THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2012
Hannon turning up heat down the stretch
Rachel Hannon (12) is the school's all time leader in all draw control categories. Play Video
Rachel Hannon (12) is the school's all time leader in all draw control categories.
Rachel Hannon knows the draw control and knows it well. So well, in fact, she can walk you through the last several seconds of each draw right down to when the whistle blows to start the action.

Her process starts with about seven to 10 seconds until the draw as she’s walking to and settling in the draw area to do one-on-one work against the opposing draw specialist.

“When walking to the draw I think ‘where did the last one go, what did I do and what did she do?’’’ Hannon, from Annapolis, Md., said.

As the seconds tick away, she will move teammates around, either verbally or with a hand signal or nod of the head based on where she thinks the ball is headed if she can’t get it.

A near last-second adjustment to teammates, if needed, and then … the crescendo.

“That last second,’’ she said. “I take a deep breath and build up this want to be like ‘I’m going to get this ball, I’m going to get this ball’ and if not I will box out and my team is going to get this ball. I’m going to do whatever I can so we get possession of it.’’

It’s that want of the ball, Hannon said, that makes all the difference, along with the teamwork resulting from the set up positions.

“Without that, if you have technique or not, it doesn’t matter. If you can’t get the ball after you push it up in the air then what’s the point?’’

The draw is key to getting the high-powered offense under way.

“Since we have system that is full of running, it’s very important because we fast break it a lot straight off the draw,’’ Hannon, also one of the team’s top defensive players, said. “I’ll push it to Sass (Chelsea Watts) and she’ll pass it to (Morgan) Derner and Derner will score and it happens quickly. Possession is extremely important especially after a goal for us it helps us get our momentum back if we’re not scoring and if we are scoring it helps us build more momentum.’’

While she holds the school records for game (10), single season (57 this season and counting) and career marks (more than 120) for draw controls, interestingly, she has turned her game up a notch the last four games or so for the 8-3 Dolphins.

In those games, Hannon and nabbed nearly half of her season total 15 ground balls, nearly half of her 57 draw control wins and more than half of her caused 15 turnovers on the defensive end.

The reason, she says, is that she’s pushing herself to improve. The reason, says her position coach Paul McCord, is increased attention to detail and preparation.

“Over the last four games, from what I’ve seen, on the draw she’s been spending a lot more time on mental preparation like studying film more,’’ McCord said. “She’s taken a lot of video home with her to diagnose the opponent and she’s done probably the best job of anyone on the team of scouting and preparing for the games.’’

Not some film, but plenty of it.

“I watch a lot of film,’’ Hannon said. “At the beginning of the season we did a little draw film and now that we’ve seen it has been helping me we’re doing a lot more. Defensively, I’ll watch the film from the previous game in prep for the next game. Draw control game I watch what the other team does and he will chart what I do versus the other team and I’ll figure out what I need to do to win.’’ “I’ve been trying to push myself to do better than I did last season and do anything I can to help our defensive squad become a better team defense and protect our attack when the attack is doing poorly like they do for us,’’ she said.

In between watching the film, increasing her stats and being a team captain, Hannon also is studying nursing with a psychology minor.

“I make time for it,’’ she said of the ultra-busy schedule. “ I’ll schedule out my day with this is what I need to get done first and after I get done with all that I spend my extra time doing the other things. Obviously, school comes first, but I work as hard as I can to get the papers and study done and in my free time, like when I’m getting ready for bed, I’ll watch the film.’’

Her efforts aren’t lost on McCord.

“If everybody did what she does on our team ,we would probably be 4-0 over those last four games JU is 2-2) because she prepares better than everyone and, she does it while she does nursing,’’ he said. “She puts in so many hours. She’s a great leader and you hope the rest of the team, with as many freshmen and sophomores as we have on the team, you hope they take the game as seriously as Rachel Hannon does.’’

- Jim Nasella