Walax Exclusive - Head Coach Scott Marr Talks About Albany's Storied Season
University of Albany is having a storied season. An undefeated record both in the America East and overall, and by all rights, could end their season in the same manor. Big games left include Syracuse who has stumbled this year. Currently ranked 2nd in the Coaches poll, and 3rd in the inside lacrosse media poll, Albany is positioned to make a run have a big showing in the NCAA tourney this year.
What is it about this year’s team that has made such a difference in your ability to win big games?
I think we have been through the wars through the last few years, and we have learned how to win, and how to lose in big games last year. We knew we were going to have to fix our defense, and our goalie is playing great ball so far. We are now a junior/senior team, not a Freshman/Sophomore team. We are older, more experienced and only graduated one kid from last year. Albany learned a lot from last year’s season, and Maturity-wise, our kids have really grown up.
How does your coaching philosophy differ from others based on being a SUNY School, and the types of kids you want coming to your institution?
I have always been a big fan of how Syracuse and Virginia played over the years, and the same way when I coached at Maryland. I think the game is played at high pace and we want our kids to play at that pace all the time. As an example, Kentucky Basketball in the 90’s- every player on their tourney teams were a threat- catching, dribbling, anytime they had the ball. I want my guys to think the same way. Everyone that touches the ball is a threat, and we are always in attack mode. Our one word for the year is “relentless”. This is the same philosophy we have had even before we were winning games.
Now that the toughest part of the schedule is behind you, what will be the most pivotal game prior to the NCAA tourney?
We have two more conference games against Vermont and Binghamton, and two non-conference games in ‘cuse and Dartmouth. We focus on ourselves to prepare, and don’t look past any game in our schedule. We are playing at Binghamton, so a team at home can get up to beat us. It will be their last game of the year, and we haven’t played on grass in two years.
Of the teams you have faced, which presented the most difficult coaching game planning?
Either Hopkins or UMBC. UMBC has two very potent offensive players we knew we could do well against if we were able to neutralize them. Rabil, Huntley, Byrne for Hopkins are guys we obviously have to coach a game plan around.
You guys really came out of Fall Ball on fire, what are some of the things you guys do to help prepare for the season out of season?
We do a lot of things like flag football, floor hockey, Basketball. We work on getting in shape, having fun, and staying away Lacrosse for November and December. We try to keep them competing against one another by playing other sports. Playing a sport with different rules, and skills makes you think more about what you are doing, and help develop different skills- but playing games keeps morale high. We make it exciting to play and be on the team.
Who has been some of your biggest influences as a coach and how does that carry over to your kids?
One of my favorite coaches of all time is Roy Simmons at Syracuse. Sometimes being laid back is a good thing. Its fun to play and joke around with the kids, we have a lot of fun, and kids are comfortable around me and the staff. We promote this family atmosphere. It’s a two-way street, with mutual respect. We may not have the talent of the perennial top teams, but we have a lot of kids that really take pride in their practice; that work ethic and ability makes a better team. Everyone believes we are in this together; kids that work hard to get better day in and day out. Those kids get an opportunity to play when they do that. An example of that is Andrew Maini. He is a little down the chart on Midfield and we gave him an opportunity against Stoney Brook early in the game. He did a nice job, and got an assist. We got him back in to be a contributor later as well. We just talk about it and make good decisions based on who is playing well.
What differences do you see in collegiate lacrosse that proves most challenging for incoming High School players?
The game now is so fast; athletes and technology have really increased the pace of Lacrosse in college. The kid who comes in today, sees athletes all over the field. Now we have 6’4 and 6’5 physical players on defense, and that is an adjustment from High School with speed and power to match. Even players from the well established High School programs, have to adjust to the speed of the game coming in.
Thanks, Scott for taking the time out of your day for us.
Anytime, thanks for the support.