Kyle Devitte’s Firing Squad: Training Camp Report

Heh, that’s funny.  The report part.

If you’ve never entered Kyle’s firing squad you should know that my mantra is “I’m not a reporter; I’m a writer.” You can tell by the semi-colon I just used.  Writerly.

Indeed, I did attend last week’s Saturday training camp session.  I saw some familiar faces, some not so familiar faces and some hostile faces.  One time I saw all three at once.

I used to consider chatting up the vets a priviledge, but now I’m all jaded and see it as a right.  Cannons players, just for future reference, if you don’t talk to me you pay for it in the column.  I don’t mind what you have to say even if it’s to tell me that your pet donkey writes better than I do, but you have to speak or you get red ink on your paper.

Oh, and while I have you guys here, just remember that I hear everything you say on the field because I’m standing right there.  The dashing tiny human that isn’t Hazen is me.  So if you say something and I’m not supposed to hear it just go “don’t print that”.  Or I will.

I have final cut, right?  That’s in my contract?  Great.

So now that the pleasantries are concluded we can get down to brass tax.  I was going to write  whole expose on which rookies are going to make the team and which ones won’t but Cannons wunderkind Matt Poskay told me that would be mean.  So, in order to please Mr. Poskay, I have decided to just give you a glimpse into the hour and change that I spent observing the Cannons hopefuls and the established team.

Except that the new roster is out already and no one told me.  That’s cool.  I see how it is.

We’ll get to the roster later.  Being on the field for one of the last practices before final cuts was definitely more intense than I expected.  The camp was clearly split into two types of players: players that knew they were on the roster already and players that were trying to make the team.

That’s not to say it was easy to tell the difference.

I have the luxury of knowing which players have been on the Cannons roster before of course, but I also knew who had been on other MLL rosters in the past.  Just because you’ve been on another team’s roster doesn’t mean you automatically make another MLL team.  The league is littered with guys that have bounced around various teams, but each one of those guys has a skillset that fills a particular team’s needs.

The Cannons didn’t have specialty players on display last Saturday.  Every new player (besides goalies and face-off men)  was well-rounded and had more than a few opportunities to get involved with the offense and the defense.  While it was fun to watch Kip Turner and Matt poskay slap hands in a cone drill every time they passed one another, the real action took place in a modified fast break drill that took up most of the practice time.

Three attackmen and three defensemen set up on each side of the field, a goalie in each net.  The midfielders formed two lines in the substitution box and adjacent midline, and interchanged between playing defense and offense on the break.  A ball was thrown out and each line fought for possession.  Now this may seem like just another fast break drill, but think about being in that line for a second.  You’re trying to make a professional lacrosse roster, maybe for the first time.  You have no idea who the guy is next to you.  You have to get that ground ball.  Crap, you pooched the pick-up.  Now you have to play defense.  You get smoked.  You jog to the other line.  What do you do now?  Were all of the coaches watching that?  How did I miss the ball?  Why did he go to his off hand?

Welcome to MLL training camp, son.  You’re lucky Rabil wasn’t here.

Good thing you’re a FOGO.

Second person narration aside, I saw that inner monologue occur roughly 47 times in an hour.  I made my notes.  I Picked out my favourites.  I was getting ready to leave when good old Poskay stepped out of the drill (he was playing attack…for some reason) and I asked him:

“So, is it mean if I do an entire article on who I think is going to make the roster and who is going to get cut?”

(Three nervous looking midfielders waiting to get in took a step back from me as I said this).

“Yes.  It is.  Don’t do that.” Poskay replied, his cherubic face suddenly stern.

“Ok.  Why did you step out of the drill?” I asked, still wondering how his face had contorted into a serious square-like shape.

“These guys are trying to make the team.  They deserve a run.  I just catch and shoot.” Poskay offered, without a hint of arrogance.  (I may or may not have imagined the last sentence in that quote, though.)

The words of a true leader and captain.

He's too cool for a polo, apparently.

Now let’s get to that pesky roster shall we?

Any surprises?  Not really.  The Cannons did (and still do) need to replace Sean Morris and Matt Alrich, two of their top scorers from last year – who aren’t playing because of something I’m not allowed to talk/know about.  Apparently it’s not fight club, but it could be.  You never know.

Boston also needs to replace Johnny Christmas and Ray Ray “hay hay hay” Megill, two of the best players coming off of the bench in the league.

The guys that were brought in to stop those gaps are definitely capable from a talent standpoint.

Kevin Buchanon is a hybrid dodger/shooter who was one of the Washington/Chesapeake/no-one-cares-if-you-change-your-name’s best player’s last season.  The Bayhawks were at their best when Buchanon and Kevin Huntley were operating behind the cage and switching off of picks to get better match ups for each other and their teammates.  Buchanon’s point total of 13 (6 goals, 7 assists) may seem paltry compared to Huntley’s 31 (23g’s, 2 two-pointers, 6a’s) but Buchanon was a catalyst for a lot of Huntley’s chances.  Defensemen do not like covering small quick guys.  I should know, I used to be one.

Pat Heim is half man, half bull.  He may not be the fastest player on the field, but the first pick in the 2007 draft is nigh impossible to stop once he gains momentum.  He’s sort of like the Juggernaut.  Without the giant brown helmet.  Heim did not play in the league last year, but looked to be in great shape on the practice field.  If he’s not on the same line as Paul Rabil I’ll be shocked.  Possibly awed.

What team is THAT?

Brad Ross Oh, Brad hopefully we can put the ugly business of me saying that you looked like a puppet from Team America behind us.  Bradley Ross was relegated to Defensive midfield (two goals in three games) in his time with the National’s last season, but that’s because he’s American and the Nationals hate America.  Ross actually has a serious howitzer of a shot to go with his mega-quicks and when paired with Glenn Adams might be the speediest combination of players the league has ever seen.

AMEEEERIIIICA!!! FUDGE - YEAH! Yeah, you see it now.

Glenn Adams As I said before, Glenn “Tiny Baby” Adams is quick.  He made two guys fall down in one play last year and I think he’s going to go for the hat trick this season.  Adams has Allen Iverson (Iverson in his prime.  Not now.  Now Iverson can’t even eat a sandwich quickly) crossover skills.  He may have one move, but that move is straight filth.  If Adams can manage to get his shot up to snuff (his shooting percentage was 17% last year), he will be a very dangerous player.

As for the returners, there is a solid nucleus of offensive talent (Ryan Boyle, Paul Rabil, Matt Poskay) that will blend nicely with a full compliment of character guys on defense (Jack Reid, Chris Passavia, Matt Casey).  Tha Cannons lost way too many games by one goal last season and while they have lost some of their punch on the offensive end, their defense – especially their transition defense – looks to be well improved.

Wait, they really made Poskay captain?  I was kidding.  Oh dear lord.

See you on Saturday, folks.

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