Colorado Mammoth 2013 NLL Preview: What's Next for John Grant Jr. and Company?
The Colorado Mammoth had a very good 2012 season, led by John Grant Jr.'s record-setting performance.
The Mammoth got off to a tremendous start, winning their first six before finally coming down to Earth by getting blown out 21-10 by the Calgary Roughnecks in their seventh game.
Although they went a less impressive 5-4 the rest of the way, they still finished with the second best record in the NLL West (11-5) and led the league in scoring with 205 goals.
Unfortunately, a loss to the Minnesota Swarm in the first round of the playoffs abruptly halted their run at the Champion's Cup, but the season has to be viewed as a success, overall.
Grant's 116 points broke the NLL single-season scoring record previously held by the Buffalo Bandit's John Tavares. Just as impressively, the 2012 MVP did it in 14 games, after missing two mid-season due to injury.
How good was Grant's season? He averaged an incredible 8.3 points per game, was the lone 50-goal scorer in the league, was third in assists (66) and picked up his 500th career goal and 1,000 career point.
To say he put Colorado on his back and carried them throughout the season would not be an exaggeration.
He did have plenty of help on the offensive end, though.
Team captain Gavin Prout wound up fifth in league scoring with 83 points and Adam Jones racked up 76, good for 10th in the league and Rookie of the Year honors.
Sean Pollock (61 points) and Jamie Lincoln (46 points) provided solid secondary scoring options.
New to the offense for 2013 is Colton Clark, who was Colorado's first round pick in this year's entry draft. At 6'3", Clark brings good size along with good hands—he has been a top performer in the Western Lacrosse Association as well as at Bellarmine University.
Transition is commanded by Ilija Gajic, who led the Mammoth in loose balls in 2012 with 124 while chipping in 16 points.
Gajic also took the majority of the team's faceoffs, winning 50.2 percent of the time, a very solid performance in a division that includes the Snider brothers, arguably the two best drawmen in NLL history.
Matt MacLeod (23 points, 66 loose balls) and Cameron Holding (51 loose balls) add to a solid transition unit. Rookie Jaeden Gastaldo will look to pick up minutes in transition as well.
The defensive squad remains largely unchanged, too.
Rory Smith led the Mammoth in forced turnovers, with 22 with Creighton Reid (53 loose balls) and Dan Coates (94 loose balls) rounding things out.
On the 2012 season, Colorado was outshot 1117-1079, so the defense will be called upon to do a better job containing opposition offenses.
Chris Levis will once again be the No. 1 goalie. His 12.26 goals against average and .758 save percentage were both in the bottom half of NLL goaltenders last year, but if the defense can do a better job and he sees less rubber this year, his numbers are liable to improve.
The Mammoth have signed veteran Matt Roik to back up Levis and should do an adequate job in that role.
With an interesting combination of veterans and youth, Colorado should be in good shape to repeat or improve upon its performance from last year. Its season opens on Jan. 12 at home against the Washington Stealth.
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