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This season, the St. John’s men’s lacrosse team is off to a 3-0 start – its best since 1983.

On Saturday, the St. John’s men’s lacrosse team scored its biggest win in the program’s history. They beat ECAC foe and then-No. 5 Georgetown in thrilling, 10 -9 fashion at home on Da Silva Field.

On Monday morning they were rewarded by the college lacrosse world with a No. 19 national ranking from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association.

The Storm may be at the top of the college lacrosse now, but it was just last season that the Red Storm could have easily been the 19th worst team in the nation.

It was just last season that the Red Storm started not 3-0, but 0-9. It was just last season that the Red Storm lost to then- No. 11 Georgetown by six goals. And it was just last season that the Red Storm won just two games in the ECAC (and just two games in total).

That all makes what the Red Storm have done so far this season all the more impressive.

We get accustomed to seeing turnarounds in sports all the time. We blink our eyes and all of a sudden the Tampa Bay Rays or Colorado Rockies are playing in the World Series. Or, we stop to smell the flowers and the Boston Celtics go from losing 58 games in 2006-07 to winning 66 and an NBA Finals crown in 2007-08.

But what we don’t realize is that we don’t see turnarounds in college athletics even half as often as we do in professional sports. Colleges simply can’t entice Kevin Garnett with $24 million to come to play for their program. They instead must recruit talent with a clever combination of reputation advertising and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately marketing. Ask any college coach; that is a much harder thing to do than to reach in someone else’s pockets.

But the Red Storm men’s lacrosse team has gone from 11-game losers to nationally-relevant, undefeated team in just one season.

I don’t know how head coach Jason Miller pulled that off, but I sure wish he’d fill Norm Roberts in.

Norm and the men’s basketball team have been in a transition period since the coach got here in 2004, now almost five seasons ago. It’s pointless to mention that the team has experienced its share of ups-and-downs (more downs than ups) since then. Everybody has heard that a hundred times from me alone.

And though, like Miller just accomplished, Roberts has secured a couple of huge upsets in his time here, what he’s failed to do is what Miller accomplished in just his 3rd season with the Storm: bring his team into the discussion of the relevant teams in the country.

Of course, lacrosse and basketball are different sports. The ball is smaller in lacrosse and the net is much bigger. And I’m sure that what it takes to build a successful team differs substantially as well, but I am just so impressed by what Miller was able to accomplish over the weekend that it gets me thinking about everyone’s favorite basketball coach all over again.

The most recent things I’ve heard in defense of the hoops headman is that the Storm’s on the court failures are not his fault. If Justin Burrell fails to make a gimme layup, there is nothing that Norm can do about that from the sidelines.
Of course that’s true, but it’s also not the issue. What’s in order is not a discussion of whose fault these struggles have been, but instead whose responsibility they are. And the answer to that is very clearly Norm Roberts.

Miller has already taken care of his responsibilities.

“We’ve felt for a while (even at 2-11 last year) that we were close to being competitive on the national scene,” he said after the Georgetown win. “That was the goal when the University re-instated lacrosse. A win over a program the caliber of a Georgetown certainly validates those feelings.”

When Norm took the job over in 2004, his goals were similar. It would be nice if he validated his feelings sometime soon.