The Ohio Machine underwent its first-ever MLL draft on Wednesday and selected a diverse blend of athletes as the foundation for its roster. While some questioned the team’s lack of obvious, big-name picks, the beauty of being part of the Ohio organization is that you don’t need to know how the machine works, just that it works. Here, Coach Garber and Machine President & GM John Algie defend their draft picks and explain the strategy they used during the draft.
Major League Lacrosse: How would you grade your draft selections in the 2012 MLL Expansion Draft?
Ted Garber (Ohio Machine Head Coach): Based on the research John and I did and taking into account the players we drafted, I’d give us an A+.
John Algie (Ohio Machine President and GM): This [draft] is just one piece of the overall picture. I think we should refrain from grading ourselves until after we’ve gone through a full season. That being said, we came out of the draft with nearly every player we targeted.
MLL: Your first selection was former Denver Outlaws attackman Connor Martin. He’s known for his boisterous personality off the field. Tell us what qualities he will bring to the Machine on the field.
TG: We didn’t take Connor Martin just because people like him. I coached him in the 2010 Warrior Major League Challenge against Team USA (a game hosted by MLL prior to the MLL Collegiate Draft) and he was a dominating force on the field. At the time I didn’t know who he was or where Chapman College was but I quickly realized that he’s a great guy and a great team player. I was really shocked that Denver left him unprotected, but that’s to our benefit.
JA: Connor is a great player. He’s dynamic, he’s versatile and he’s dedicated. We think he’s going to bring a lot of scoring punch to our attack unit. He’s also a guy we could move to a midfield position if we needed to. He shined in a pretty limited role in Denver and we think he’s going to flourish given the opportunity to log more minutes in Major League Lacrosse.
MLL: Your second selection was Kevin Ridgway who played in seven games for the Hamilton Nationals last year. What will he add to the Machine’s already robust defense?
TG: Kevin came from Notre Dame and was coached by Gerry Byrne, one of the best defensive coaches in the country. He knows how to play the game and he’s a great guy. You need a solid defense in this league because the offense is so good. You need guys who are going to be quarterbacks on the field and have a solid foundation and I think guys like Kevin are going to turn some heads.
JA: Kevin has a great lacrosse IQ combined with the physical tools that it takes to be successful in this league.
MLL: You drafted Dan Groot and Jim Connolly, which raised some eyebrows since they’re not big-name players in MLL. Give us the scoop on these athletes.
TG: Dan Groot played as a d-middie under a great coach at Maryland. He can get up and down the field and he is a great transition player; he doesn’t really have to come off the field because he has the mental toughness and skill set to stay out there. And Jim Connolly is a proven goal scorer. If anyone was at the 2012 Warrior Major League Challenge against Team USA, they'd say the same thing. He was an outstanding player at UMass and is the all-time leading scorer in lacrosse there. He’s a smart player, a tough player, and he hasn’t really had the opportunity to show what he can do in this league.
JA: Dan is a complete player who can move up and down the field and do all the little things you need him to do, and the big things you need him to do as well. We think Jimmy’s going to be a primetime scoring threat for us at attack. He had a great college career which will translate well to MLL now that he has the opportunity to play.
MLL: Jordan Levine was your 8th round selection and played successfully in nine games for the Rattlers last year. What will he bring to the table?
TG: A lot of experience. He’s a guy that didn’t miss a practice last year with the Rattlers. He’s there every day, he’s dangerous in transition, he can play defense and he’s tough. I was shocked that the Rattlers left him unprotected, but we’re excited to have him.
JA: We see him as a veteran in this league and a dynamic player who is another guy who’ll do what we need him to do.
MLL: As for goalies, you selected Brian Phipps (who was left unprotected by the Bayhawks) in the 9th round. Will he be your primary goalie moving forward or are you hoping to find another goaltender that might complement him?
TG: We acquired Stefan Schroeder in October. He didn’t get a chance to play a lot because [the Rattlers] had Galloway in the net, but I saw what he did when he got his chances. He certainly held his own. If Schroeder and Phipps can coexist I think that will be a real position of strength for us.
JA: Phipps is a goalie that brings some significant MLL experience to the table. Both [he and Schroeder] are great goalies and have the opportunity to be starters and to really contribute to the team. They both bring different things to the table.
MLL: Brett Hughes, who last played an MLL game in 2009, was your 10th round selection. As an Ohio native, did that play a role in your decision to draft him? What dialogue have you had with him so far?
TG: John suggested [Brett] as a potential player and he was on our radar because I coached against him when he played in L.A. He was a beast, so we reached out to him to see what his mindset was. He said he’d love to play and that he still has a lot left in him.
JA: Brett is really fired up to be a part of the team and to really build on his career that actually began in Ohio where he grew up. We’re excited to have him; he’s a great defenseman and a great leader as well.
MLL: What will you be looking for in Wednesday’s Supplemental Draft and January’s Collegiate Draft?
TG: We’ve only got two attackmen so that would be a good place to start. For the Supplemental we’ll have to go back and see who’s left, but there are a lot of guys who didn’t get picked that we had on our radar.
JA: I think we can probably look for more of the same type of players that are versatile and willing to do what it takes to win. We know we’ve got a core group of players that bring a fantastic mix of youth and veteran experience that our fans are going to love to cheer for and see win come 2012.