Sunday, May 10, 2015

Lacrosse (Sunday brunch: May 10, 2015)

As the Stanley Cup playoffs go on, May is also the time for the NCAA lacrosse tournament.  And in honor of the 25th anniversary of their victory in Rutgers Stadium, ESPN is premiering “The Lost Trophy,” a film on the 1990 Syracuse University lacrosse team.  (hit the link there for the trailer)

That was the height of the razzle-dazzle era when the Orangemen and their up-tempo offense introduced behind-the-back passes, “Air Gait,” and other breathtaking moves to what was then a tradition-bound sport.  It also was when lacrosse really began to take hold outside its old homes in Baltimore, Long Island, and upstate New York.

Coach Roy Simmons Jr. lived down the road from where I grew up.  My mother (appropriate to bring her inot the story today) played tennis with Nancy Simmons, I played summer ball for him one year while I was in college, and we sold some of Roy’s art at the gallery my mother ran on Nantucket one summer.

Yes, art.  Besides winning six national championships as a Division I coach, Roy was also a full professor at the university.  To Roy, sculpture and coaching were one and the same.  He believed that seeing the field and the flow of the play was essential to playing one’s best, so the first rainy day each season he’d take the team to the Everson Museum to look at art.  It also encouraged creativity, which when mixed with the hard-nosed style of box lacrosse as played in the Iroquois community of Syracuse and its environs (Chief Oren Lyons was Roy’s teammate at Syracuse and a lifelong friend and alter ego), revolutionized the sport.

But the NCAA officially vacated the 1990 title after it was alleged that the Simmons family gave inappropriate benefits to Paul Gait.  The film takes us back for an in-depth look at the clash not just between the SU program and the NCAA, but also between the new vision Syracuse had and the staid, preppy expectations of the rest of the lacrosse world.  I’m looking forward to seeing this film.    

This week’s new puzzles:

The Wall Street Journal has a Patrick Berry variety crossword called “Curly Quote.”  Another nicely assembled and novel puzzle.  Hints are elsewhere on the blog in case you have trouble figuring out which direction to place your first few answers.

The New York Times has a straight cryptic by Hex, which Deb Amlen of Wordplay (spoiler warning) enjoyed immensely.

Mark Halpin has his quarterly Sondheim Review puzzle up.  It’s called “A Deadly Game” and refers to the movie “The Last of Sheila,” which Sondheim co-wrote.

Regular straight cryptics:
Hex in the National Post: Woman in Red (blogged by Falcon).  A quick solve.
Stickler: (taking a week off)
Syndicated in the Globe and Mail: The syndicate does not identify its constructors, and I’d really like to know who set this one.  If you expect Ximenean cluing, you will have a very hard time with it.

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