Three of the top five scorers in the Division I era of men's lacrosse at Loyola have come from Syracuse, N.Y., snatched away from their successful hometown college program for one reason or another. Jim Blanding was the first of those players to play at Loyola, and his offensive skills helped cement Coach Dave Cottle's Greyhounds as an NCAA tournament regular.
Those talents were never more evident than during his sophomore year, the 1990 season, when Blanding tied the school's Division I record with 60 points, earned first-team All-America honors and helped the Greyhounds to their first NCAA championship game, against his hometown Orange.
He did it despite standing just 5-foot-6, an undersized, underdog attackman on a team full of underdogs. None was more important to Blanding than another Loyola Athletics Hall of Famer, Mike Ruland, '90, who was probably even smaller than he was; Blanding and Ruland played together for one season in 1989.
"From watching Mike, I learned that even at the highest level it didn't matter how big you were," Blanding says. "I saw that it could really be hard to guard a smaller guy. Watching him do it gave me a lot of momentum heading into my sophomore year."
Blanding, a product of the powerful program at West Genesee High School in Camillus, N.Y., was as adept as a passer as he was dodging to the cage for goals. His 84 career assists were the most in the Division I era at Loyola until Justin Ward broke the record 22 years later; he finished with 98 goals, eighth on the team's list. He also earned All-America honors in both 1991 (third team) and 1992 (honorable mention).
Blanding lives with his wife and three children in the Syracuse area, where he is active coaching girls' lacrosse.