IL Indoor counting down the best players in the National Lacrosse League
With the 2015 National Lacrosse League season now just a couple months away, it’s time for IL Indoor’s annual countdown of the Top 50 players in the NLL. The first installment highlights players ranked #41-50 among the best lacrosse pros on the planet.
IL Indoor staffers Bob Chavez, Stephen Stamp and Marty O’Neill collaborated with their own Top 50 lists and a points system produced the final list that will be unfolding as the season nears. Be sure to check back to follow the countdown to No. 1.
“We’re caught in that lull of the lacrosse world, where the summer ball is done and the winter season is not quite yet here,” IL Indoor writes. “So what better way to get the juices flowing than with a nice and solid debate? That’s not the intent of our annual Top 50 list, but it certainly does produce conversation.”
“I loved watching Digby and the way he played. His physical presence was obvious, but his soft hands and smooth style wasn’t what you’d expect to see from a guy his size. More than that, he had composure and to me, that was the most impressive aspect of his game. He’s a natural athlete and the Stealth have to be thrilled that they were able to find such a promise where they did.” – Bob Chavez
“Watching the transition of Buffalo’s defense in 2014, one thing stood out to me more than any other, Derek Suddons. Here is a guy late in his career running around like and pressuring people like a spring chicken. Having a man that size in your grill the second you get over center is not pleasant but is what many experienced when playing the Bandits last season. Suddons has had two of, if not his two best seasons, the last couple of years in Edmonton and Buffalo. Running the floor and punishing people is his job and he is doing it with flare.” – Marty O’Neill
“Schuss had two seasons in 2014. This first half season where he really had to experience the league and his heavy responsibility in it and the second half where he embraced those things and excelled to be a top goal scorer in the NLL. Schuss is a deadly shooter and can pull the trigger in multiple situations, which makes him dangerous anytime. The job is to support him in 2015 so that other teams can’t overplay the rookie of the year and his shooting prowess.” – Marty O’Neill
“Church did a great job in his rookie season of playing the role he was assigned. It’s tough for young players coming into the NLL who have generally been the star player on their team the whole way up the system to take a lesser role, but Church had no trouble being a complementary player in Edmonton’s deep offence. He can score when he has opportunities but doesn’t need the ball to be effective.” – Stephen Stamp
“Scott Self is the consummate professional. He leads by example with fundamental work on the back end and his effectiveness can’t be denied. And his ability to transfer that ethic to teammates around him is an asset that can’t be coached. It’s something you’re born with, and Self really is one of those players who makes those around him better.” – Bob Chavez
“Sanderson continues to play the game he always has: with intelligence and outstanding floor vision. As John Tavares has said about continuing to perform late into your career, it helps when your game was never built around being the biggest, strongest or fastest. Sanderson just keeps making good passes to create opportunities for his teammates and scores enough to force opponents to respect his shot.” – Stephen Stamp
“Walters has always been among the quickest and most athletic, but his dedication to improvement over the last few years has honed his natural skills for the box game. He’s been justly rewarded for all that work and he’s been a big part of Rochester’s run of 3 straight titles with relentless hustle, aggressive work in the dirty areas and smart work with the ball.” – Bob Chavez
“You won’t find a lot of stay at home defenders on a list like this, but Smith earns his spot with his grittiness and positional play. He’s an interesting case because he may have been overrated as a defender when he was fighting more, but now that he doesn’t fight as much he’s underrated for his defensive play. Will gladly step into shooting lanes and he makes opponents pay a price for venturing into the middle of the zone.” – Stephen Stamp
“Tavares clearly isn’t the player he used to be, but at 46 he’s still an effective contributor and retains the knack for scoring goals at critical times. His leadership comes more from what he does than what he says; if there’s an optional shootaround Tavares is the best bet on the team to be there. He works hard and has fun playing the game. He’s still an inspiration and a role model for other players.” – Stephen Stamp
“If the NLL were played on grass, Zack Greer is the guy you’d see after games with grass and dirt stains all over his uniform. He’s a real treat to watch because he’s such a diverse threat. He’s not afraid to get involved with a crowd but then on his next shift, he’ll launch a howitzer of an outside shot for a goal. He brings so much but rarely gets the attention he deserves.” – Bob Chavez
Click the link for each Top 50 player to see their full analysis on IL Indoor. The 2015 NLL regular season, the 29th year of pro indoor lacrosse featuring the world’s best players, opens on Friday, Jan. 2.