Feb. 1, 2012
University of Michigan men's lacrosse assistant coach Ken Broschart is U-M's defensive guru. The former defenseman at New York Institute of Technology coordinated the defense for Michigan's club team in 2011 and maintains that role in the program's first year at the varsity level. Junior defenseman and captain J.D. Johnson, as well as senior Rob Healy, will be expected to anchor the defense. Senior Austin Swaney is transitioning to long-stick midfield and junior captain Sean Sutton will play at defensive midfield to form the core of U-M's defense.
MGoBlue.com: How different will this defense look as compared to the one you ran in 2011?
Ken Broschart: I would say it is a complete 180. We are much more of a slow-down team, maybe a little more of a conservative team and way more technical in terms of what we have to do. There is no room for mistakes at this level, where as a club team we were able to play a little looser and it's okay to make mistakes because we did other things so well. It was okay because it got us in the type of game we wanted. In the type of game we have to play now, mistakes must be limited.
MGB: So what are the fundamentals that this defense will focus upon?
KB: We are a little more team defense oriented, so we are more about our sliding packages and our help defense on the back side. As opposed to a team that would be very good one on one. I think with the athletes we have now it's going to be very tough to keep up one on one, so we have to be very good and very skilled on team defense. A lot of our principles go into that -- getting in off-ball really quick, staying a little bit tighter than usual just, so our slides are shorter, and being able to be on hands early. Lots of communication, if we can get better at communication we can make strides on that.
MGB: What are some things that the defense has improved upon since the fall?
KB: I think we are doing a lot of things better. One thing that we are doing better is getting our sticks up in the lane. We are getting our beginning slide package going pretty well, so our base defense is starting to look pretty good.
MGB: Who are the players you can rely upon on defense to start the season?
KB: On defense, we will be led by J.D. Johnson and Rob Healy. Those two will probably be our bookends on D. Then we have a couple of guys who are younger, like Dakota Sherman and a couple others that are younger. We're going to move Austin Swaney to long-stick middie, so he's going to be our starting long stick. He'll be very strong. I would say our one D-midfielder is Sean Sutton. He's a benchmark guy. Those four guys are going to be the nucleus of our D.
We have some guys who are starting to rise up and take control, especially at D-midfield right now, like Tommy Orr, a freshman who came out of nowhere. He was actually an offensive midfielder that got moved to D-midfield. He's playing great and aggressive. A guy like Fernando Murias; he's doing a nice job. He needs to get a little more physical. He's starting to become a better leader.
Mack Gembis is a guy we didn't expect much from coming in. He's very fundamental, but he's still got a lot to learn. He's probably going to play a big role, just because of our lack of depth on defense. Our defense right now is one of the weaker parts of our team if not the weakest, so we have to do a lot of work.
MGB: How many players would you like to cycle in and out of the lineup?
KB: I'd like to play probably four to five defensemen. I would say three or four D-midfielders depending on the situations. Hopefully, one long-stick midfielder, but our backup LSM, Andrew Hayden, is doing a nice job as well. That will pretty much be our nucleus. Right now we're not that deep. We have a lot of new guys. It's really unique. We switched a lot of guys over. Rob Healy is playing long stick for the first time; he's doing a great job. John Dimarco is playing long stick for the first time. Andrew Hayden is playing long stick for the first time. Nicolas Guerriero, who is hurt, is playing long stick for the first time. We have a lot of guys playing these positions for the first time ever in their careers and playing it at this level is kind of crazy.