We recently got the chance to sit down with Mike DeWan, Vice President of the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference and Assistant Coach at Chapman University. He filled us in on the goings of the SLC for this season, here’s how it went.
What sorts of things are you up to with the conference these days?
The SLC is getting better and stronger year-by-year. As someone that helped create the league and split from the WCLL, it is very satisfying. We are hosting our league play-offs in Arizona this year. The entire board is very excited that we are having that happen. It will be good for our league, and great for our sport in Arizona.
What is your favorite part about being involved in the SLC?
Seeing the teams getting better every year. Us “old timers” talk a lot about how the league has changed. Back in the day, the individual players were better, but the teams as a whole couldn’t hold a stick compared to teams now. When I played, if you had 10 guys who could catch and throw with both hands, you were probably going to the tournament. Now these teams can go 22-26 deep, with not much of a fall off. It’s incredible.
Being in California and Arizona seems to be a great advantage for scheduling games and ensuring some great competition will head your way. Are there any big OOC games for the SLC that you are looking forward to this season?
Actually, the biased against our league is getting ridiculous. I remember last year, UCSB traveled 12 hours to play Arizona (whom at the time was ranked #15). But when tournament selection came around, the panel was like, “well that is a team in their own league. That doesn’t count.” (In full disclosure, I was one of the members on the tournament selection committee). I think people need to realize how big the states are out here.
But, you are right, the warm weather brings some great competition come spring time. As far as big OCC games, off of the top of my head, Michigan is traveling out here to play a couple of games. I know that USD and Chapman are both making trips to Utah, those should be good.
The SLC seems to always be a very dominate conference and consistently brings several teams into the top 23, what would you accredit this to?
Weather. No seriously, you can play year round out here. I also think, that as a league, we have the best coaching. I know that obviously I am biased, but I do. I give you an example: UCLA had a rough year last year. Jacques Bagley, their Head Coach, is a GREAT coach. My first year as a Head Coach at USD, we were up by 6 on them, and had to come back to beat them in Overtime.
Every time you play a team from within our league, it is a competitive battle, and there is a legitimate chance for an upset. That makes our league the best, and makes all of us coaching and playing in the league stronger.
Who should teams watch out for in the SLC this year?
ASU is going to be great again; wait until you see Ryan Westfall this year. He could play at any man’s level right now; the kid is at the top of his game.
We will be a Top 3 team at Chapman, IF we as a team can adjust from being offense first, to a defensive minded team. That is a big “if” by the way.
USD and Arizona are both going to be very good this year. USD had zero Seniors last year and returns a damn near 40 year-old goalie. Arizona didn’t graduate much, and from what I remember on the recruiting trail, them seemed to get quite a few good players.
Outside of USC and Chapman, it looks like the majority of teams in the SLC only lost a few seniors each last season. Who do you think will take the SLC crown this spring, do you think there will be some new faces in the SLC Championship game?
If Mario Weibel was still at my Alma Mater, UCSB, I really was worried about them this year and thought they were going to be the best team in our league. But now, it won’t happen. Their Interim Head Coach, Lane Jaffe, is truly one of the best coaches I have ever competed against. The dude flat out knows the game, and what is most impressive is the way he gets his kids prepared for each game. But their is too much bad karma up in Isla Vista this year, and it will come back to bite them in the ass. I think the Championships will be the same two teams. Hopefully this year, we can beat Malone in his backyard.
With Connor Martin and Tyler Westfall graduated, who will be the next big name from the SLC?
I apologize for sounding cliche, there is an INCREDIBLE amount of talent in the league this year. I have already mentioned how dominant Ryan Westfall will be this year. Keep an eye on his brother Dylan, he could be the best keeper in the country, and I think is pissed he didn’t get any recognition last year.
Our 4 poles at Chapman could be the best group I have ever seen at the MCLA level. I’m serious about that. But, we have to prove it on the field.
USD has a great attack line of Tim Roe, Danny Breihan, and Bobby Enquist. That should take them pretty far. Finally, UCSB’s first Mid-field line is the best in the league, and they bring in a very good goalie to start this year.
Last year, both ASU and Chapman had a great showing at Nationals, Chapman losing by two to Michigan in the Semi’s and ASU by one in the Championship, what’s your prediction for the SLC this year?
I have to say one thing first before I comment on the SLC teams, I am really worried about CSU. I think that Alex is siting on a special team this year.
Now, with regards to ASU and Chapman, I expect both of us to be in the mix. But, we both have some major adjustments to work out. As I already said, at Chapman, we are trying to become a defensive minded juggernaut; with a team that has never even thought about playing defense in the past and just tried to constantly out score you. ASU has a very talented team, but they are also very young. For both of us, it is going to come down to how quickly the kids on our respective teams can learn our systems.
Can we get a Super Bowl prediction from you?
I hope it is the Bears, I am a lifelong fan. But, Jay Cutler is the worst. Sammy Morris (name drop!) is a family friend, so I am going to have to root for him and go with the Patriots.