Sometimes after a loss or two, it helps to take a step back and catch your breath. The Georgia Swarm will get to do just that in their first bye week in the past two months, having played in 10 straight games in eight weeks, including two doubleheaders in the middle of that run.
The men in blue and yellow will do a lot of self-reflecting this week to figure out how they can rebound from back-to-back losses and prepare for the mammoth month of March ahead of them. Swarm assistant coach Dan Ladouceur and assistant captain Jason Noble caught up with GeorgiaSwarm.com for a two-part interview on the team’s recent struggles, the offense and defense, and what to focus on the bye week:
The Swarm finally have a break. What’s the feeling around the locker room right now?
Ladouceur: I gather disappointed in our production the last couple of games. Guys are disappointed with how we’ve performed in general over the season. We had a good start. We got some wins early on, but I don’t think anybody believes that we’re playing to our potential right now. So, a little disappointing, some frustration, so the break kind of comes at a good time for us to step back and have a look back at how we’re doing, how we’re conducting business, and where we can make improvements.
Noble: I think the biggest thing for our team is just to regroup and come back healthy. We’ve had a couple guys banged up. It’s been a long stretch doing the 10 games in I think it was eight or nine weeks. I think the biggest thing is enjoy the weekend off, take care of your body and take care of yourself, and then come back ready to work and enthusiastic to be with the group. I think sometimes having a week off from seeing each other is beneficial. That way you can focus on yourself a bit more, and then you come back excited to see the group again.
Part of that recent performance has to be playing 10 games in eight weeks. How hard is that stretch of schedule?
Noble: It’s definitely a grind, grind on the bodies, especially having some of those weekends be doubleheader weekends where it’s back-to-back and then short weeks in between, but that’s part of the NLL. Every team’s sort of a bit different on how their schedule’s lined up. Some are a bit heavier in the front; some are a bit heavier in the back. Either way, you need to be prepared for that.
Ladouceur: That was difficult. There’s no two ways about it, and to be honest, we’re lucky we came out the way we did as far as injuries and health-wise, relatively unscathed as far as that goes, but that’s a grind for the guys that are working full-time and doing the travel and playing that amount of games in that short period of time. No one in the room’s making excuses, either. Some of the things that we’re not doing well are controllable, and we haven’t done that. Again, that’s part of the disappointment and frustration.
Noble: It’s been a challenge, but it’s good that there’s been no major injuries, that we’re all together still, and just making sure our bodies are healthy going into the final third of the season is most important, especially with playoffs right after that. There’re no other breaks. I think we have one or two other bye weekends, but I believe we have a four-game stretch of all Eastern teams right now that’s going to be very crucial to see how we sit after those four.
How important is it monitoring the health and recovery of the team in that run? Anything special you’ve been doing over the past few weeks?
Ladouceur: Yeah, you start to manage your practice time and the intensity and the duration of the shootarounds and that kind of stuff. Does that have an effect on game performance and that kind of stuff? I don’t know, but it’s definitely not a routine that we want or that we would look for. You do have to make adjustments based on the intensity of that section of the schedule. Definitely not ideal, but again, not making excuses about it, just an adjustment we didn’t want to have to make, but we had to.
Noble: I think just making sure, even during practices, during stretches before the games, after games, we’re always stretching. One of the things Coach Eddie always talks about as non-negotiable is stretching and hydrating, making sure we’re staying hydrated, stretching properly, just small details that we can control to hopefully prevent any injuries.
Offense has been a bit of a roller coaster this season. What’s been the short story of the offense this season?
Noble: Obviously, our offense is high-stacked, high-powered. Some games, they haven’t been quite getting – sometimes the ball hasn’t bouncing our way. But I think the biggest thing when you see us being successful, the ball’s swinging well, the ball’s moving in and out of each other’s sticks, and they’re playing as five guys all on the floor. And we’re successful on both ends of the floor when that happens, when all of the guys are on the same page. But our offense, if we give them the ball defensively, they can go off for 15, 16 goals. So I think that’s our goal, is just to make sure defensively we get the ball to them and sort of give them as many opportunities per game, because the more the ball’s in their sticks, the more successful they’re going to be.
Ladouceur: I think if you’re looking for one word, I would call it “inconsistency,” and that is on multiple levels. Inconsistency in our effort, inconsistency in our execution, right down to dropping balls and allowing turnovers, getting stripped. Guys that are normally really talented with carrying the ball are getting stripped or victims of turnovers.
Our shooting hasn’t been great. Our on-net percentage for the first part of the season wasn’t very good. It was something we concentrated on, and even though we maybe improved our on-net percentage, we didn’t really improve our scoring percentage, which leads me to believe that our shooting accuracy isn’t where it should be, whether that’s guys not having a chance to get their stick in their hands away from the game or whatever it is. Just inconsistency everywhere within the offense.
Haven’t really hit that stride. We saw parts of it against Rochester. We see parts of it during games, but we don’t see it for sixty minutes like we’ve enjoyed in the past. That’s one of the struggles and one of the things that we’re really working on in this little break here, to identify why that’s happening and what we can do to get it back.
On the positive side, has there been a player you’re really enjoying watching out on the offense?
Ladouceur: Yeah, like this year watching Zed Williams play has been a real breath of fresh air. Last year was tough. We asked him to play defense. We put him in on offense. It wasn’t really fair the situations that we put him in, and this year, with him being able to come into camp and know that he was going out the O door consistently and being able to feel out the other O guys and what they want to do and how he can help them and be productive on the O side, I think it’s been good. He’s such a big, physical presence. He sets amazing picks, he seals, he gathers a lot of loose balls. About the only thing I wish is he would shoot a little bit more than he does. He’s really out there working for everyone else, and I think through that, he has opportunities that I would like him to take advantage of a little bit more.
Check out the second part of Ladouceur’s and Noble’s midseason interviews here!
The Swarm return to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, March 2 to take on the Rochester Knighthawks. Faceoff is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. The Swarm are hosting Heroes Night presented by Axiom Corporation. Celebrate local military and first responders during the Swarm’s East Division matchup. Early arriving fans can receive a Swarm Koozie courtesy of Axiom Corporation.
Call 844-4-GASWARM or visit GeorgiaSwarm.com/HeroesNight for tickets.
Interested in helping support our heroes and their families? Participate in our Seats for Heroes program, offering four different packages which provide heroes and their families the opportunity to attend Heroes Night! Visit GeorgiaSwarm.com/SeatsForHeroes or call 844-4-GASWARM for more information.