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Archive for April 21, 2018

April 21, 2018 — A change in recruitment, but is it the right one?

This week, the NCAA Division I Council voted to change a very important date in the recruitment calendar of high-school athletes.

The day is Sept. 1 of a potential student-athlete’s junior year of high school. That’s the first day that a player may make an official visit to a university campus, and the first day of permissible contact between a coaching staff and a recruit.

The vote, made during meetings of the Council last Tuesday and Wednesday, was spun by the NCAA as some sort of major initiative:

[M]ost prospective student-athletes will follow a recruiting model that resembles the schedule other students follow when choosing where to go to college … The new recruiting model allows potential student-athletes more time to make thoughtful decisions about their next steps after high school.

The rules were written for every NCAA sport except for football and men’s and women’s basketball. A few sports, like softball, see the rules as necessary given the number of 8th-10th grade commitments that have become the norm, especially amongst mid-major softball programs.

It must, however, be pointed out that there have been more than enough sophomore, freshman, and even middle-school commitments which have hit the news in both field hockey and girls’ lacrosse the last three years.

Indeed, when Syracuse announced that it had landed Caitlyn Wurzburger, an attacker now playing for Florida powerhouse Delray American Heritage (Fla.), a vote one year ago this week amongst NCAA lacrosse coaches put a ban on certain kinds of contact before Sept. 1 of a recruit’s junior season.

Sound familiar?

That’s pretty much the same legislation that was passed by the NCAA Council this week to cover most of the rest of Division I scholarship programs, albeit the Division I softball coaches have put down more severe strictures in a separate vote.

Now, it’s dubious what the long-term impact is going to be. In field hockey, a number of players have already escaped before the barn door closed. Carly Hynd, a freshman from Tredyffrin Conestoga (Pa.), committed a few weeks ago to the University of Maryland. And rising senior Sammy Popper, who contributed to the United States senior women’s indoor national team a few months ago, had committed to Princeton during her freshman year at Fort Washington Germantown Academy (Pa.).

I do not know how many more freshmen or sophomores will be precluded from making verbal commitments or early decisions. I guess it’s the hope that the NCAA Council’s vote will give parents more time to make a good decision about their child’s future, or whether the Council will adopt softball’s stronger rules governing phone contact between coaches and recruits.

But given the national-team, professional, or Olympic dreams of some of these players and the single-mindedness of some to do whatever it takes to pick the right college, there will still be a handful of very elite players who will take an early plunge, sometimes just to get the decision over with.

April 21, 2018 — Fulcrum Week, Part 1: Duke vs. UNC

Game time: 3 p.m. today

Location: Fetzer Field, UNC

The records: Duke 7-7, 22nd ranked in polls, UNC 11-3, 5th ranked in polls

Key players: UNC: Marie McCool (sr., c), Ela Hazar (sr., f), Naomi Lerner (sr., d). Duke: Olivia Jenner (so., c), Callie Humphrey (jr., d), Charlotte North (fr., f)

Key matchup: McCool vs. Jenner on the center draw. Note who wins the initial touch on the draw but who may lose it on a stick check and never get a chance to get it into the attack zone

The skinny: This game could very well be Duke’s season. Here’s why: if the Blue Devils lose this game, it will be 7-8 on the season heading into the quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament. If Duke loses that quarterfinal as well, it will be 7-9 and that last pickup game against East Carolina will not be able to save them from being ineligible for the Division I tournament

Note: Go to Instagram (@totc) after the game is over for my Unfiltered perspective on the contest.