“[We want to] get a better appreciation for guys playing in space and guys playing in tight quarters as you see the influence of, call it box, call it Canadians, guys who bring a different skill set. We’re trying to incorporate that into our practices and preparation, both to become better at it ourselves and become better defending it.”
From a scheduled intrasquad indoor scrimmage in Denver later this week, to weekly pick-up box games starting on campus next week, to a visit from the coaching staff of the National Lacrosse League’s Minnesota Swarm, you could say the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are going clearly Canadian this fall.
While some prognosticators may be more interested in gauging how Notre Dame will fare in its first year in an even-stronger ACC conference — with Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia — it is more important for the Irish coaching staff to follow the on-field trends that can dictate wins and losses. And that, over the last decade or so in particular, has included the heavy influence of the indoor, or box, game on the field product in the United States.
While Canadians going back to Stan Cockerton, the Gaits and Tom Marechek, for example, have impacted NCAA lacrosse before, the influence of indoor-trained players is now shown in depth and numbers. As noted by Paul Tutka of the US Box Lacrosse Association in this insightful piece, since 2008 no fewer than 24 percent of the top 50 goal-scorers (single season) in NCAA Division I have been Canadians, a big jump from single-digit percentages in the 2000s. Last year, 60 percent of the nation’s top 15 scorers were Canadian or Iroquois.
Picks or screens have become hallmarks of college offenses, as they long have been in the tighter quarters of box games. This spring, in addition to the ACC slate, Notre Dame will play two teams in the non-conference — Denver and Ohio State — that count multiple Canadians among their top contributors.
“What things do we see that we’re going to have to defend, as far as trends in other teams that we’re playing?” Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said on the topic in an interview last week.