Turmoil besets Iroquois team

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

The world lacrosse championships haven't started yet, but there has already been a coaching casualty.

Ron Doctor, who was in charge of the Iroquois Nationals for the 1998 and 2002 world championships, is no longer part of the team, throwing the team consisting of First Nations players into turmoil before their opening game against England tomorrow at TD Waterhouse Stadium.

Associate head coach Bill Bjorness and assistant Jason Basso ran the Iroquois practice yesterday afternoon at Brescia Fields. Iroquois officials, who refused comment, planned to issue a release on their coaching situation late last night.

"I don't know what happened -- I just got here after driving from Six Nations (near Brantford)," Iroquois star attacker Delby Powless said. "He (Ron) isn't here and I don't know what the situation is. We're just here to play. We'll just try to go out there and win."

Doctor, an alumnus of Syracuse University, is the head coach of the Skaneatles, N.Y., high school boys' lacrosse team.

Bjorness, who has been involved with the Iroquois team since 1994, and Basso both coach at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y.

Doctor has two sons -- Chris and Vince -- who play for the Iroquois team.

The Iroquois Nationals finished fourth at the 2002 worlds in Perth, Australia, after losing to the host side by a goal in the bronze medal game. They face Canada on Saturday in a nationally televised game on CBC.

"It's going to be good for Canadians to watch the field game and see what it's like, compared to the box game," said Powless, a former Rutgers University lacrosse player who now suits up in the National Lacrosse League for the Buffalo Bandits.

"We know we're in a tough group with Australia, England and Japan. Then, there's the U.S. and Canada, so there's no easy wins here. We're looking to medal -- that's always the goal."

It's a goal made even more difficult without their original head coach and a major distraction right before the start of the tournament.


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