Tewaaraton Trophy Sparks Confusion

Controversy swirls around the Tewaaraton Trophy…at least around these parts. The purpose and the criteria for the award are unclear and seem to conspire against a winner coming from Denver.

Tewaaraton is the Mohawk name given for the native game that has evolved into present-day lacrosse. Many believe that the Tewaaraton Trophy, created in 2001, is given to the most valuable player in lacrosse. Actually, the lesser-known Lt. Raymond Enners Award is the official NCAA Outstanding Player of the Year Award selected by the NCAA coaches.  The Tewaaraton Trophy recipient has not been the same as the Raymond Enners Award recipient in 5 out of the first 11 years that the Tewaaraton was awarded.

Confused? So what exactly is the Tewaaraton Trophy?

The Tewaaraton is an award often  given to a player who plays well during the season-ending NCAA tournament and from a team which is often the winner or runner-up in the NCAA Tournament. Players are nominated for the award by coaches from all three NCAA divisions during the collegiate season. All Watch-List nominees are then screened and selected by two Selection Committees. The Selection Committees are composed of collegiate coaches, one committee for the men and one committee for the women. At the conclusion of the season, the selection committees meet to rank the top five male and female finalists. The finalists are then invited to the Awards Banquet, where the Tewaaraton Trophy winners are announced.

In addition to being a relatively new award, it is a regional award. It identifies the best players from both private and public schools in the Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia area. So it is a peculiar award that may or may not be awarded to what many of us traditionally think of as an MVP.

Denver head coach Bill Tierney started his incredible career in 1982. Since the inception of the Tewaaraton in 2001, Tierney has won two national championships, lost once in the finals, lost 4 times in the semifinals, lost 4 times in the quarterfinals,  and lost two games in the 1st round. The closest a Tierney player came to winning was Wes Berg last year who finished second to the high scoring and well-deserved winner Lyle Thompson.

Prior to the Tawaaraton Trophy, Tierney had two players who won the Lt. Raymond Enners Award at Princeton in 1993-94 with David Morrow and Scott Bacigalupo respectively.

Coach Bill Tierney and assistant head coach Matt Brown emphasize sharing the ball. Is there any doubt that Connor Cannizzaro (61 points/13 games) and Zach Miller (37 points/13 games) would be racking up huge numbers on almost any other team? The DU system rewards sharing the ball and, ultimately, winning championships – not individual accolades.

The other head scratcher this year is the national media push for Notre Dame’s defenseman Matt Landis to win the Tewaaraton. If one looks at DU’s Christian Burgdorf’s body of work, he should be favored to win the award over Landis – led by Burgdorf, DU’s defense shut down Notre Dame’s offense for most of the game. While the Pioneers give up slightly more goals per game than Notre Dame (9.06 Goals allowed-DU vs. 7.71-ND goals allowed), Christian Burgdorf is more deserving than Landis on merit.

The current odds-on favorite for the Tewaaraton is Brown’s Dylan Malloy who has led the Bears to a 14-1 record. He has 51 goals and 99 points and has a shot at breaking Thompson’s scoring record from last year. He is the odds-on favorite to be awarded the Lt. Raymond Enners Award and the Tewaaraton – even if Brown does not make it to the Final Four in Philadelphia.

If DU faces Brown in the NCAA playoffs, it will be exciting to watch Burgdorf defend Malloy – I’d like DU’s odds.