- Patrick Barron/Daily
By Minh Doan, Daily Sports Writer
Published February 25, 2014
As the Michigan men’s lacrosse team practices offensive and defensive strategies at the Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, four players stand on the side doing hand-speed drills.
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Those four play one of the most important positions in lacrosse: the faceoff man.
“I spend about 10 to 30 minutes a day with the faceoff men as part of the practice plan,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “We also have some time with the wings and transition drills — otherwise, they are out doing drills on their own.”
The faceoff man starts every possession for the Wolverines and how well they do correlates to how much success Michigan has. The more faceoffs they win, the more posessions the Wolverines get in the offensive zone.
Being a faceoff man requires quick hand speed to swipe the ball away from the opponent, so Paul has those players do drills focused on that skill.
“In practice, we do a lot of work to strengthen their power and forearms,” Paul said. “We do a lot of martial arts. They also do ladder work with their hands.”
One of the Michigan faceoff men is sophomore Brad Lott, who on Tuesday morning was awarded the Eastern College Athletic League Specialist of the Week for his prowess on the faceoff X.
Lott went 68 percent last week in the Wolverines’ games against Mercer and Johns Hopkins, his first two games back after being held out due to team-specific reasons. Lott outplayed arguably one of the best faceoff men in the country in Blue Jay Drew Kennedy.
“For me personally, anything over 50 percent is a win for me because going over 50 means I did better than my opponent,” Lott said. “Sixty-eight percent is really nice. I’d take that any day of the week.”
But if it wasn’t for a faceoff competition in high school, Lott may have never become the player that he is today.
Lott attended Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky., where lacrosse isn’t as prevalent as elsewhere. HE tried every position, but never thought he would end up as a faceoff man.
“Kentucky isn’t exactly a hotbed for lacrosse,” Lott said. “I played midfield and just so happened to start facing off — I didn’t think of myself as a dominant faceoff man early on.”
In his junior year of high school, Lott tried out for the Under Armour All-American team. After all the drills were done, there was a faceoff competition. Since it was so late in the day, Lott originally didn’t want to compete in it as he didn’t want to hold up his teammates from leaving, but they persuaded him to compete.
Lott ended up winning the competition and made the Under Armour team. From that point on he was a faceoff specialist.
He then earned All-State honors as a faceoff man, as well as midfielder, which earned him the No. 1 faceoff specialist ranking in his recruiting class.
But the transition from high school to college didn’t go as smoothly as Lott had hoped. He struggled with the change, and his performance on the field, as well as in the classroom, faltered as a result.
Because of academic issues and an injury, Lott was held out of the fall practice season. He was thrown into the fire in the first game of his career against Johns Hopkins last season and showed spurts of being the top-ranked recruit that had inspired Paul to bring him to Michigan.
“Last year, being out all fall really hurt me,” Lott said. “I didn’t get to experience what the other freshmen got to experience, and being thrown into Hopkins for the first time, not really knowing anything, I felt I wasn’t necessarily in the right mindset and prepared as I should have been.”
This season, Lott has dedicated himself to his game, and the results have shown. Lott has improved not only on the field, but in the classroom as well.
“Brad has really dedicated himself to being great in everything he’s doing,” Paul said. “He turned it around in the classroom. He’s a great student now, he’s taking better care of himself, and he’s dedicated to being a better faceoff guy. This start shows the hard work he’s put in, not only on the field, but in his whole life.”
A season ago, Lott was in a much different position than he is now. He knows there’s still a lot of work ahead of him, but winning the ECAC Specialist of the Week honor in his first two games back is a great start.