Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments VILLANOVA, Pa. – During the week of practices leading up to Syracuse’s game against Villanova, SU players were constantly reminded about the importance of gaining one more possession than the opposing team.The pressure of needing a win to keep its season alive amplified the importance of the possession battle for the Orange.And that sense of urgency may have been just what Syracuse needed.‘We’ve been reminded all week and all year that we’ve been losing the ground ball battle and that’s not something that Syracuse lacrosse likes to do,’ SU midfielder Bobby Eilers said. ‘We’ve been taking that to heart, Coach (John Desko) has been getting on us, the players have been getting on each other and that’s something we want to win.’The third-seeded Orange (8-7) used a gritty defensive performance to gather loose balls and wipe out the No. 2 seed Wildcats 15-6 in the Big East semifinals at Villanova Stadium on Thursday. The Syracuse defense continuously harassed the Villanova (8-7) attack, knocking the ball free and pressuring it into ill-advised shots and, consequently, the SU attack hit its stride.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange held a 41-22 advantage in corralling ground balls spurred by an improvement at the faceoff X. Ricky Buhr took 20 of the team’s 25 faceoffs, winning over 50 percent of his draws.‘That’s a huge stat for us,’ Desko said of his team’s efficiency grabbing ground balls.’It just shows that we played with a sense of urgency today, we played a lot smarter and got half the turnovers we’ve had over the last few games.’The possession battle ultimately boiled down to an all-around smothering performance by Syracuse’s defense. Junior defender Brian Megill kept All-Big East Attack of the Year Kevin Cunningham in check, holding him to one goal on five shots. The Orange forced the Wildcats into careless mistakes by pressing out on the shooters and limiting the space they had to operate.It was a dramatic turn of events from the first time the two teams played. Cunningham, attacks Jack Rice and Will Casertano had their way with SU’s defense on March 25. Cunningham consistently found one of his teammates slicing to the net for easy looks. Syracuse lost the faceoff battle and the Villanova attack took advantage, winning 11-10.This time, all of that fell in Syracuse’s favor.The Orange knocked the ball free, forced bad shots and took the ball the other way.And as the pressure got under the skin of the Villanova attack, the Syracuse offense benefitted. The Orange held a 30-20 edge in shots through three quarters as a result of its constant pressure and focus on loose balls.‘I thought they did a great job possessing the ball,’ Rice said. ‘They were pressing us out a little more than they were doing last time and I think that that sort of screwed us up.Syracuse goaltender Bobby Wardwell said that the team’s renewed focus at practice sparked the success on the defensive end of the field.Wardwell did his part, as well. The freshman goaltender made his first save of the game when Michael Vigilante fired a shot from his hip that Wardwell knocked down and covered up. It set the stage for the rest of the game. Wardwell made 12 saves on 18 shots including all five stops in fourth quarter to keep the momentum on SU’s side.‘We worked hard in practice all week, really worked with the picks and everything and that’s one thing we focused on,’ Wardwell said.’I think we knew our matchups a little better this time and the defense as a whole communicated really well tonight.’And the newfound success in earning possession that had been absent for nearly all season carried Syracuse forward. The defense stood tall and with additional chances in the attacking zone, SU put the ball in the back of the net.The special attention to ground balls paid off.Said Desko: ‘We had equal opportunities to score goals and it hadn’t been that way all year.’[email protected] Published on May 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm
Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers The increasing number of positive tests is an added challenge for the NBA, which is still weighing a potential return to basketball this summer. The CDC suggested over the weekend that gatherings of 50 or more people should be discouraged for eight weeks to slow the spread of the virus – even without fans, televised NBA games would require a minimum of several hundred people to be in an arena. ESPN reported the NBA’s board of governors was meeting on Tuesday to discuss the NBA’s future this season.Several teams that played the Jazz last week went into self-quarantine. Only one player on the Detroit Pistons tested positive among them. The Nets and the Jazz have not played since January, well past the virus incubation period.“The health and well-being of our players, staff, fans, and society in general, is of paramount importance to us, and will continue to be our focus,” the team said in a statement. While many factors can spread the coronavirus, and New York state reported more than 1,300 cases as of Tuesday afternoon, the recommended quarantine period commonly cited is two weeks, putting the Lakers squarely in that window. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersESPN reported that the Nets paid a private company to test their players upon returning from San Francisco, where they traveled before their game against Golden State was canceled. The test results were returned on Tuesday.The Lakers have been following suggested practices since last Thursday: They’ve been asked to remain at home as much as possible and check in with team medical personnel. Group workouts and practices have been replaced by one-on-one sessions with assistants rather than teammates. Lakers players were also given COVID-19 test kits, but not required to use them immediately.In a statement, the Lakers said they were “following the next steps of our COVID-19 procedures and protocol that are established in consultation with various health officials, the NBA and our UCLA Health doctors.” ESPN reported that in light of the reports, the Lakers planned to test players on Wednesday and would urge them to follow a two-week quarantine.The NBA so far has made one notable concession for quarantine, allowing players to travel out of their team markets to visit family.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Four Brooklyn Nets players have tested positive for the coronavirus, the team announced Tuesday – a worrisome development for the NBA and the Lakers, their last opponent.The Nets issued a statement saying that only one player has shown symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, while the three others with positive tests have not. The Athletic reported that one of the players who is asymptomatic is Kevin Durant, the 10-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP and the most high-profile athlete to test positive. The team has asked all members of the traveling party to remain in isolation while checking with team medical staff daily, and they’ve also reached out to recent opponents.Those opponents include the Lakers, who played their last game at a sold-out Staples Center on March 10 against Brooklyn. It was the first game that the league had implemented social distancing measures, closing team locker rooms to non-essential personnel.The day after, the NBA suspended its season following the first positive test by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. The Nets’ report now means that seven NBA players across three different teams have tested positive for coronavirus.