Player Spotlight highlights the finer details and elements while supplying insight to the fans on what a player's thought process may be pertaining to a certain play, game or situation. It brings the intensity, passion, and inner most thoughts of the individual player that otherwise may not be felt or heard.
Dhane Smith of the Buffalo Bandits is in the PLPA Player Spotlight. By Bob Chavez
That's no surprise to anyone who has followed the career of Smith, going back to his junior days with Kitchener-Waterloo. But during his first 3 National Lacrosse League seasons, it's as though Smith's skill set was in search of an identity as he worked out of both doors.
Sure, he still scored goals while working in transition with the Buffalo Bandits, doing whatever the team needed when it needed it. There were times, though, when it seemed his offensive set was being stifled and we knew it was just a matter of time before his full goal-scoring potential would be unleashed.
That time was 2016. It started with 5 points in Buffalo's season opener and from there, he scored 5 or more points in 17 of 18 games. Leading the charge on his record-breaking 137-point season was a barrage of goals that saw Smith score 3 or more goals in 16 of 18 games to average 4 per en route to another NLL record, 72 in a single season.
So now that it's happened, in just his fourth NLL season, what more can we expect? Hard to say for sure, but this much we do know: Smith's got a scoring touch and an all-around game that's got him on a trajectory to go down as one of the game's all-time greats.
Let's catch up with Smith and get some of his thoughts about his early days of lacrosse, what it's like to play in Buffalo and what he thinks of being the league's single-season scoring champion.
|Let's get started with the obligatory "how did you get started" in lacrosse question. How old were you when you first picked up a stick?|
"My dad played junior growing up and my cousin Billy Dee Smith played as well. I started playing at the age of 3 in Hamilton, then moved to Kitchener."
|Your first couple of NLL seasons saw you play some transition. Has spending time in an NLL back end given you a perspective that's helped your game as a forward today?|
"Coming into pro, I knew I had to take on whatever role they gave me. I feel my junior coaches prepared me for that. I strongly feel that it helped my game tremendously."
|Playing in front Bandit Land must be crazy and great at the same time. Is it possible to describe that atmosphere?|
"Playing in Bandit Land is incredible, no place is like it and I truly mean that. With 14 to 19,000 fans every home game all dressed up in black and orange, it's special."
|Away from Buffalo, which NLL city is your favorite for a road trip?|
|"My favourite road trip would have to be Rochester or Toronto, both huge rivals. If we play in Rochester, we have as many fans as them, which is awesome. Toronto is nice as well, where family and friends come to visit."
|You've always been a goal-scorer, but did you ever imagine you'd have 72 in one season to set the NLL record?|
"I never thought I would be at this point of my career at 23. When I heard 71 was the record I thought to myself how is that even possible and to do it is something that I will remember for the rest of my life."
|What is it that went right for your personal game this season that allowed you to score the way you have?|
"I think the biggest reason for my success, besides my teammates, was my confidence and having the chance to play with so many talented players at worlds for Team Canada. That was a learning curve for myself."
|Are you much of a trash talker? I'm sure you hear a lot. Who runs the best and funniest smack during games?|
|"I'm not much of a trash talker. I don't think, anyways. Bigger games against rivals, sometimes you hear a thing or two. The funniest smack during the game would have to be my cousin Billy."
|What do you do for work outside of lacrosse?|
"No job for myself outside of lacrosse besides running camps in the summer. I also do assembly programs during the season. Anytime I can give back to the community is something I love to do."
|Best advice for young lacrosse players today who have NLL dreams?|
|"My advice to young lacrosse players today is never give up. There are always obstacles, it's how you overcome them that shows who you are."
Bob Chavez has been covering the NLL since 1995 and has been a writer/editor for ILIndoor.com since its inception in 2008. He lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York with his wife and 2 children.