Being creative is an important attribute to obtain as an athlete, however, too much structure within a team’s system can sometimes debilitate that creativity. Right now, we’re seeing the Rochester Knighthawks flourish offensively and that’s largely due to the creativity they’re displaying on the floor this season.
“It turns kind of more into muscle memory and just doing what feels right, like opposed to where there’s a set up play,” said Knighthawks forward Ryan Smith when asked how creativity can help a player make instinctive, natural plays. “You just kind of see what’s open and try to take advantage of it. So, a little bit more natural because you’re just going out, you’re feeling what’s right.”
The Knighthawks are currently riding a three-game win streak and remain one of four undefeated teams in the National Lacrosse League. So, you could say that creativity and natural instinct are a big reason as to the offensive numbers we’re seeing from the team right now.
Through three games, Rochester has held its opponents to just 31 goals while leading the league with their 41 goals for.
“It’s a little bit different,” commented Smith when asked why this year’s offense seems to be working much better than last year. “I feel like we’re just a lot more flow offense. We had some plays before, which worked well, but I think with the type of players we have, we thrive off being creative and just kind of doing what we feel is right.”
Aside from the creativity, there are still plenty of other reasons as to the very noticeable uptick in offensive production like the additions of Knighthawks forward Connor Fields or assistant coach Gavin Prout. While Fields is leading the league with 12 goals and 25 points, Prout is the reason that Smith and his unit are thriving on the score sheet.
Connor Fields has 13 assists on the season, so we figured we would make a compilation of some of his best passes so far 🥍 pic.twitter.com/rdpFghxFGs
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) December 29, 2022
“All the new additions have been helping and I think ‘Prouter’ (Prout) has been a big addition as well…just kind of letting us play our game and allowing us to be creative, which is what I think we all kind of thrive off of,” commented Smith.
Smith is, of course, contributing offensively as well, already posting 12 points through the first three games of the year. However, Smith’s second year in the league does look a little different considering the new additions.
The forward admitted that instead of scoring goals, he’s become more of a playmaker for Fields on the floor.
“Obviously, when you have Fields come in who has 12 goals and 25 points in just three games, you’re going to feed the hot hand and he (Fields) deserves the play.”
Smith then continued with, “I feel like I kind of shifted the end of last year. I talked about wanting to be more of a playmaker, so I feel like I’ve definitely been successful in that department so far.”
By the time Smith will get to test out that creativity and playmaking ability again, three weeks will have passed since the Knighthawks last game on Dec. 17 against the Albany FireWolves. However, the Knighthawks forward is confident that the team will still put together a tough battle when back in action on Jan. 7 because they’re simply just a good team.
“I think we’ve seen how successful we’ve been on the floor of this year, and that kind of drives us to not have the type of games we did after the New Year last year,” explained Smith when asked how the team is approaching this type of break after such a hot start to the season. “I think everybody’s in the gym a lot more, having those (Tuesday night) practices are huge for us and having that belief in ourselves that we’re actually a good team and we can get this done. We’re not that 4 and 14 team we were last year with the additions we made in the offseason.”
Smith and the Knighthawks return home following their annual Christmas break on Saturday, Jan. 7 as the Panther City Lacrosse Club makes its inaugural visit to Rochester. The 7 p.m. matchup from Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena will be only meeting of the season between the two teams and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.