ALBANY — Back to normal.
Months out from his team’s first game of the 2020 season, that’s how University at Albany men’s lacrosse head coach Scott Marr views the status of his program after a couple weeks of fall practices.
“Our energy is great. Our positivity is awesome,” Marr said after Monday’s workout. “It’s been a really fun fall so far because our vibe and our energy is so good.”
He added: “It feels like us.”
Too often in the year that followed UAlbany’s trip to the 2018 national semifinals, that wasn’t the case for the Great Danes, who struggled to their first losing season since 2012. UAlbany went 5-9 in 2019 and saw its season end in the America East semifinals, a fitting finish to a disappointing campaign for which Marr said last May he took “full responsibility.”
Even before that 2019 season got started, things weren’t quite right for the Great Danes. Best-in-the-nation faceoff specialist TD Ierlan transferred out of the program not long after the run to the national semifinals, while star attackman Tehoka Nanticoke missed last fall’s practices for “personal reasons.” Distractions for the program continued when the season came around, as Nanticoke missed one game because of an NCAA eligibility issue and was benched for another, while Marr verbally tussled with the NCAA over the Nanticoke-related eligibility issue.
Move ahead to now, and Marr said his program is in a different place — and it looked like it at Monday’s fall-ball practice at John Fallon Field, which has a brand-new turf. That session closed with a fast-paced, well-played intrasquad scrimmage that needed overtime to deliver a winner, which came when senior Mitch Laffin scored.
Meanwhile, Marr described his freshman class of 14 as “really solid” with several players capable of contributing right away, and praised Nanticoke — now a junior — for his attitude and effort.
“He’s been awesome. He’s been a vocal leader,” Marr said of Nanticoke, who returns to practice this week for UAlbany after missing recent sessions to compete in the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship for the runner-up Iroquois Nationals. “He’s been having a lot of fun and doing a nice job with our young guys.”
UAlbany is already dealing with several injuries, including one for senior star Jakob Patterson. But while Patterson — the reigning America East Offensive Player of the Year — won’t play the rest of this fall for UAlbany because of a knee injury, Marr said the attackman is expected to be ready for when the team’s formal preseason starts.
“If we were in season, Jakob would be back in [approximately] three weeks,” Marr said.
UAlbany’s alumni game takes place Friday, and the Great Danes will compete in fall-ball scrimmages Oct. 12 at the University of Pennsylvania. UAlbany will play Penn and Army at the event.
Marr said he is confident in how his team will look during its fall-ball scrimmages.
“It just feels a lot different from where we were at this time last year,” Marr said.
Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.