Coach, GM ready Pittsburgh’s lacrosse team

by David Fink

Post-Gazette Sports Writer

In less than a month on the job, Haswell Franklin and Dennis Wey may have already turned the Pittsburgh Bulls into a lean, mean machine capable of creating more than just a ripple in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League this season.

Franklin was named general manager and Wey coach of the expansion team Oct. 5, and already they have made their first trade, participated in their first draft and signed their first free agents.

“We want a team that’s aggressive and always plays physical because we think that’s the kind of team the people of Pittsburgh will take to,” said Franklin, a Johns Hopkins University graduate who served as assistant coach at Loyola University in Baltimore from 1984-87 and has been assistant coach of the Canadian World Team since 1986.

But Franklin also knows there is no substitute for scoring goals.  So he swung a trade with Baltimore, dealing three draft picks for Butch Marino, the No. 2 scorer in the MILL last year.

“Marino’s got one of the hardest shots you’ll ever see,” Wey said yesterday.  “It’s the lacrosse equivalent of the best slap shot in the NHL.”

Unlike most leagues, the MILL allowed the expansion team to draft first, and the Bulls selected Brendan Kelly, a feisty 5-foot-8, 155-pound forward from Johns Hopkins.

“He’s a lot smaller than most guys in the league, but he gets everybody’s attention,” said Wey, who played two years for the Philadelphia wings before serving as the defending MILL champions’ assistant coach last year.

On the other hand, Dave Pietramala, another Johns Hopkins graduate, is much bigger than most MILL players.  The 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman was the 1989 College Lacrosse Player of the Year but, originally, he was not going to turn pro.

Franklin and Wey cajoled him into signing as a free agent, and Franklin said, “That was a steal.”

Pietramala has been one of the stars of the team’s first few workouts in the Baltimore-Washington area.  Practices will continue there because that’s where many Bulls live and work, including the Gold brothers (Mark and Joe), who also signed as free agents after the Washington franchise merged with Baltimore.  Three years ago, Mark led the MILL in scoring and Joe was No. 2.

“With them and Marino, we have a solid nucleus of veterans who can score and lead us,” said Wey.

Last night, Franklin and Wey conducted their first local tryouts.

Eventually, they will work with a 25-man group, including three goalies.  Two goalies and 16 players will dress for each game, starting with the Jan. 5 match against New England at the Civic Arena.  Franklin thinks there will be a local flavor to the final roster, too.

“How much of one I couldn’t say yet, but there are two good lacrosse leagues here, and we think some of those players can play in our league.  We’ll find out soon enough.”

NOTES—Salaries in the MILL range from $175-$200 a game for rookies to $350 for three-year veterans…The league is in its fourth year of existence.

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 2, 1989)

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