A Look Ahead to 2008 – N.Y. Titans Primed For A Breakout?

New York Titans
Paul StewartWith the 2008 NLL season just over a month away, we thought it was time to start getting geared up for the action. To do so, we are going to, over the next few weeks be speaking with a few of the men in positions to make change and guide the teams over the course of the season…..the Coaches and General Managers.

First off, we speak with the Assistant Head Coach of the New York Titans, Paul Stewart. The Titans in their first NLL season last year, had a very respectable one. Four wins and twelve losses are not what everyone wanted, but for an expansion team, with many new faces, it was a very good start.  Many people, including myself, have very optimistic expectations of this team in 2008. With a core group returning, including Matt Vinc in net, and stars like Casey Powell, Ryan Boyle, and Matt Zash, the Titans should make some noise this season.

Enjoy….

GM:  The New York Titans surprised a lot of people in their 2007 inaugural season. With any success comes greater expectations. Do you feel the team is set to exceed their ’07 successes?

PS: I think we are definitely set to improve. We went into last season with a ton of rookies, and when I say rookies I mean players who had never played box lacrosse before. All of those guys have a year under their belt and should come into this season with much more confidence and composure. Hopefully that will translate into a better on field product.

GM: The Titans picked up Patrick Merrill in the dispersal draft. Describe what Pat will bring to your team.

PS: With Pat we get a number of great qualities. First and foremost is the leadership and experience that he brings to our room and as a floor general. Pat comes from Toronto where anything less than a championship is considered a failure, and we are hoping that attitude rubs off.  Secondly he plays a very solid and tough style of defence; just having him at practice makes my job easier because rather than trying to explain something, I can now just point at Pat and say ‘do that’.

GM: New York had their first camp for the coming season on November 10. How did that go and were there any surprises?

PS: We had a sort of rookie/invite camp. I think 5 or 6 vets that lived close showed up and we all agreed that compared to last year that quality of the players and the intensity of the camp was substantially better.  I think now that we have had a season, players have been to games or watched them on TV and have something to get excited about. Last year a bunch of guys were just there to try it out. Now we have 40 guys that actually want a spot, and probably 25 or so good enough to take one.

GM: The Titans focused much of the draft this season on defensive and transition players. Is that a targeted area for improvement this year?

PS: Statiscally we had the worst D in the league last year. A great deal of that was inexperience, with 5 of our 8 starters playing box for the first time. We do need to improve in that regard and that was addressed at the draft. The theory behind taking a transitional style D guy is that if he is used to playing D and then running the length of an outdoor field then he should be able to play stay at home all out for 30 seconds.

GM: It looks as though the team will be playing most of their home games at Madison Square Garden this season. Do you feel that will bring a little more stability to the team, playing out of one location?

PS: Hopefully, although having said that due to the labour dispute we only have 5 games there and they are pretty spaced out. Two years from now it should feel like home.

GM: Who do you look for on the team this season to potentially have a breakout season?

PS: Two summers ago Matt Vinc was playing field lacrosse and then stepped into our goal cold and faced about 700 shots a game. This summer he stuck to playing goal in major and faced about 600 shots per game so he should really be able to step it up.

Hopefuly our entire team steps it up a notch and we take a giant step towards being a contender.

GM: Thanks Paul and good luck this season.

PS: Thanks.

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2 Comments

  1. 700 shots a game? That sounds a little high to me…

  2. Graeme, I believe Paul was joking a little with us….


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