By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
This past summer, the Colgate Raiders administration hired Matt Karweck as the team’s new men’s lacrosse head coach. He is the only new head coach at the school during this 2018-19 academic year.
Former head coach Mike Murphy resigned in July to become the new lacrosse coach at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
“I’m honored,” Karweck said. “It’s one of those things, where I’ve always wanted to be a head coach. I’m from Upstate New York and I know all about this area. Colgate is a special place. I had not had any relationship with this place when I lived two hours away. But having been a coach at the Division 1 level for a long-time now, this was an opportunity for me to get back here at a place that has high academics, just like it was for me at Notre Dame. The athletic talent here is ridiculous. This place is a small liberal arts school with great academics.
“This is a place, where I want to continue to build my career. When this opportunity came up, it was extremely exciting for me. I knew I could potentially come here and do some damage in the Patriot League. I respect all the coaches, who have coached here before. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this place. I’m really excited about it.”
This is Karweck’s first head coaching experience at the Division I level. He previously served eight seasons as an assistant coach. He was previously a club head coach from 2007 through 2010 with the Indiana Hoosiers.
“So much about being a head coach is managing the people around your program,” Karweck said. “I lived in the trenches for a long-time, as an assistant coach and doing some recruiting. All of those things make the program go. Now, when you’re sitting in the big seat, you have to rely on your coaching staff and Team Colgate to make things happen. That’s everyone from your athletic trainer, strength coach, assistants, operation directors, and compliance offers to help you through some issues that I might not have seen before. The beautiful part about this place is it’s so easy to work here. Everyone is so amazing from up front in Michelle in our office to our Athletic Director and President that make it such a great community to work for.
“I’m sitting in an office right now with the Patriot League soccer coach next door with hockey and soccer over here. I’m surrounded by great coaches. A place like Colgate allows you to do the things you want to do. It’s so exciting as a coach. I’m excited to have my assistant coaches on staff.”
He hired Chris Cooper and John Crawley as assistant coaches. Nick Acquaviva is the team’s volunteer assistant coach. Pat Shelley is the team’s Director of Lacrosse Operations.
Both Cooper and Crawley have ties to Karweck from his time at Notre Dame.
“John Crawley was an assistant coach with me at Notre Dame,” he said. “We were having these conversations about ‘what if we can do this, or what if we can do that’ and we were having these conversations before we’ve even had this opportunity. He’s been an awesome asset to our staff. He brings a great mindset to the game. Chris Cooper, I’ve known him for multiple years now and we’ve also had those same conversations about what if we could do this. I know he’s a great coach and done great things at Binghamton beforehand. He also coached under Mike Caravana at Denison for a bunch of years, before an opportunity, like my opportunity, like working under Coach [Kevin] Kerrigan came from working under our coaching body.
“Chris comes from a great background. I’m excited to have him. My final assistant Nick Acquaviva comes from Cortland, where he was an unbelievable goalie. He’s going to be working with our goalies and our face-off guys. He’s going to be working our goalies and hopefully, we give them the attention they need as we move into the stretch run of the season. I’m super excited about my staff.”
Karweck takes over a team that went 7-8 during the 2018 season. Their last winning season came in 2015 when the team went 10-6.
He is changing the culture of the team.
“One of the biggest things I want people to know is that the previous staff here did an unbelievable job,” Karweck said. “Whatever their record is, sometimes you get caught up in how the record feels, but Mike Murphy really cared about these guys. Him and his staff really put a heck of a staff together. We keep talking about it in the office that we’re the luckiest coaches around here. We came to a group of guys that are motivated, excited to win, and know how to work hard. Frankly, they’re all really good players. We’re really excited about the opportunity going forward. I have to give credit to Mike, because we didn’t put any of this together. This is all his work. We’re trying to figure out how these pieces fit together and motivate our guys to work hard.”
This decade, the Raiders have five winning seasons in men’s lacrosse. Their best season during this time was a 14-4 mark in 2012.
The program has made the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament in 2012 and 2015.
“I don’t know much about the 2015 season frankly,” Karweck said. “As far as winning ways goes, do I try to bring it back to when they had a good run? My philosophy is this and this is what I believe in. I want to help my guys find the best versions of themselves. If we start with that, everything we do, including the relationships with our players, the way we develop them off the field, the positive energy we’re using in practice with a deliberate practice mindset, it helps us get to the next level developmentally. If I have a particular attack man want to be a great attack man, which is what you want hopefully, I want to give him how you want to be the best attack man out there. They’ll probably do it, because kids today just want to be told what to do. You have to transition their mindset on how they do things. They want the prescription to be the greatest.
“I don’t think the way you get to be the greatest version of yourself is doing the things other people expect you to do. It doesn’t mean they’re going to play willy nilly, but what that does is, helping other guys to help find out and search and own your own development. If you can do that, it comes from an internal place and not an external place. They’re not trying to please me. That’s not my objective here. I want them to own their development and understand what it takes to help us get to the next level to start winning. If all of our guys want to get to the next level, it has to start with that internal development and ownership of what they want to do. We hope our guys find their best versions of themselves in a positive and fun way to keep them motivated to come to practice the next day to get better and off the field in what they want to do or finding internships. Once they start focusing on the off the field stuff, the stuff on the field will take care of itself.”
The team returns its two leading scorers from the 2018 season. Griffin Brown had 34 goals, while Mike Hawkins had 30 goals. Combined, they scored 64 of the team’s 178 goals.
“Frankly that doesn’t mean much right now,” Karweck said. “That was last year. Griffin and Mike are both great players no doubt about it. What I would like to talk about is this year has changed. You’re not going to be able to play the same way you’ve played last year. With the shot clock now, it changes the dynamic of the game. It’s the same typically, but the things you do offensively — the way you attack offensively — it can’t be what it was beforehand. Offenses were forever before there was a shot clock in see how much we can work to make the defense tired so we can A) rest our defense on the other end and B) make their defense so tired that we can score. The minute and a half possession is what coaches always talked about. How hard can you do that? How well can you execute for a high level before scoring on defenses? Now, you cannot do that. Now, you have to score. You’re looking at a minute after you’re getting it past midfield. The more organized you can get and how quick you can get there, it’s going to be really important.
“Griffin and Hawk scored a lot of goals last year, but that doesn’t mean anything this year. It means they were at the right moment at the right time. It means a guy like Sam Cleveland, who had 31 assists (in 2018), while Matt Donovan and Duncan Hoskinson had multiple hockey assists throughout their careers. Those guys are the guys, who make the other guys in the scoring column look like good players. The more our team is being unselfish and moving the ball the best they can, we’re probably going to have some other guys, who are going to score from being at the right place at the right time. I want the guys working together in the shot clock era. You have to be really efficient and great stick work to get it done.”
In Sept. 2018, the NCAA mandated an 80-second shot clock for the 2019 season. The shot clock will have a 20-second clearing count, where the player with the ball must advance the ball past the midfield line. If the ball is not over in 20 seconds, there is a violation.
If a team clears in less than 20 seconds, the additional time will be added to the minimum shot clock.
“The biggest thing I think you’ll see is teams going in and out of zone and man” Karweck said. “If you push the tempo and teach your guys to push tempo, then you can be really good in this shot clock era and once it settles down on the 6-on-6, that’ll be phase one. The first phase is the transition phase. How do you clear the ball? It is really hard in the 20-second era. Then, the second phase is, how do you transition your offense? Then, the third phase is the 6-on-6, in which you’ll probably have 40 seconds or so. How do you slam dunk that ball in 40 seconds?
“We maybe have 2-3 phases of offense in that time. The last phase is that least 12 seconds. What do you do with the last 12 seconds? Do you go all-in? Do you utilize the dive? Do you dump the ball in the corner? Do you take a spinning bounce shot from 25-yards out and hit the goalie? There’s so many different options out there. First, you have to guard against it. I think it’s more important how you manage the clock and how your guys manage the clock and transition to the next phase.”
Colgate won its season-opener on Friday night against No. 10 Syracuse. This was the second upset of Top 10 teams last week, as High Point defeated No. 2 Duke on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
The Raiders have now won two straight season-openers.
“We want to win every game. One of my mentors, Kevin Corrigan at Notre Dame, has a saying, ‘Have you ever played a game you didn’t want to win?’ We want to win them all. In order to get to the next level, if we don’t win the regular season and win the [Patriot League] tournament, we’re not going to get into the [NCAA] tournament. We want to win the Patriot League. Then, we want to make some noise and you never know what will happen.
“If you look at the history of the NCAA Tournament, teams, who have won their tournament, then went on runs. However, it takes, you have to get to the NCAA’s. We know our path is through the Patriot League. We have to do whatever it takes to win the Patriot League tournament.”