Thursday, May 25, 2017

How Is Zach Currier Not First-Team All-America?

The first time TigerBlog wrote this, he buried the lead.

He's going to take a second shot at it. This time, he's made a slight change and started with the lead, which is simply this: How in the world is Zach Currier not a first-team All-America?

There. That's better.

The USILA men's lacrosse All-America teams were announced yesterday, and Currier was a second-team selection. This comes after Currier put up a season that, in TigerBlog's opinion, is unmatchable by a midfielder.

In case you forgot, Currier had 24 goals, 34 assists and 58 points. There were four first-team All-America middies, and none of them - and no other Division I midfielder, for that matter - had more points than Currier.

For a little context by the way, Tom Schreiber, with whom Currier played in 2014 when Schreiber was a senior, is one of the two best passing middies TigerBlog has ever seen (Duke's Myles Jones, now in the MLL, is the other). Even Schreiber never had more than 32 assists in a season at Princeton, or two fewer than Currier had this year.

And Currier isn't even known as a scoring midfielder.

Add to his scoring totals these other stats. He led Princeton in caused turnovers (as a shortstick offensive midfielder; has anyone else ever done that?) and won 56.4 percent of his 202 face-offs. Has anyone who ever had a 58-point season done that?

Lastly, he picked up 130 ground balls. That's a ton. The four first-team All-America middies combined have 36 ground balls. That's not each. That's total between them.

As TB also said, Currier is a player whose numbers don't define him who nevertheless has numbers that are stunning. What really makes Currier special, though, is his ability to impact every aspect of a game, from start to finish, making himself a total pain in the butt for the opponent, without ever leaving the field. 

TigerBlog wrote a few weeks ago that he thought that Currier was the best player in Division I lacrosse this year, and he stands by that. This was before the five Tewaaraton Trophy finalists were announced, when Currier was one of the 25 nominees. TigerBlog didn't expect Currier to be among the five, understanding that not reaching the NCAA tournament was going to hurt his chances.

Still, when it came to All-America, there are two players who should have been complete no-brainers: Currier, and Denver face-off specialist Trevor Baptiste. Everyone else was subject to debate. Not those two.

There will always be snubs for All-America teams. You know, players who had exceptional seasons but didn't get the recognition.

When TB first looked at the list yesterday, he was hoping to see a few names that weren't there and probably should have been. Greg Wozniak, a former high school teammate of TigerBlog Jr. and an All-Patriot League defenseman from Boston University. It would have been nice to see his name.

Then there was Ryan O'Donoghue, a defenseman from Sacred Heart who was the Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year. TigerBlog hasn't seen too many poles who can take the ball away while still staying in position quite like O'Donoghue, who was second in Division I in caused turnovers. It would have been nice to see him too, but he wasn't there.

What happened with Currier is different. So different that TigerBlog has no idea how it possibly happened.

Then again, he also doesn't understand the whole Gavin McBride thing.

Princeton had two All-Americas.

Michael Sowers was a third-team selection on attack. The freshman set a Princeton record with 82 points this season, and he ranks second in Division I in points per game, behind only Connor Fields of Albany, a first-team selection.

Would TigerBlog like to have seen Sowers higher? Yes. Does he understand why Sowers was only third-team. Yes.

Then there's McBride, who is second in Division I in goals scored behind Fields (55-54) and first in Division I in goals per game. McBride's 54 goals also set the Princeton record for goals in a season.

His reward was nothing. Not first-team. Or second. Or third. Or honorable mention. In all, there were 32 attackmen honored, and McBride wasn't one of them.

In many ways, that's harder to believe than the fact that Currier wasn't first team.

Honestly, TigerBlog would love to hear the behind-the-scenes of how this happened, so he could understand it. 

The whole situation led TigerBlog to ask himself a question: Is it his place to be critical of the selections, or merely to report them?

He works in college athletic communications. Is it okay for him to critique things? 

When he first started doing this, it would never have dawned on him that his role would be to do anything other than simply put out facts. When he used to do media notes way back before there was a webpage, he wouldn't even use any kind of modifiers to describe accomplishments. There would be no "Smith has only thrown two interceptions in 150 passes."

Nope. Just facts. Let the media decide what to do with them.

Looking back on that, it seems like a fairly quaint notion. And a time long gone.

TigerBlog asks his Office of Athletic Communications colleagues all the time what they would do if they were starting from scratch. What is it that people are looking for when they want to see something about Princeton Athletics?

It's a balancing act.

In 2017, a large segment of the people who are looking for information are looking for what can be described as "commentary." It doesn't have to be ugly commentary. It doesn't have to be edgy. But it doesn't have to be plain facts either.

On the other hand, the OAC is an arm of the Department of Athletics and the University and as such has a responsibility for professionalism and proper conduct, especially in content that is so public.

TB thinks the OAC has done a good job of getting away from just who, what, when and where without getting unprofessionally into why. He wouldn't tolerate stories or social media posts that are, for examples, critical of the officials or the other team's coaches or anything like.

There's a line out there that can't be crossed. It used to be the line was right on the barrier between facts and opinions, but hey, TigerBlog has nearly a decade of sharing his opinions with you every day right here.

So again, his question is this: Can he be critical of the All-America selections, or does he need to simply report them?

Anyway, there were 16 first-team All-Americas and 15 of them played in the NCAA tournament. That's a big deal. Princeton nearly doubled its win total, going from five wins to nine wins, and the Tigers had a 50 percent increase in scoring, going from 10 goals a game to just a shade under 15.

But the Tigers did not play in the NCAA tournament. That is true.

Is that why Currier wasn't first-team? If so, then it's ridiculous.

Is it TigerBlog's place to be critical? He's not sure.

Maybe he should just leave you with what he tweeted yesterday:
"Been around Princeton lax for 28 years, six NCAA/17 Ivy titles and 31 1st-team AA. Never saw anyone have a better year than Currier in '17."

Yeah. He'll just leave it with that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, commentary when labeled as such provides useful perspective of facts.

Currier being denied 1st Team AA is a travesty for USILA...and that's a fact. Especially when you see all the numbers behind his year relative to the others.