Charlotte Hounds Making an Immediate Impact in Major League Lacrosse

Phil ShoreCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2011

UNIONDALE, NY - AUGUST 13:  Matt Danowski #40 of the Long Island Lizards in action against Kyle Rubisch #8 of the Hamilton Nationals during their Major League Lacrosse game on August 13, 2011 at Shuart Stadium in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Charlotte Hounds are entering Major League Lacrosse with a bang.

In putting together the inaugural roster, the expansion club is sparing no expense. Management has been aggressive in putting together an offensive-minded roster with plenty of big names.

The biggest move the team made was during the expansion draft, when they traded with the Long Island Lizards for perennial MVP candidate Matt Danowski.

“We decided to make a move that would provide us with MLL-ready players for training camp at the start of the season,” Hounds director of sales and marketing Wade Leaphart said in an interview with MLL.

Danowski, a four-time All-American at nearby Duke University (where his dad also coaches), comes back to the state of North Carolina with an impressive professional career resume. He was an All-Star his first season in the league (2008) and has been every year since.

Last season, Danowski finished fourth in the league in points, first in two-point goals and tied for second in game-winning goals. He continued to show every week how dangerous he was on offense and had at least two points every game. Danowski is also a starting attackman for the U.S. national team.

Charlotte scored big time in getting Danowski. The team acquires a player who is extremely talented, has a high profile and can bring in fans (he’s the star of Warrior’s “Manchine” commercials). He is a guy with local ties who will help with community relations.

He’s also only 26 years old, so he can be the cornerstone of the franchise for a number of years to come.

The Hounds didn’t stop with Danowski, though. In the deal to bring the attackman to Charlotte, the team also received All-Star midfielder Stephen Berger. Berger has been a staple in the Lizards' midfield since 2005 and was in the top 15 in points last season.

Another name joining the former Lizards is attackman Billy Bitter, who was traded to the team from the Denver Outlaws. Bitter is another collegiate star from the state of North Carolina and is a Tar Heels alumnus. He scored 12 goals in his rookie season to go along with four assists in only nine games.

“I’ve basically been down in North Carolina the past five years. I’ve grown to love the state a lot,” Bitter told MLL. “I have a lot of close people down here so I’m real excited…to be part of this organization.”

Rounding out a pretty talented and deep attack field is 2011 MLL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Boltus. He was selected away from the Hamilton Nationals with Charlotte’s first selection in the expansion draft. Boltus scored 19 goals in 12 games last season and had a total of 30 points.

As the roster continues to fill out, there is plenty here for Charlotte lacrosse fans to be optimistic about.

The team has not only been aggressive in acquiring talent, but has the makings of a dynamic offense. The new players should be entertaining to watch and the could help make the Hounds a very competitive team—even as an expansion club.