The outspoken star of the Orange women dishes on everything in a special Fizz Cast.
There’s a certain beauty to college athletics, and it’s not because Syracuse lacrosse star Michelle Tumolo is easy on the eyes. It’s because since athletes aren’t paid, they also can’t be fined for what they say. Which allows us a window into the minds of these players, either by Twitter or in front of a microphone. Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine refused to acknowledge the terrible officiating after the Ohio State loss in the Elite 8 at the podium. But at his locker, Dion Waiters openly discussed the Orange disadvantage playing 5-on-8. Tumolo comes from the Dion school of candidness.
Michelle became a crossover star in SU’s run to the NCAA Championship Game last month. She’s one the best players in the country, does with a thrilling high-paced style, and is colorful and outspoken. The Orange attempted to slay the Goliath of women’s lax in Northwestern. The powerful Wildcats jumped on Syracuse and then sat on it, playing a brand of kill-the-clock prevent defense to win the title. Orange Nation wailed at the stodgy, conservative gameplay and stall tactics of the Wildcats. Tumolo echoed that sentiment.
“I really am angry.”
In a frank and wide-ranging conversation with The Fizz, Michelle discussed everything including her frustration while the game was unfolding.
“I actually said to the girl covering me, ‘This is so boring. I cannot believe this. This is why no one wants to watch the game. This is bad, this is so bad.'”
Tumolo says Northwestern’s style was a result of fear.
“We weren’t really expecting a national championship team – that had been in the national championship for eight straight years – would be stalling on a team they had already beaten. You know, it was really just mind boggling to us because, I’m not gonna lie, they kinda seemed scared to play us. Because they saw what we did against Florida.”
Michelle also said that while the pace killed most of the fans, the officiating was what killed the Orange.
“It wasn’t what we expected. Every single call went towards Northwestern. I mean blatant fouls not called for us. I had a good check at the end of the game. It would have maybe led to a fast break and then a goal and it would have been a one goal game. It just makes me angry.”
Tumolo laments the fact the women’s game is afraid to be as physical as the men.
“I really wish we could play like the boys, to be honest.”
While Michelle railed on the inconsistency of the officiating from week-to-week, she also wants to see players allowed to run through the crease when they shoot (like the men). She says this would allow for more creative shots, something the rest of women’s lacrosse probably doesn’t want to see until Tumolo graduates. She’s already the sport’s most exciting player, and says sometimes she’ll try a trick shot just to wake the crowd up. She’s a born entertainer.
That flair is nurtured and encouraged by her coach. Gary Gait must see a little bit of his own showmanship in the program’s best player. Air Gait invented a shot so good it was later banned by the NCAA. The two have a special relationship and can often be found talking during the game while SU is on defense.
“When I get shut off, I’ll run over there and he’ll tell me ‘we’re going to do this to get you away from her’ or the next play he wants to run. Or maybe calm me down. Sometimes I get a bit riled up.”
Tumolo credits Gait with the program’s growth. He’s killed it on the recruiting trail, resulting in a deep squad that could be the preseason #1 next year. Michelle says for the current players though, his belief in them is what matters the most. She says Gait and the coaching staff convinced themselves she was going to win the Tewaarton award while she thought it was a long shot (Maryland’s Katie Schwarzmann won it as Tumolo was one of five finalists).Listen to the FizzCast as Michelle discusses her experience with Team USA, her “texture problem” at the beach and her nerves on game day.
Posted: Craig Hoffman