You probably think Michigan men’s lacrosse coach John Paul has it easy. Three consecutive MCLA championships, a current 7-0 record and a No. 1 national ranking? What’s the problem?

Think again.

While the box scores and stat sheets are prime examples of the Wolverines’ success, they are truly products of Paul’s dedication and discipline. Leading a squad that has won 65 of its last 66 games over the past four campaigns, many coaches might develop a sense of complacency, a feeling of entitlement.

Not Paul.

This year, unsurprisingly, he has managed to keep his group focused regardless of the margin of victory.

After performing, in Paul’s opinion “better than expected” on Friday night in a 16-6 win over No. 3 Brigham Young, Michigan evaded any traps by posting a 20-1 thrashing of Pittsburgh on Saturday.

“We wanted to avoid a let-down, and make sure that we brought the kind of intensity to keep the team moving upwards,” Paul said. “And we did that tonight.”

But the man who his players commonly refer to as “JP” isn’t all business. As demanding as he is on the sidelines, he understands his team’s needs. He gave them an extra day’s rest after the back-to-back contests.

Paul knows that allowing his players to relax and to get ahead on their schoolwork will make for a much more productive week of practice. And beginning a brutal stretch of the season that includes four straight games against top-25 opponents, a productive week of practice is key.

“We just want to get better every week,” Paul added. “Our whole focus is to be the best we can be in May.”

Players often have difficulty visualizing how the daily sacrifices they make will translate to the final result. Paul’s ability to put the winning in perspective may well be the most important contribution to the program’s accomplishments.

Capping off 2010 with a national championship taught the Wolverines that winning in the postseason will largely overshadow whatever occurs during the regular season, even if it’s as devastating as their loss to Colorado last year, which snapped a 49-game win streak.

Still, you can bet Paul is working as hard as he can to avoid the same type of wake-up call.

“JP” really doesn’t have it easy — he just makes it seem that way.

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