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Maryland men's lacrosse: Tillman talks about win over Penn

Men's lacrosse coach John Tillman's thoughts on Maryland's home opening 11-7 win over the 11th ranked Penn Quakers.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Win or lose, head coaches have the usually unenviable task of meeting with media members and Maryland men's lacrosse coach John Tillman is no exception. Tillman is a great talker who gives long detailed answers. I've transcribed most of his post game press conference following Maryland's 11-7 win over Penn on Tuesday and added (sometimes in fun) my personal take on some of what he had to say. Here's your chance to agree with me. Or not.

Opening Statement

Tillman: Proud of our guys just to bounce back on a short couple of days and get a ‘W' against a quality team like Penn that had seven days to prepare and is a really well coached team with a very experienced coaching staff. I'm proud of the way our guys fought. We were a little sloppy at times but we played with a lot more energy. I thought the guys did a better job of sharing the ball and making simpler plays and not trying to make the big play.

I thought Coach Reppert really made some nice adjustments with the offense in terms of getting them organized. and I think after a tough start, Kyle (Bernlohr) settled down and really gave us a lift.

Todd's Take: We were a little sloppy at times - This is a coach understating what he saw on the field. After committing 18 turnovers in the first two games combined, the Terps gave the ball away 22 times against Penn.

On facing an Ivy League team for the second consecutive game:

Tillman: We just thought we had another really good team. Penn came in 2-0. They were number three in the country at the end of last year so they got a home game. Sometimes you look at the schedule and think, it'd be nice to have another week but the other way to approach it is - and this is how we approached it - was to say to the team, ‘We've got an opportunity right in front of us. This is the best thing for us. We've got to get back on the horse.'

Obviously you hope you win at that point but I think because the taste was so bad in our mouth, I think the guys were very motivated by that. We basically told the guys we'll find out a lot about who we are on Tuesday. We're either going to step forward or we're going to step back. Being a Maryland team there should be no stepping back.

I thought over the last couple of days we asked some guys to step up leadership wise and Isaiah Davis-Allen did a great job. Matt Dunn's done a great job. Kyle Berhlohr's done a really good job and this was really like our first gut check. The first time that things haven't gone well. To me it was going to be an early decisive point in our season to figure out how we do.

Todd's Take: To me it was going to be an early decisive point in our season - I'm not  sure that the third game of a 14 game regular season is necessarily a ‘decisive point' but should give the coaches and fans a sense of how the team will react when they face adversity and how to approach them as the season progresses.

On the team's effort after the fourth quarter at Yale:

Tillman: That game was such a weird game and some of the things that happened I'm not sure why they happened. I do think that Yale came out ready to play. I thought at 6-6 in that game we just tried to muscle the ball too much. Because it was the first time we were in a tight spot we had a lot of guys trying to make the (one big) play instead of just letting the ball do the work, getting them flowing  defensively, and then getting them extended and looking for opportunities. We just wanted to get to the goal, get to the goal, get to the goal regardless of what was in front of us.

We were pretty tough on our guys and pretty critical when we watched the film. There were definitely some guys not happy with our comments. But when we got done we reminded them that we've all made mistakes. It's what do we learn from that and can we grow and can we improve and I think the guys did a good job with that.

Todd's Take: We were pretty tough on our guys and pretty critical when we watched the film - We let the team know in no uncertain terms that in the fourth quarter 0-5 faceoffs, 1-6 ground balls, and 1 shot on goal in 8 attempts is unacceptable.

On seeing the team score 11 goals:

Tillman: Getting off to a good start and getting four in the first quarter I thought was good. And I thought so much of it was ball movement, ball movement, ball movement. It was what we wanted. It was sharing it, moving, getting everybody involved and not letting the ball die and everybody stand around and watch one guy dodge which is what happened on Saturday. There were a lot of guys watching and one guy trying to do it all. We're kind of a new team in a lot of ways. Mike Chanenchuk isn't here so a lot times you're going to have to have other leaders step up and I thought Jay Carlson's done a good job helping us get organized and calling out sets. I thought the guys really bought into trusting each other and knowing that if I give it up there's a good chance I'm going to get it back at some point and I don't have to make the play myself if we all work together it could be any of us.

Todd's Take: And I thought so much of it was ball movement, ball movement, ball movement - Apparently the coach sees seven assists on 11 goals as a good thing.

On the dynamic between coaches and players

Tillman: Part of this is development of young people and we always compare what we do to  what's going to happen in the real world. So, (in the Yale game) we (the team) didn't do some things so well and we (the coaches) jumped on them.

We said, ‘Listen. We're going to jump on you. Your parents care about you. Have you ever been yelled at by your parents? Well, we unconditionally love you guys but when it calls for it we're going to let you know. Part of that is we're going to try to harden that steel and give you a little bit of toughness so that you understand that if you have a boss and he gets on you and you crumble, you're not going to be working very long. It's not about liking us right now. It's about you playing as well as you can and know that we do have your backs regardless. We just have to do things better or you're not going to get what you want. Some of the mistakes we've been making, we've been talking about since August and it hasn't gotten better.'

So it was at a point where it was okay, we're going to make a little bit of a stand. You may not like the way we say it but we're going to hammer it home. Don't worry about the tone. Worry about the message. And I thought the guys responded pretty well to that.

When you look at the ground ball stats in the first half, that said a lot about the way the guys came out. When you're going 20-5 in the first half, obviously that's great. John Garino did an amazing job at the ‘X' tonight. And the wing guys - Matt Neufeldt took more wings than he's had. Isaiah Davis-Allen is doing what he always does and Mike McCarney and Adam DiMillo did a good job, too.

Todd's Take: We said, ‘Listen. We're going to jump on you - The walls of the film room and locker room are being repainted as we speak. Seriously, though, the Terps finished with a 36-22 edge in ground balls. Whatever Tillman and his staff said clearly resonated with the team. It wasn't simply getting to the ground balls but the physicality and hustle with which they went after them. This was a different team from the one that played the fourth quarter at Yale.

On the adjustments to the offense by Coach Reppert:

Tillman: It was about spacing, making the extra pass and not letting the ball die. The ball just died in sticks on Saturday. It was like one guy dodging and the defense just kind of settled in and we didn't make them move. Tonight we made the defense move a little bit more and that opened up opportunities as we got in and got out. That's the type of team we need to be. We're not going to be a 20 goal scoring team but I think we can be a pretty opportunistic and efficient team and when we're getting faceoff wins that makes a big difference. We weren't getting a lot of face offs in the first two games. When you get more possessions and you value those possessions and you shoot a little bit smarter, it all works together.

Todd's Take: We're not going to be a 20 goal scoring team - Looks like TT community will have to brace themselves for another season of comments complaining about Maryland's offense. The truth is we will have to see if the shots get smarter. Maryland put their highest percentage of shots on goal (21 of 34) in the opener against Navy. That fell off the table (14 of 34) at Yale and landed in the middle (21 of 42) against Penn. But the season is young.

On what John Garino did to be so successful and the status of Charlie Raffa:

Tillman: He was really good on the whistle. He was really disciplined. We didn't do a great job of that on Saturday. We moved early. We weren't patient. The new rules make it tough. You can be down there for a while. Once they get you down, they can sit and adjust, adjust, adjust and you've got to be disciplined and we didn't do a good job of that on Saturday. We worked on that the last couple of days. He stayed low and when he came out of his move he stayed low. There were a couple of times on Saturday when he came out of his move he stood up and when you stand up really fast sometimes the ball gets lodged in the other guy's stick so you've got to stay low and stay through the move. Once it came out, he was better on the first scoop. He missed a couple of the first ground balls last week and then it became a 50-50. This time when it came out a lot of times he got it the first time and was able to get a little bit of space to get safety then find the next guy.

Charlie didn't dress. He would really have like to have played but it would have been a battle with our trainer and he's the boss. We'll see how Charlie does Tuesday. We had three or four guys ready to go but John did such a good job we didn't have to go to anybody else.

Todd's Take: Nothing insightful from me but I thought you all might find the comments on faceoff technique interesting.