As Duke plays Johns Hopkins for the national title Monday, lacrosse finds
itself at a new level nationally. The sport, called the "little
brother of war" by Native Americans who first played it, has really caught
on with a lot of people nationwide. It has some significant challenges, as
well, as does Duke in the title game.
To the casual observer, Hopkins is a university with no athletic tradition -
no basketball, no football, no baseball reputations, although Jim Valvano
coached there, and we have this vague, probably faulty memory, that Duke
scheduled Hopkins once in basketball. But
they are a powerhouse in lacrosse.
Hopkins sent the entire Olympic (exhibition) lacrosse team in 1928 and 1932,
and they have won, in different eras, all or part of 41 national championships
and seven since the NCAA started the lacrosse tourney.
Really, you could combine the success of UCLA, Kentucky, Indiana, UNC, and
Duke have had in basketball, and get some idea of the dominance Hopkins has had
in their favorite sport.
For Duke, it's going to be a tough game, because first of all - and we say
this because we've read it, not because we know the first thing about lacrosse -
Hopkins is a tough defensive team, and defense usually wins championships in
But second, Hopkins has an aura that's tough to even approximate. We're
absolute novices, yet we grew up knowing that Hopkins, along with Maryland,
Syracuse, and Virginia, were the real powerhouses of the sport. We don't know if
Jim Brown played lacrosse before he got to Syracuse or not, but he was an
All-American in that sport as well as football. If we recall correctly, so
was Maryland's Randy White back in the '70s. These are not guys you really
want slamming into you without pads. You can imagine trying to hunt down
Jim Brown in the open field.
Obviously, we're hoping Duke pulls it off, but it won't be easy.
However, they did play earlier this season, in Baltimore, and Duke lost in
double OT, 11-10, so
The game is going to be on ESPN at noon, so pull up a chair, enjoy the
holiday, and let's go Duke!