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5 potential head coach candidates to lead a PLL team in 2020

Pro Lacrosse Talk lists the 5 best available head coach candidates that the PLL should hire to coach the Chrome, Atlas or an expansion team in 2020.

UPDATE: This post has been updated from its original version to reflect the PLL’s announcement that it will be adding a seventh team in 2020.

UPDATE #2: Bear Davis has confirmed with Pro Lacrosse Talk’s Hutton Jackson that he is not being considered for a PLL head coaching job.

On October 14, the PLL announced that Coach Dom Starsia would not return to helm the Chrome and would instead transition to a role with the PLL Advisory board. Just days later on October 17, the PLL announced that Atlas head coach John Paul would also be stepping down. These moves created the first head coach vacancies in the PLL since the six inaugural teams were announced.

With the Chrome and Atlas both in the market for a new head coach and the PLL announcing an expansion team will join the league next season, Pro Lacrosse Talk decided to compile a list of available coaching candidates that would be a great fit to helm a PLL team in 2020.

Bear Davis
(Confirmed that he is not being considered)

From revitalizing programs to starting teams from scratch, the former head coach of the Ohio Machine has found success at every level. Davis is known for starting NCAA lacrosse programs at Wheeling Jesuit and Robert Morris, both of which have seen plenty of success in their respective divisions.

Later, Davis took over an Ohio Machine team that in a season and a half had only won three games. He turned them into a contender with back-to-back championship appearances, winning it all in 2017. Davis would be a prime candidate to turn around a Chrome team that finished 2-8 in the regular season and failed to win a game in the draft bracket. However, Davis could be an even better fit to help helm the recently announced expansion franchise and build a contender from the ground up.

Listen to our interview with Coach Bear Davis:

Brian Reese

Brian Reese is another candidate who has a wealth of coaching experience at the professional level. A former championship-winning defenseman in the MLL, Reese coached the Denver Outlaws from 2006 to 2011 finishing with a 32-17 record and three championship appearances. He most recently served as head coach with the Chesapeake Bayhawks in 2016 and 2017.

In addition to coaching, Reese has experience as a general manager, a role that coaches in the PLL also possess, giving him a leg up on other candidates. He is currently now a volunteer assistant for the University of Maryland women’s team where his wife coaches, and would have plenty of time to take over the Chrome or Atlas if offered the job. Yet, given the impact he had on the Denver Outlaws organization in their inception, there’s no better candidate on this list to lead the PLL’s new expansion team.

Rick Sowell

Sowell is currently in the market for a coaching job after being let go from the Naval Academy this past spring, and while he doesn’t have any professional coaching experience, his college resume is as robust as any.

Prior to spending eight seasons at the Naval Academy, Sowell spent five seasons at Stony Brook, finishing with a went 47-26 record. He has also made coaching stops at St. John’s, Dartmouth, Georgetown and his alma mater Washington College. As a professional player, he spent five seasons with the Baltimore Thunder in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL).

Sowell would bring a fresh perspective to the league and taking on a struggling Chrome team or Atlas team in need of direction could be a great opportunity for him if the right college gig doesn’t present itself.

Tony Resch

So far we’ve discussed candidates outside the PLL, but if the league decides to interview a coach already in the league, Tony Resch should be at the top of that list. As an assistant with the Archers in 2019, Resch was monumental in fielding a top-ranked defense that boasted the lowest score against average (10.5 points per game) in the regular season and held teams to single-digit games five different times.

Additionally, Resch has plenty of head coaching experience at the pro level, winning four NLL titles with the Philadelphia Wings and two MLL titles with the Philadelphia Barrage. No other candidate on this list has had as much coaching success at the professional level than Resch has.

The Chrome have the talent on defense, but often failed to make late-game adjustments that resulted in losing end a lot of close games. Resch, known for his in-game defensive adjustments, could be the guy to help right the ship. However, he could also make an immediate impact with an Atlas team that narrowly missed the playoffs in 2019 and could be poised to make a playoff run with the right leader at the helm.

Matt Danowski

Now you’re probably thinking “Doesn’t Matt Danowski still play in the PLL?”

We’re not trying to force Matt Danowski into early retirement and he’s shown he’s still got some lacrosse left in the tank, but Danowski coaching a team of Duke alumni is a match made in heaven.

He already has plenty of coaching experience as an assistant under his father John Danowski at Duke, and of the candidates we’ve mentioned, he also has the strongest relationship with the players on the Chrome roster. So, if Matt Danowski does decide to hang up the cleats as a player, we can’t think of a better candidate to lead the Chrome next season.

Hutton Jackson is a professional video editor, co-founder/host of Pro Lacrosse Talk and editor-in-chief of Lacrosse Playground. He is also an Emmy-winning associate producer with two major sports networks and oversees Lacrosse Playground's video content as the head coordinating producer. Hutton played four years of college lacrosse at DeSales University where his highest lacrosse accolade was being named to Inside Lacrosse's 2014 All-Name Team with current pros Challen Rogers, Deemer Class and Larken Kemp, an honor that didn't require stepping on the field. When he's not writing on lacrosse, he can usually be found diving around the crease in your local men's league and ranting about Baltimore and D.C. professional sports.

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