Syracuse men’s lacrosse heads to Georgia for ACC tournament as sport booms in area

first_img“(Banks) started one of the more prolific club teams in the country,” SU head coach John Desko said. “And as a result, he was somewhat of a Johnny Appleseed in the Georgia area.”The ties that Syracuse has in Georgia run deeper than just about any other college program and Banks is at the forefront of the movement. He’s also the vice president of the Blaze, the team that former Orange players Kevin Rice, Henry Schoonmaker and Nicky Galasso play for.Desko said when he recruits players from nontraditional places, it usually takes a year or two to get used to playing in SU’s schemes. Starting junior midfielder Sergio Salcido, from Florida, is an example the head coach points to. But freshman attack Nate Solomon, from Alpharetta, Georgia, who previously played for Banks, has three goals and two assists in very limited playing time this season.“It’s been growing and growing, getting better and better,” Desko said of the quality of youth lacrosse in Georgia, “and Solomon’s a result of that growth.”When Banks moved to Georgia nine years ago, this wasn’t his original plan. But he noticed the community was energetic about lacrosse and the level of coaching wasn’t as good as it could be.In order to push the region into an even more prominent position on the lacrosse recruiting map, Banks realized the area needed to attract teams to play near Atlanta. So LB3 started hosting the Cobb County Classic. Then Banks “worked my tail off” to attract the Blaze.Last year alone, 27 players involved with the LB3 lacrosse program went on to play in college.“Once players see lacrosse played at the highest level,” Banks said, “suddenly they want to be just like those guys.” Related Stories Syracuse men’s lacrosse roundtable: SU’s strategy for UNC, which player needs to step up and the goalie situationSyracuse’s man-up unit is having its best season in the last 35 years UPDATED: April 26, 2016 at 11:38 a.m.Just before his team took the makeshift lacrosse field at Citizens Bank Park, the Philadelphia Phillies home stadium, Liam Banks confronted one of his friends. Banks was coaching his club team, LB3 Atlanta, and his friend was coaching NXT, a top club in Philadelphia and the host of the event.“‘Please don’t embarrass me, I let you guys into this,’” Banks recalled his friend saying about three years ago.But a travel lacrosse team from Atlanta beating up on one from a traditional hotbed like Philadelphia was still an unusual thought.LB3’s opponent, St. Augustine Prep, scored the first goal. LB3 scored the next 16.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse assistant coach Kevin Donahue walked up to Banks after the game, the LB3 coach said. He complimented the LB3 players’ stick skills and lacrosse IQ. Banks, who played at SU for Donahue in the early 2000s, realized that was a turning point.“It was at that moment that I knew that all that hard work and things behind the scenes were starting to pay off,” Banks said, “and I knew we had something special down here.”Banks, who is also the chief executive officer of LB3, is one of the most influential people in lacrosse’s expansion into Georgia. He moved to the Peach State from Philadelphia nine years ago and has helped Atlanta become one of the fastest growing hotbeds for the sport.On Friday, No. 4 seed Syracuse (8-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) will take on top-seeded North Carolina (8-5, 3-1) in the first round of the ACC tournament on Friday at 6 p.m. and the game will take place in Kennesaw, Georgia, at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.It’s where Major League Lacrosse’s Atlanta Blaze played its inaugural game on Saturday, where the Orange played in the first- and second-ever Cobb County Classic and where national powerhouses Duke and Denver met earlier this season in the third-ever annual event hosted by LB3.RELATED STORIES:Men’s lacrosse beat writers discuss three questions surrounding SUSyracuse’s man-up unit is having its best season in 35 years Fifteen years ago, Jeff Wilks moved to Atlanta and eventually became a coach in the LB3 club. He had played lacrosse while growing up in Massachusetts but didn’t continue as a student at Syracuse. After moving to Atlanta, he met Banks and helped LB3 flourish.Back in 2001, there were only about eight programs in existence, Wilks said. Now, there are well over 100. And as more and more former players and coaches started living the area, the game became more and more popular.“‘If this game was around when I was growing up,’” Wilks recalled parents telling him, “‘I would have played it.’”The moment that Wilks points to when he realized lacrosse had made significant progress in Atlanta is when he was walking through a Dick’s Sporting Goods in 2009.Wilks saw SU midfielder Josh Amidon on a poster for STX lacrosse sticks, he said. It was only a small section in the store, but it had a lasting effect.“I was like, ‘Holy cow, they’re selling lacrosse sticks in Dick’s in Georgia.’”Seven years later, the lacrosse section in Dick’s is as large as ever. And with the ACC tournament coming to Kennesaw starting on Friday, the rising hotbed is the stage for the nation’s best conference.Atlanta still has a long way to go, in talent and in history, to match places like Baltimore, central New York and Long Island. But for the time being, Atlanta’s lacrosse scene is growing fast and furious.“It’s coming faster than people think,” Banks said. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 26, 2016 at 1:11 am Contact Paul: [email protected] | @pschweds Matt Hankin | Design Editorlast_img read more

Read More »

Simmons shines in opener but Gayle, Bravo fail

first_imgDUBAI, United Arab Emirates, (CMC):Superstar opener Chris Gayle made an inauspicious start to the Pakistan Super League with a failure but Lendl Simmons hit an unbeaten half-century to propel Karachi Kings to a seven-wicket victory in their opening game of the Pakistan Super League here yesterday.Sent in at the Dubai International Stadium, Gayle’s Lahore Qalanders managed just 125 for eight off their 20 overs, with the West Indies left-hander scoring just six.He perished to the fourth ball of the game, holding out too long on off-spinner Shoaib Malik with the score on six.Wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan top scored with 37 from 31 deliveries, while Sohaib Maqsood struck 22, to be the only two batsmen past 20.West Indies teammate Dwayne Bravo also failed to get among the runs, scoring a run-a-ball 14 before he was bowled by paceman Mohammed Amir in the penultimate over.Simmons then took command of the game for Kings, hammering an unbeaten 62 to guide them home with 25 deliveries remaining in the run chase.The right-hander faced 46 balls and counted eight fours and two sixes and put on 109 for the third wicket with Bangladeshi Shakib Al Hasan who made 51 off 35 balls with three fours and three sixes.Their stand pulled Kings around from a dangerous position of four runs for two wickets in the second over.Bravo proved expensive with his two overs of medium pace, conceding 27 runs and going wicketless.In the second game of the day at the venue, Jamaica and West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell took three wickets but his Islamabad United crashed to a 24-run defeat to Darren Sammy’s Peshawar Zalmi.Batting first, Zalmi tallied 145 for seven with opener Tamim Iqbal stroking a run-a-ball 51 with three fours and a six.Sammy, the West Indies Twenty20 captain, scored just ten before he was run out with three balls left in the innings.Medium pacer Russell claimed three for 31 from his four overs but then had no such luck with the bat, falling for a run-a-ball 12 as United crawled to 121 for nine.last_img read more

Read More »