Men's Lacrosse

Syracuse looks for improved faceoff performance in 2014

In his entire 25-minute press conference at Syracuse lacrosse media day on Monday, John Desko threw out just one number.


That was his team’s winning percentage on faceoffs a season ago, and he almost acted like he didn’t know it off the cuff.

“Obviously the faceoffs we need to — what were we, 42 percent there last year, or whatever it was? We need to get better there,” Desko said.

But in all likelihood, it’s a number that’s been running through Desko’s head since his team’s struggles at the X helped Duke peel the national championship trophy out of SU’s hands last May. Now, addressing faceoffs is at the top of Desko’s agenda heading into the season.

“We’ve worked as hard on faceoffs as we ever have,” Desko said. “We may have worked more than we have in the last three years put together as far as looking at technique, film, repetitions and working on things.”

Desko said that while he wishes the position was closed, it’s not. Chris Daddio and Cal Paduda are the guys “at this point.”

Daddio, a senior midfielder, appeared in 19 games last season and led Syracuse with 115 faceoff wins and 254 attempts. Paduda, a sophomore midfielder, appeared in 13 games and was second on the team with 47 wins and 111 attempts. Desko also mentioned sophomore midfielder Austin Wentworth as a player who could be in the fold.

“Those guys have been working so hard on faceoffs,” senior captain Derek Maltz said. “I’m really confident with the way they are working that they can get a lot better there.”

But Desko still thinks that the current rules give faceoffs too much importance. In the national championship, Duke’s faceoff specialist Brandon Fowler kept the Blue Devils offense on the field and Desko said the Orange was “handcuffed.”

But then he added, through laughter, that he isn’t the one to bring that up in the coaches convention meetings.

“Rarely do you see a guy out there who stays in and plays offense. Rarely do you see a guy who stays out there and plays defense,” Desko said. “But now you have a guy who doesn’t play offense or doesn’t play defense but might have the most effect on the outcome of a game.”

As Syracuse moves into the Atlantic Coast Conference, problems at the X loom larger than ever.

The Orange is No. 2 in Lacrosse Magazine’s Preseason Top 20. Duke is No. 1, North Carolina No. 3, Notre Dame No. 5, Maryland No. 7 and Virginia No. 9. Five ACC teams, not including SU, in the top 10. The Orange’s schedule is ranked the hardest in the country.

While Desko used Monday’s press conference to highlight a lot of positives heading into the season, he continually went back to faceoffs as the team’s glaring weakness.

Said Desko: “We want to figure out who our people are there as quickly as we can.”


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