If there's something nice about not having hard and fast deadlines these days, it's that it is pretty easy to rebrand an idea or a series when time delays things a bit.
For example, the plan was to roll out season previews for several area lacrosse teams earlier in the month. Let's just say the snow didn't help that all that much.
But there's a little time today to wedge a few previews in. In this particular case, it's more an overview.
That's because Navy played last week.
It's still early, though, and the Midshipmen (like everyone else) still have plenty to learn about themselves. So let's get to breaking things down:
When Navy's lacrosse team was last seen in 2009, it was getting drilled in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Duke.
OK, woodsheddings happen at Duke, especially the last few years.
But it was also very un-Navylike. Maybe the Midshipmen won't score a lot. But they're almost always competitive.
And so rather than an end, the 14-5 loss was a prelude.
"That can happen to anybody, but it happened to us," coach Richie Meade said. "The only way I know to pump up the intensity is to pump up the intensity in training. All the intangibles, throw better, shoot better, catch better, there's a lot to talk about. And it's all well and good unless you just work on toughness and attitude. We've checked that box."
Lots of coaches talk like that. Lots of programs like to pride themselves on that.
But this is Meade. And this is Navy. So, naturally, it led to a challenging offseason.
Meade watched Navy's football team last summer as it prepared for a season that opened at Ohio State. Day after day, he saw players putting in extra time --- "In 90, 100 degrees, running outside and doing what football players do," Meade said --- and every day they got closer to hanging with a top-10 team.
Sure enough, it happened. And when the Mids lost a tight game, they were disappointed rather than relieved.
With that in mind, Meade hopes the same is true of his team if it encounters bumps in the road against the elite of college lacrosse.
"There's nothing mystical about what we do," Meade said. "We don't say we do it better. We did it pretty hard and focused on that. We're going to make you really tired and then we're going to keep going. Bring people to where they want to quit and make them compete. Everybody tried to figure out ways to get to that basic human instinct. You can either run or you can fight. The answer's got to be you're going to fight. That becomes like a mindset."
But how to tell? Well, there isn't much time before the Mids will know for sure. The next three weeks bring games against Loyola, North Carolina and Bucknell. Navy's at-large and conference title hopes will both unfold quickly. The Mids could be one of the sport's best stories, chasing their first final four berth since 2004. Or it could quickly come down to a weekend at the end of the regular season.
For his part, Meade believes Navy is ready.
"You have to step up," Meade said. "Everyone knows Loyola's a good team, North Carolina's a good team. Everybody's a good team. We want to step into that arena."
A Tim Paul
A Brendan Connors
A Andy Warner
M1 Patrick Moran
M1 Joe Lennon
M1 Nikk Davis
M2 Basil Daratsos
M2 Brian Striffler
M2 Kevin Doyle
M3 Taylor Cook
M3 Jay Mann
M3 Cade Norris
D Michael Hirsch
D Matt Vernam
D Ian Crumley
LSM Jaren Woeppel
FO Robby Battle
G RJ Wickham
ON THE SPOT
1. Wickham ... to lock down a goalie gig that's repeatedly changed hands over the last two seasons.
2. Paul ... to stay healthy and keep an experienced attack dangerous.
3. Daratsos ... to return to his level of play as a freshman before injuries robbed him of his effectiveness for much of the last two years.
1. North Carolina (Feb. 25): A Thursday night game at home against a chic preseason final four pick. Always good to think you have a quality win before March arrives.
2. Bucknell (March 6): The winner gets in the inside track to hosting the Patriot League tournament at the end of the season.
3. at Maryland (April 10): The Mids have owned the series of late, and a victory would probably have a soothing effect heading into a tough finish (vs. Army, Hopkins, PL tournament).
NCAA TOURNAMENT CHANCES (1-10 scale)
8. Talent and opportunity intersect here. The attack is a known quantity, and Navy's defense is always good. If Navy can establish two decent midfields and Wickham can hold up over a full season, the Mids should wind up in the 7-10 neighborhood by season's end. With one or two good wins --- and there's plenty of chances to secure them --- Navy will be a credible at-large candidate in May.