By DOUG PHILPOTT
Toronto Tomahawks’ leading point scorer, Duffy McCarthy has a simple philosophy about everything he does.
And that philosophy just won’t allow his lacrosse success to go to his head.
McCarthy, 23, wholeheartedly believes that he can become better in what he does, simply because he can always learn something new from what he is doing.
“You can be great in any field, but you can always become better,” said McCarthy.
The Tommies’ assistant captain is currently setting an example for his teammates scoring 49 points to date, on 18 goals and 31 assists in nine games.
He has led all Toronto scorers from the very first game of the season.
McCarthy has successfully applied his philosophy becoming proficient in two pro sports over the past year.
This spring he completed his first season of pro hockey playing right wing for the National Hockey League Detroit Red Wings’ affiliate, the London, England Lions club.
The Lions operated out of Britain for the first six weeks of the hockey season and then toured Europe playing exhibition games.
McCarthy noted that he enjoyed the past hockey season and believes it was a very educational experience for him both on and off the ice.
“I learned a lot about the game from their (European) style of play,” McCarthy added.
He also believes the past season was his best since graduating from the Ontario Hockey Association Major junior A ranks. The two seasons prior to signing with the Detroit organization, he continued to play as an amateur in the International Hockey League.
McCarthy is no stranger in lacrosse to Toronto general manager and coach Jim Bishop.
Prior to the current campaign he played for the Canadian championship Windsor Warlocks in the OLA Senior A loop.
On his return to Canada from Europe, McCarthy learned he had been drafted by the National Lacrosse League Tomahawks.
“I was happy to hear I’d have a chance at playing for Bish again,” McCarthy said.
“I hope some day to go into coaching lacrosse, and you can’t learn more about box lacrosse than you can from him.”
Last year, Bishop set up a weight-training program for McCarthy under the guidance of fitness expert Lloyd Percival.
McCarthy was also working on his skating at a local arena.
“As far as I’m concerned I just didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about the game until I played for Bishop.
“I consider myself a poor defensive player. That part of my game is not the best, but Bishop is going to teach me a lot to improve it.
“My ultimate goal is to adapt to his style completely, and, I know, I’m going to be a better ball player for it.”
Fellow Tomahawk Jim Hinkson and a former teammate of Duffy’s at Windsor indicated McCarthy rapidly developed into the leader of the Warlock offence.
“He is the finest pointman on a power play I’ve ever seen,” said Hinkson. “Some pointmen slow the ball down and make the power play ineffective. Duffy has the ability to move the ball quickly, pass with pinpoint accuracy and shoot with deadly efficiency.”
McCarthy, five feet, nine inches and 175 pounds, had been hampered through the pre-season exhibition contests and early into the schedule with an injury to his right elbow. Only recently has he felt the effects of treatment and has since fully recovered.
McCarthy, who admits he is small in size compared to the average hockey player, feels his size is not as great a disadvantage in lacrosse.
“It’s a lot different on your feet than on skates,” explained McCarthy. “In hockey the smaller player gets hammered pretty badly and ends up continually being knocked off the puck. In lacrosse you’re more stable on your feet.”
McCarthy stated lacrosse has helped him get in better shape physically for hockey than any other conditioning program.
“You’ve got to have tremendous stamina playing box lacrosse. You’ve got to go both ways and keep running all the time.”
McCarthy admits his boyhood lacrosse idle [sic] John Davis (now playing for Montreal’s Les Quebecois) still amazes him.
“Davis is a small player, but he’s one of the best. When he’s out on the floor he controls the play. He knows where everybody is or should be, and has great anticipation of where his teammates and opposition are going to be and what they’re going to do.
“And his shooting ability? Fantastic, just something else.”
McCarthy admits to copying a lot of Davis’ traits.
“Sometimes I use[d] to go out with a ball by myself and work for hours on little tricks he uses, trying to master them myself.
“Heck, I’m still trying to learn some of them I’ve seen him use on us this season.”
Although McCarthy admits hockey overall is probably a rougher game than lacrosse, he says lacrosse is a much more sophisticated game.
“If you’re a winger in hockey you go up and down with a special job to do within an offensive pattern.
“Lacrosse is more a combination of hockey and basketball. Most of the time everybody is on offence and many times a goaltender is an important part of setting up the offence.
“In hockey you have specified forwards and defencemen while it’s not that simple in lacrosse.
“In lacrosse you always set up using your offence to pick away at a defence, similar to plays in basketball.”
McCarthy realizes that there’s going to come a time when he’s going to have to make a choice between playing professional lacrosse or hockey.
He’ll have to weigh their individual financial rewards against his ability in each sport and also give some consideration to his sentimental feeling for both.
He admits right now that he’s successfully enjoying playing both, but he hasn’t forgotten that he’s still got to work hard to stay there.