On the same page: Seniors Desko, Palasek provide Syracuse with experience on an explosive offense

first_img Comments Published on February 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Tim Desko watched on the sideline as his dream season deteriorated before his eyes. He had already surpassed his previous scoring totals for his first two seasons and was determined to get more. But after suffering a knee injury during Syracuse’s April 3 contest against Duke, countless attempts to get back on the field were thwarted by additional concerns to his health. ‘It really hurt because guys that were seniors last year were the guys I came in with, and to not be able to finish off the season with them was really disappointing,’ Desko said. ‘It hurt watching every game and as I thought I was coming back each and every game, it wasn’t working out.’ In stepped Tommy Palasek, a transfer from Johns Hopkins, to try and fill the hole left by one of Syracuse’s premier scoring threats. Palasek fit in seamlessly and the SU offense didn’t skip a beat. The transfer scored a point in nine consecutive games, starting with the Duke contest and ending with a five-point contest in the Orange’s 10-4 victory over Siena in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Now, after Desko’s long and difficult road back to the playing field, the duo will pair up to provide the Orange with a dynamic scoring punch this season. And with a level of uncertainty surrounding each position on the field entering this season, the only question for the experienced unit up front may be how the two senior attacks mesh with limited time together on the field last season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘I’m excited to play with Tommy, really excited, especially with Derek (Maltz),’ Desko said. ‘It’s going to be a special year, and it’s my senior year personally, so I’m going to leave it all out there.’ *** John Desko’s confidence in the attack unit may not have been what it is today if Palasek had not made a good impression when he joined the Orange last January. With Stephen Keogh, JoJo Marasco and Desko having already played considerable time at SU, the Syracuse head coach knew he had one of the strongest attack lines in the nation. And where Palasek fit into that lineup had yet to be seen. Palasek missed fall practice and didn’t arrive at Syracuse until a few weeks before its joint scrimmage with Le Moyne and Hofstra. And John Desko knew Palasek needed to learn the intricacies of the Syracuse offensive scheme if he had any chance of stepping on the field. ‘I thought Tom, maybe last year with coming in, in January, might have been a good redshirt year for him to learn the offense only being here literally weeks before the season started,’ John Desko said, ‘so to give him the spring to learn it all, then have two years, may have been a good move. ‘But with the injury it was good to have Tom out there, and he got a lot of great experience.’ Desko said he was surprised at how quick Palasek was able to pick up the offensive sets because it was a process that took his whole redshirt season to understand. But Palasek was confident in his abilities and impressed the coaches with his work ethic and field vision. Redshirting was never an option. ‘I worked hard every day at practice, and I think that showing it in practice helped me get on the field,’ Palasek said. ‘Coach would not have decided to put me on the field unless he saw it in practice, so I think the first couple of weeks was my defining moment.’ Desko’s injury against Duke proved to be Palasek’s ultimate defining moment. He cracked the starting lineup and gathered steam as the season wore on, giving John Desko all the confidence in what his attack could provide this season. *** Desko was willing to do whatever it took to breakthrough physically and get back in the Syracuse lineup after he sustained a right knee injury against Duke. He attempted to play the team’s next time out against Princeton, but he simply couldn’t do it. He spent numerous hours in the training room each day and did everything the staff said to get back in action from that point on. That moment finally came in the NCAA quarterfinal game against Maryland, but he clearly wasn’t at full strength and contributed little offensively, failing to even register a single shot attempt. Now, with a long offseason to recover, Desko said he feels back to where he was before the injury. This season will be his opportunity to pick up where he left off. ‘I started in the summer, rehabbing, going from no muscle in my leg to building it all back and just trying to stay in the weight room as much as I can to get strong and prevent injuries,’ Desko said. ‘My mobility is back. Everything is pretty much the same, so I’m ready to get out, and I’m more excited for this year.’ With Keogh, SU’s leading scorer from last season, gone, it’ll be up to both Palasek and Desko to form a cohesive offensive unit. They enter the season as the lone players to log starting minutes at the attack position, aside from Marasco, who will be playing predominantly midfield this season. The sophomore Maltz will join them in the starting lineup. Senior attack Collin Donahue said the amount of time the offense has already spent together on the practice field has already worked to the team’s advantage. After moments in which players were missing last season, there’s a new sense of continuity this season. ‘The more times that we’ve been in practice together, the more times that we look for each other, I think a certain confidence develops,’ Donahue said. ‘When you’re around those players so often you know where they’re going to go, you know what their abilities are.’ Desko and Palasek are motivated for different reasons entering their final seasons. Palasek is working toward winning his first national championship after transferring from Johns Hopkins. Desko is looking to rebound after his stellar junior campaign was cut short. But they’ll need to come together to achieve their goal of leading the Orange to a national championship. ‘Now that it’s our turn to be those leaders and the guys on the field, it would mean a lot for us, as seniors, to win a championship and go out on top,’ Palasek said. ‘As great as the seniors were last year, I’m sure they would tell you they’d rather go out on top than anything else.’ adtredin@syr.edu last_img

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