Myers, Shay Influence Evident as Stimmel Takes Reins at Marquette

PHOTO COURTESY OF MARQUETTE


Andrew Stimmel played for Joe Breschi and Nick Myers at Ohio State, is Myers’ defensive coordinator on the United States under-19 national team and coached under Andy Shay at Yale for five of the last six years.

It should come as no surprise that Stimmel can’t help but channel some of his bosses on the field now that he has a Division I program of his own.

Stimmel took over at Marquette this summer after Joe Amplo, the program’s first coach, left for Navy. And much like a twenty- or thirty-something who suddenly catches himself sounding like his parents, Stimmel gladly admits he’s an occasional echo.

“Coach Myers, any time something good is happening or something he likes, he loves to say ‘Sure,’” Stimmel said. “Just ‘sure, sure’ when someone gets a tough ground ball or gets to the front of the net and scores and plays good defense. It’s something I say all the time. At practice, guys were laughing at me because I said it two or three times in a row.”

Marquette’s second act starts with ties to its first. Amplo went 52-53 with two NCAA tournament trips over seven seasons, commendable work for a start-up program that dove into the Big East in only its second full season. Stimmel was an assistant on the 2016 team that won a school-record 11 games and earned the No. 6 seed in the postseason.

The experience from that one year in Milwaukee will serve Stimmel well in his return. So will his time at Yale, which won the national title in 2018 and followed it up with a runner-up finish last spring.

All that time with Shay, who methodically built the Bulldogs into a regular Ivy League contender, then a rugged threat guaranteed to make life miserable for a blue blood or two in May and finally into an imposing blue-collar program capable of hoisting a championship trophy, has left Stimmel with plenty of wisdom to apply in his new gig.

“I’m encouraging [Shay] to not only write a book, but if he could just have almost like a side-pocket small book for his phrases that are awesome to go with lacrosse,” Stimmel said. “They’re innumerable. He’s got a new one every single day. My favorite one, because I’m a Pittsburgh guy, is if someone doesn’t know what’s going on out on the field — which is OK at this time of the year — he’ll always say, ‘He doesn’t know if it’s Pittsburgh or Tuesday.’ It takes you a while to process that.”

Marquette’s hope is it doesn’t take long to process Stimmel’s priorities. In a sense, it would be understandable of the Eagles needed a little time. After all, last year’s senior class (which featured the likes of attackman John Wagner, midfielder Tanner Thomson and long pole Noah Richard) accounted for 47.86 percent of the team’s starts and 58.05 percent of its points.

The latter number was the second largest in Division I, but Stimmel insists there is still plenty of experience in place — and an eagerness from upperclassmen who have earned sporadic playing time.

“There’s an excitement from our team and our staff to see who’s going to step up,” Stimmel said. “There’s been some guys that are maybe a little bit older who haven’t had as good of a chance because some of the aforementioned players have been playing their entire careers here. That’s the excitement level for us, because this is your opportunity to come out and be a leader whether you played or not and come out and get a fresh opportunity.”

They’ll get that chance as the Eagles adopt a different playing style. Stimmel is emphasizing an “80-plus” approach that values both quick possessions (transition goals or turnovers in the midfield, for example) and playing out the shot clock and sometimes more, should someone collect a carom off a save or the pipe to earn a reset.

That end-to-end mentality includes a desire to ride as much as possible, as well as encouraging two-way play from defense to offense and simply finishing possessions well.

There is plenty for Marquette to work on after finishing in the middle of the pack in most of the statistical categories tracked by the NCAA. (Man-down defense, which ranked fifth nationally, was a notable strength).

Yet Stimmel knows the process of implementing long-term plans carries greater weight than one specific skills et. In fact, even if he doesn’t want to put words in a mentor’s mouth, he’s well aware of what Shay might say in the same situation.

“I guarantee he’s talking through the same things with a team that went to the national championship last year,” Stimmel said. “If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t skip steps. We have to be good at the baseline things to get to where we want to get to.”







FALL BALL FOCUS
Marquette

1. Connor McClelland is a name to keep an eye on in the spring. The senior midfielder started much of last season and finished with 12 goals and seven assists, and had 14 goals as a full-time starter in 2017.

On and off the field, he has a chance to be a difference-maker for Marquette.

“He’s played a little bit more of a two-way role, some defense, some offense,” Stimmel said. “From a leadership perspective, he’s been incredible. Jumped in this thing with two feet in and has taken ownership of a lot. Everything we’ve given him, he’s done a great job with.”

2. Skill development is a priority, but there’s bigger issues for a new staff. Since Marquette is likely to open things up a bit more than the last few years, there is an adjustment in approach the staff wanted to see take root in the fall.

“More important is developing the mentality we want,” Stimmel said. “It’s going to be a different style, playing a little faster and playing more full-field is going to be a little bit of a change. Playing guys on both sides of the ball is going to be a change.  That mentality is something that’s going to take a little bit of a time.”

3. Ohio State is off the regular season schedule next season but could return in 2021. Stimmel is committed to maintaining series with other programs in the Midwest. The Eagles will face Notre Dame and Michigan, as well as Cleveland State, Detroit and Bellarmine in games with a regional flavor.

It is the first season Ohio State isn’t on the schedule, but the teams will scrimmage in January. Stimmel is hopeful the Buckeyes can rejoin the schedule in 2021.

“All those things are opportunities for us to find out where we’re at out of conference guys us some opportunity to compete with the best teams in the country,” Stimmel said. “Duke’s in there as well. It’s final four and national championship-caliber programs.”

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