On Thursday, the Big East announced the results of the preseason voting of the league's men's lacrosse coaches. Marquette redshirt juniors Liam Byrnes, B.J. Grill, and Kyle Whitlow were all named to the Big East's preseason all-conference squad, while the Golden Eagles as a team were picked to finish fourth.
Denver is the preseason favorite to win the league as a unanimous favorite, getting all of the first place votes except for Pioneers head coach Bill Tierney. Coaches aren't allowed to vote for their own teams, which means Tierney had to vote for someone... and he picked the Golden Eagles. That's probably a large reason that while Marquette officially finished fourth in the six team balloting, they're only two points behind second place Georgetown. The Hoyas tallied 18 points, Villanova snagged 17, and Marquette finished with 16 points. St. John's is waaaaaay back in fifth with nine points, and Providence was a unanimous choice to finish last with five points.
In my predictions, I had Denver as my pick to win the league because I know a national freight train when I see one. I went with the Golden Eagles in second, followed by Villanova and Georgetown in that order, and given that the Big East coaches can barely tell the difference between the three, I feel pretty good about that.
To no one's real surprise, Denver snagged both of the individual preseason awards. Wes Berg was the obvious pick as preseason Offensive Player of the Year. He was a all-BE First Teamer last year and is the leading returning points and goals scorer from last season. Christian Burgdorf was tabbed as the Defensive Player of the Year. I suppose it was really a coin toss between Burgdorf and Grill, as they were both on the postseason First Team last year. I went with Grill because of his performances against St. John's Kieran McArdle and Notre Dame's Matt Kavanaugh (a combined zero goals against MU, 82 combined goals against everyone else in 30 games last year), but hey, Burgdorf's the one running the show on a national championship favorite, so that's fine.
Let's hit the full all-conference team list...
Preseason All-BIG EAST
^ Ryan LaPlante, Denver, Sr., GK
^ Wesley Berg, Denver, Sr., A
^ Zach Miller, Denver, So., A
Jack Bobzien, Denver, Jr., A
^ Erik Adamson, Denver, Sr., M
Jack Curran, Villanova, Jr., M
Kyle Whitlow, Marquette, RS-Jr., M
Peter Conley, Georgetown, So., M
^ B.J. Grill, Marquette, RS-Jr., D
^ Christian Burgdorf, Denver, So., D
^ Mark DiFrangia, St. John's, Sr., D
Jarrod Neumann, Providence, So., D
^ Liam Byrnes, Marquette, RS-Jr., LSM
All of those carrots by the player names mark unanimous choices for the all-league team, and as was the case with the women's side of things, that's an awful lot of dudes showing up on all five possible ballots. The league named a 13 player team and I only picked an 11 man squad in my predictions. That probably made it a little easier to get my picks right, but I did get 10 of 11 guys correct. My only miss was expecting the conference to put a face off guy on the team (I picked Denver's Chris Hampton), and they didn't. That leaves Curran, DiFrangia, and Neumann as the three guys I didn't have. Curran and DiFrangia were all-Big East Second Team guys a year ago, so if I knew there was a 13 player team and no face off guy, they probably would have been easy picks. Neumann, though... I don't know about that, especially as a defenseman on a team that's picked to finish last.
Marquette opens the 2015 season against Lehigh on February 7th.