"A lot of people have already taken the pressure of defending our title off us," says Duquette. "They say that even though we won it last year, we graduated all those guys and there's no way we can do it again. People really don't know what we have here."
What they have is Rullman and some fine players who trust him. As Smith says, "I go after attackmen now when they step back to feed, knowing that if I'm over-aggressive and lose my man Roddy will be there."
Roddy Rullman, in short, is the anchor for his team, no mean feat under Thiel's relaxed rule at Virginia where the Cavaliers are their own people. "We have no strict training rules," says Rullman. "There's nothing rigid about the coach. He tells us, 'It's up to you—you know what we're shooting for.' Some of the coaches around this place are really strict. You'd think you're playing for ROTC or something."
Most days Roddy is one of the last to leave the locker room after practice. The excuse is always the same: a game of soap hockey in the shower with Boo Smith. And who won the last contest? "I did," says Smith. "Of course Roddy says he did, but he didn't."