Learning from Duke

Memorial Day Weekend has arrived, and while for many that means sitting on the Bay Bridge for three days, another large portion of Marylanders heads north to Philadelphia for the Men’s Lacrosse Final Four. The 2nd seeded Terps face unseeded UMass Saturday, the winner to face either top seed Virginia or number four Syracuse on Monday for the National Championship.

This marks the 3rd time in four years that Maryland has reached the Final Four. They desperately hope for better results. Each of the last two times on the big stage, they’ve played very small. A 14-4 loss to Virginia in 2003, then an 18-9 drubbing at the hands of Duke in 2005.

Speaking of Duke, what a difference a year makes. The Blue Devils were one goal shy of a National Championship last season. 12 months later they sit at home, their season canceled, their coach resigned, and three of their players indicted on charges of rape.

Rehashing what may or may not have happened in Durham won’t happen here. Even the most informed on this story don’t know for sure, so we won’t go there.

What the lacrosse community, for that matter the entire organized sports community, needs to do now though is to find something positive from the situation and move forward. Recognize that whether anything criminal took place or not, a stripper party for the team can’t possibly lead to anything good. And players from the team should have put a stop to it themselves. Leadership needs to take over in this situation.

Maryland head coach Dave Cottle was emphatic on that point in a conversation Thursday. He told me that the seminars he conducts on drinking, drugs, and sexual harassment for his team, while still important, are not enough.

“They’re kids. And as parents you teach your kids to do the right things. As coaches you teach your kids to do the right things. Sometimes they don’t do it.”

And rather than wait for some calamitous incident in College Park, Cottle already has in mind a proactive plan. He wants to bring in active Marines for leadership seminars. He wants the players to learn to police themselves. Hey, teach a man to fish.

When Mike Pressler resigned as head coach his coaching brethren was stunned. If it could happen to a good guy like Pressler, they knew it could happen to anyone. The alarm continues to sound. Cottle hears it.

“We all understand that we’re one event away from being caught in something that you don’t have any business or want to be caught in anytime.”

Self preservation is a wonderful motivator. And we all benefit from a more informed and disciplined sports society.

e-mail Pete

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