Season Preview Series – Charlotte Hounds

Welcome to the second installment of our Season Preview Series for each of the nine Major League Lacrosse teams. Today, we take a look at the team I have somewhat adopted of as a result of living in the same city – the Charlotte Hounds.

Last Season:

The 2017 campaign was a rough go for Charlotte as the Hounds found themselves as a bottom-feeding team. They finished with a record of 6-8 which was good for second-worst in the league.

Midway through the season, Charlotte added Tewaaraton Award winner, and National Champion, Matt Rambo to their attack unit. However, that was not enough to propel the team to an above .500 record.

Charlotte’s biggest win came against eventual-champion Ohio, but other than that the season was a disappointment.

Key Additions:

The biggest offseason move for the Hounds came via trade with New York. Charlotte sent Brendan Fowler, M, to the Lizards in exchange for Jake Richard, SSDM, and a 2nd round draft pick in 2018. Richard was one of Marquette’s better players his senior year as the team made their run to claim the Big East crown.

As Charlotte’s Vice President, Wade Leaphart, states, this addition brings, “toughness and depth in a key area the team chose to address this offseason.” If they wanted toughness, it’s toughness they got. I’d also add they’re getting a true competitor as well.

I watched Richard and his Golden Eagles his senior year play against Duke on a rainy night in Durham. Unfortunately, this wasn’t much of a contest as Duke ended up winning 16-1. However, there was one Marquette player that stood out to me as continuing to play his ass off even with his team on the receiving end of a brutal thrashing. This player was Jake Richard.

At one point, while defending a Duke middie late in the game, Richard threw a check so hard he ended up breaking his stick in half (check was completely clean). This guy competes, so it will be interesting to see how he fits in with Charlotte.

Key Departures:

I just mentioned his name in the trade above, but anytime you lose a player like Brendan Fowler, it’s big. However, it’s even bigger this year with Trevor Baptiste set to enter to the league in a few months.

I noted it in my preview of the Machine, but the FOGO position has become so much more important now that someone as dominant as Baptiste is on the way in. Fowler was legit at the face-off X last season, and really only struggled in the final game of the season against Greg “The Beast” Gurenlian. Sidenote: that was also Gurenlian’s last game of his career, so he probably had extra motivation to end on a good note.

What makes Fowler different is that he doesn’t just dish the ball to the nearest open attackman – he’s looking to score. See here:

We all (hopefully) watched how dominant he was when he played against Syracuse in the National Championship a few years back. That’s what he’s capable of, and what Charlotte just traded away.

We’ll have to wait and see what they do to address that newly-formed hole in the lineup.

Player To Watch:

rambo-6.jpg

Talked about him already, but this will be his first full season with the team so it seems like a no-brainer to put Matt Rambo here. I don’t think I need to get too much into it, but this dude can ball. Look up his senior year highlights on YouTube if you’re ever in the mood to feel sorry for defensemen and/or goalies.

He thrived at Maryland with Colin Heacock as his wingman, and now he has Ryan Brown and Joey Sankey. Not exactly a drop-off in talent there. As a result of this, I think we see a BIG summer out of Rambo. In a shortened season (5 games) the former Terp put up 9 goals and 4 assists. I’ll go out on a limb and say he triples those totals this season.

Uniform Grade:

This season, the Hounds will be wearing………………….

Image result for charlotte hounds uniforms

……….the exact same uniforms they always have 😦

These are just okay for me. Kind of an odd color scheme, but they’re not the worst uniform I’ve ever seen. I think it goes without saying, but this team is in need of a uniform upgrade STAT.

Good on them for getting rid of those gold helmets, though.

Final Grade: C+

Prediction:

5-9, miss the playoffs.

To be honest, I think the loss of their starting FOGO really hurts the Hounds. Top talent at that position is tough to come by, and if you don’t have someone that can win you the ball, well, it’s going to be tough to score, Cotton.

I also think their defense is suspect. No matter how lethal their attack unit is, I don’t see that making up for the weakness on the defensive end of the field. It’s unfortunate, too, because I’d love to go watch some winning lacrosse here in the Queen City, but I just don’t see it happening.

 

Two down, seven to go. If you guys would like to see me highlight certain parts of each team that I am not currently doing, drop me a comment. Otherwise, we’ll catch you next time for team number three!

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