Player Spotlight

Player Spotlight highlights the finer details and elements while supplying insight to the fans on what a player's thought process may be pertaining to a certain play, game or situation. It brings the intensity, passion, and inner most thoughts of the individual player that otherwise may not be felt or heard.

In the Player Spotlight this week is John Tavares. John is interviewed by Tom Borrelli who fell in love with lacrosse while writing for his school campus paper "The Record" as a student at Buffalo State College in 1977.

He has seen and covered over 1000 games at all levels which includes the Buffalo Bandits for the Buffalo News since their inception in 1991, NCAA Tournament games, Final Four Championships, upstate New York schools games, the Canadian Mann Cup Championship, the OLA Major Box Lacrosse Series, the Buffalo Gamblers of the OLA Major Series and high school events.

Tom presently writes for the Buffalo News and does extensive feature writing for Lacrosse Magazine and Inside Lacrosse. Between pro box, college and high school field and OLA box lacrosse Tom attends about 50 to 60 games a year (and Dick Vitale thinks he has it made with hoops!) The PLPA is happy to have Tom on board as a contributing writer for the Player Spotlight.

PLPA correspondent Tom Borrelli caught up with Buffalo Bandits forward John Tavares following his team's 22-15 loss to the Baltimore Thunder Saturday night. Tavares, the leading scorer in Bandits franchise history, had five goals and five assists, bringing his career regular-season totals to 410 points in his eight seasons in the MILL/NLL.

Question What were your thoughts on Saturday night's game?
Answer We got behind the 8-ball from the start and had to try to play catch-up all night long. They have a good athletic team that capitalized on their opportunities tonight and took it to us. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Question What do you think was the turning point in the game?
Answer Right from the start when they got up by three or four goals on us. We couldn't make up the difference. Every time we came close they would come back with a goal.

Question What are the prospects for the Bandits in 1999?
Answer I'm optimistic because we have a lot of new talent on this team. We just have to play smarter lacrosse.

Question What are your personal objectives for the 1999 season?
Answer My personal goal, my one goal, is a team goal. And that's to win another championship. It's been a couple years since we brought a championship to Buffalo and I think it's time we bring it back.

Question How many total games do you play a year including the NLL, summer box lacrosse and field lacrosse?
Answer After make a quick calculation, about 45 or 50, depending upon how far each team gets in the playoffs.

Question What are the major differences between indoor and outdoor lacrosse concerning how the players adapt?
Answer It's two different games, I don't think you can compare them. The strategy is different, there are different rules. There's a different atmosphere on the field than there is on the floor. There's more cross checking in box lacrosse, more one-on-one, more sliding defense. There's a different approach to the entire game.

Question If you could introduce one rule to improve the game, what would it be?
Answer I would like to see the game sped up a little bit more. I think the referees take too much time when it comes to possession. The referees shouldn't wait and let the other teams get ready. If the other team is ready, give them the ball and let them go. If my team is ready after an interference call, give us the ball and let us go. That would speed up the game.

Question What changes have you seen in the caliber of MILL/NLL play from your rookie season of 1992 to now?
Answer All the field lacrosse players have adapted really well. They've always had the athleticism but now they're learning how to play. The league has really improved as a whole.

Question What tip could you offer the fans on what to watch for during a game?
Answer They should watch more of the loose ball situations, how a guy picks up a loose ball and starts the play. Watch the set-up guys, the guys who do all the dirty work in the corners and don't get much recognition.

Question What are your plans for summer league play in 1999?
Answer I'll be back in Akwesasne, I think. Hopefully we'll have a better season (the Thunder didn't qualify for the OLA Majors playoffs in 1998). I'm looking forward to going back.

Be sure to check out next week's Player Spotlight that will involve Toronto Rock's home opener against the Buffalo Bandits. PLPA correspondents Ron MacSpadyen and Bruce Huff will have Troy Cordingley and Jim Veltman in the "Spotlight." Don't Miss It!