MLAX : Syracuse boosting offensive repertoire with improved man-up scheme

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first_imgFor about 30 minutes at the end of every practice, the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team goes live in a simulated six-on-five game. It’s part of a constant effort to improve an area of the game that SU has struggled to master: the man-up.For much of the season, the Orange offense has faltered situations where it has a man advantage.‘We haven’t been happy with our percentages this year, and I think there’s another aspect of the game we could get better at,’ SU head coach John Desko said. ‘And we, fortunately going down the stretch, have gotten a little better at.’Desko designs that last part of practice — where Syracuse works on man-up plays — to prepare for each game. SU is always trying to stay one step ahead of opponents’ man-down defenses, and in recent weeks that has meant installing new offensive plays. The hope is that the opposing defense will have to adjust on the fly. And in that adjustment period the Orange can capitalize.Desko recognizes the importance of the man-up opportunities, resulting in his offensive players paying extra attention to the final half hour of practice. His newly crafted plays may involve changing the players that are a part of the offense to take advantage of their skills and open up scoring opportunities.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘When we come out and do something entirely different then we’ve been doing all year, that makes the defense a little uneasy,’ Desko said.Syracuse is only 16-59 (.271) in man-up situations through the regular season and the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Orange ranks 45th out of 60 teams in Division-I lacrosse in extra-man opportunities. It’s an unusually low mark for the No. 1 team in the country to have. And it serves as a source of frustration for the Syracuse offense.Still, SU has gotten better in man-up situations as the season has progressed. Out of its 16 games this year, it scored more than once on extra-man situations just four times, but two of those contests have come in the past two games. The Orange went 2-of-5 and 2-of-6 against St. John’s and Siena, respectively.Though the team’s man-up offense is improving, it still hopes to become more potent in time for Sunday’s game against Maryland.‘We have some good man-up plays too, but it’s just, we haven’t hit all cylinders there,’ SU attack JoJo Marasco said. ‘We have to keep shooting. Man-up’s pretty important in the game. We’ve been working pretty hard on it. Hopefully, we can do better next week.’The Orange’s man-up offense has also been hit by injuries, as attack Tim Desko went down with a knee injury that has kept him out of SU’s last seven games. Tim Desko had the ability to pick up those plays easily, and he was one of the most accurate finishers Syracuse had in the early part of the season. But with him out of the lineup, the Orange has had to adjust and continues to do so this late in the season.That’s why John Desko’s new plays from game to game are so important. The head coach said changing plays before each game is nothing new, but he has mixed it up even more this season.‘We’re really working hard on it,’ Syracuse midfielder Pete Coleman said. ‘We have so many offensive threats on our man up. We put in so many different plays.‘Against Maryland, we’ll add some new plays that I think are awesome and will help us a lot. No one’s panicking or anything.’The new looks aren’t just an effort to end the team’s struggles but also to give opponents’ man-down defenses trouble. So that last part of practice could end up being the difference between a win and a loss if Maryland commits penalties and gives SU a chance to show its new offensive wrinkles.Said Marasco: ‘We’ve got a couple more for Maryland, and we’ll be ready for them, and hopefully, we’ll be able to draw some penalties and use them.’ Published on May 18, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ [email protected]  Staff writer Zach Brown contributed reporting to this articlelast_img

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