The average sports fan might have seen Matt Danowski's behind-the-back, over-the-shoulder shot against Maryland in SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays this weekend, admiring it for its flash as it was sandwiched between basketball highlights.

What the average observer might not know, however, is that the reigning Tewaaraton Trophy winner can launch the ball up to 100 miles per hour.

"Want to know why?" sophomore Max Quinzani asked before revealing Danowski's secret. "Because he has extra-long arms. I have no idea [why that helps], but his arms hang down to his knees. I'm stumpy. I will never have a hard shot."

Although the highlight-reel flick past Terrapin goalie Jason Carter in Duke's 15-7 victory Saturday was not the most conventional shot, it demonstrated the versatility of attackmen in lacrosse and the ability of players like Danowski to capitalize creatively on opportunities.

"He just reacted," head coach John Danowski said. "He caught a ball that he's probably going to fall in the crease anyway, so he might as well shoot it."

Matt Danowski's quick reaction on that play was just one of many examples of the wide variety of shots that are possible in lacrosse. He said it is the toughest shot to make in the game-the ability to release a good shot while sprinting down the field and being chased by defenders. But it's also his favorite.

A slightly easier, but equally important, shot is what is known as "turning the corner." The attackman comes from behind the cage, dips his inside shoulder to get around his defenseman and then fires the ball past both him and the goalie. Danowski said Quinzani, who has recorded back-to-back hat tricks against Maryland and Vermont, excels at this kind of shot.

A rarer attempt, which generally only occurs during man-up situations, is when the players have a lot of room and time to shoot the ball. This allows the players to get set and take a couple of steps, enabling them to wind up and get more velocity on their shot.

Nearer to the cage, the objective is to find the open spots, catch the ball close to the body and fire it past the goalie so he doesn't have time to react. This kind of shot is senior Zack Greer's specialty. He scored an NCAA-high 67 goals last season, largely thanks to the ability to convert inside.

"Anywhere from within eight yards, nine yards, he's just deadly," senior goalie Dan Loftus said. "He's so accurate. [Greer and Danowski] are both different types of shooters, but they're both obviously very successful at what they do."

Whereas Greer is known for his accuracy, Danowski clearly is more renowned for his velocity. Several players credit Danowski with having the hardest shot on the team.

Danowski said that Quinzani's analysis rang true. The attackman's long arms help because they allow him to get more torque on the ball. In that respect, the perfect lacrosse shot is similar to comparable motions in other sports, such as a tennis or golf swing, a baseball pitch or a quarterback's pass. The key is to transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot so that you can use your lower body to power the shot.

It's also important to start off in an athletic position with bent knees, and to have your arms back far enough that your chin is touching your shoulder. After that, it's all in the execution. Danowski steps into his shot as he releases, and he follows through so far that his back shoulder hits the other side of his head. He said one of the most important aspects is to have strong wrists and to snap them during the follow-through.

Greer, on the other hand, worries less about winding up and getting a lot of velocity, instead focusing on getting a quick release.

And while some players may have their favorite shots-whether it's Danowski shooting on the run, Greer firing from close to the cage, Quinzani from behind or Brad Ross rifling an overhand attempt-that doesn't mean they can't execute the others. Quinzani shot the ball underhand Saturday for the first time in his Duke career, and Danowski's behind-the-back tally underscored that choosing the right shot is all about the scenario.

"Certainly, I think everybody shoots differently," John Danowski said. "It really depends on where you are on the field, and where your defender is will determine what kind of shot you're going to use."


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