Q&A with Syracuse legend Casey Powell
PHILADELPHIA — Casey Powell is one of the greatest players in lacrosse — specifically Syracuse lacrosse — history. The former No. 22 is part of one of lacrosse’s most storied families: His brothers Michael and Ryan each starred for SU and donned the famous No. 22. Powell was a three-time first-team All-American for the Orangemen, a two-time most outstanding player, and is Syracuse’s second all-time leading scorer. Now, the legend of the sport is hosting a show on Sirius XM Radio leading up to the final four. The Daily Orange had a chance to talk with Powell at final four media day on Thursday.
The Daily Orange: You know about as much lacrosse as anybody, so what should the more casual fan know about Denver?
Powell: Well, they’re a very dynamic team. They have a lot of Canadian players. Canadian players are very tough to defend. They play a pick-and-roll game that, as Americans, you don’t see a lot growing up, so it’s new and it’s a different way of attacking the defense. They’re obviously well coached, a long-time rivalry for Syracuse-Princeton and now Coach (Bill) Tierney has brought that program up to relevance, so this should be a great matchup that way. But they get the ball up and down the field and they play well all over, so this should be a fantastic season.
Syracuse, at the beginning of the season, didn’t look as strong, but they’ve learned how to win, they’ve had a lot of close, one-goal games and this could be a heavyweight fight.
The D.O.: Syracuse’s defense has held opponents to single-digit goals in six straight games now. How do they match up with that Denver offense?
C.P.: Well, their defense is playing good at the right time, so it’s going to be important. It’s going to be important that they keep this going the same way. Obviously, historically Syracuse is a run-and-gun team, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case this game. I think they’re going to have to control the ball, obviously it’ll be important at the faceoff circle to do a better job there and control the ball on offense, play less defense and see Denver’s offense as little as possible.
The D.O.: People say this might be John Desko’s best coaching job, taking the No. 12 team, running a different style than people are used to — do you think this is as good a job as he’s done?
C.P.: I really do. It’s unbelievable what he’s done with this team. As I said, at the beginning, being a former Syracuse player, we weren’t too optimistic about this year’s team’s performance after watching them play early, but they’ve really come together. They’ve shown how hungry they are and Coach Desko and his staff has done a great job putting all the pieces together. Their offense is playing great, the defense is playing great, they’ve figured out the goalie situation and they’re kicking on all cylinders, so I commend Coach Desko and his staff for the job they’ve done this year.
The D.O.: It’s a No. 1 seed, a No. 4 seed, a No. 7 seed and an unseeded team. Can you remember a final four this wide-open?
C.P.: You know, when we saw the bracket, the top 16, we knew it was going to be good. Bryant and Detroit maybe on the outside, maybe Towson, too, but there was at least 10 teams that would win it all. I knew this would be great and last weekend was unbelievable matchups and it just keeps getting better.
The D.O.: JoJo Marasco is the only No. 22 to not have a national championship, but he’s a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist. What has he done to elevate his game this season after maybe disappointing in his early years?
C.P.: Well, I wouldn’t say disappointment. Disappointment in his mind, in his eyes. He strives for the best, and that’s what I like about him. He continues to work hard. His goal is to win a national championship and here he is, in position A, ready to do so. But he’s been an outstanding leader, he’s represented not only the No. 22, but Syracuse University to the fullest, we’re very proud of him. I’m glad he’s worn No. 22 and his name will be next to Gary Gait’s and mine and my brother’s in Syracuse lacrosse history.
The D.O.: Any predictions for this weekend?
C.P.: I do, I’ve got a prediction. I’ve got Syracuse-Cornell in the Battle of Upstate. And I’ve got RIT winning, and I’ve got Le Moyne winning. And then Onondaga winning.
The D.O.: Upstate sweep?
C.P.: Upstate sweep. Then hopefully they’ll shut the town down.
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