The Charlotte Hounds, one of two new Major League Lacrosse teams slated to begin play in 2012, know the importance of the upcoming MLL Expansion Draft. White boards with countless scenarios are mounted in what they’ve dubbed their “War Room” and the Hounds say their objectives are two-fold.
“Our long-term goal is to build around youth,” said Hounds President and Managing Partner Jim McPhilliamy. “But if you look at Denver and Chesapeake and Boston, they’ve found success by having guys that live in the market they’re in. So even though youth and talent are considerations, we also want to focus on players who are at least open to the idea that Charlotte might be a home for them sometime in the future.”
Perhaps the biggest recent news to come out of Charlotte is the addition of former University of North Carolina standout,
Billy Bitter, to the team’s roster. In a trade with the Denver Outlaws, the Hounds claimed one of the League’s most talked about rookies of the 2011 season (he was the Outlaws’ 1
st round pick, 3
rd overall), who posted 12 goals, four assists and 18 groundballs in nine games.
“He had a really good year if you look at him statistically,” said McPhilliamy. Stats aside, Bitter’s local ties to the community and desire to grow the sport in the Carolinas fueled the trade, which also brought defenseman
Brett Schmidt over from the Outlaws. Schmidt is a University of Maryland alum and played in seven games last season, recording 14 groundballs in his rookie campaign. In exchange, the Outlaws received the Hounds’ 3rd and 6th round selections in the 2012 MLL Expansion Draft and their 5th round selection in the 2012 MLL Collegiate Draft.
Though Charlotte’s president is new to MLL, he knows that in order to be a viable team in the League, the Hounds need to be stacked with goal scorers. The team noted the importance of building youth in their offense and they’ll look to gain more of that in January.
“Through the Collegiate Draft we’re looking to build a core of young attackmen that will help us score the points we need to in this league.” This could potentially mean the team will be focusing on veteran defensive needs in next week’s draft.
Without divulging their exact plan of attack, Charlotte says they are in good shape for the first half of the draft. It’s the second half that is causing apprehension for the young team.
“We feel confident in the first half, but as the scenarios begin to unwind in later rounds it gets confusing and a lot of things can happen, so I think we still have some preparation to do,” McPhilliamy said.
The rules of the MLL Expansion Draft state that after a team has lost three of its men, it is allowed to pull back a single player from its unprotected list, which will continue until the maximum loss of six players has been reached. Then teams may pull back all of their players. These rules have led to the frenzied preparation in the Hounds’ War Room.
The team has been confiding in its current players and has bounced ideas off of inaugural Charlotte Hounds player,
Ryan Flanagan, who has made North Carolina home.
“We’ve been trying to be inclusive with our guys, especially Ryan and Brett (Schmidt), who have both shown a lot of interest. If you’re a part of the team, you’re a part of the team, and we like everybody to know where our heads are at.”