Michigan will try to get back on the winning side of the ledger after taking a sledgehammer to the face against Notre Dame last weekend.
The TempoFreeLax.com numbers displayed here are last year’s. We’re getting close to the point where I’ll flip to this year’s marks. That day is not today. It might be Tuesday.
|Off. Eff.||29.09 (45)|
|Def. Eff.||33.14 (43)|
Although the MAAC is generally one of the faster conferences (a lot of bad defense and a lot of failed clears will do that to ya), Canisius manages to be real slow. Part of that is because they’ve been able to dominate the ball on opponents (and presumably sit on it until the shot clock hits :02).
The offense and defense are parallels of each other: they’re similarly bad-to-mediocre. Part of that is the strength of schedule adjustment – playing in the MAAC does no favors there, as stellar a lacrosse team as Manhattan traditionally is – but part of it just, well is what it is. The Golden Griffins haven’t been particularly good at anything except controlling the ball, and that can be enough to win in a mid-major league.
So far this year, Canisius is 0-3, with losses to Boston University (bad), Furman (bad), and Air Force (wouldn’t be that bad, but they got destroyed, 13-6). I don’t really think they’re going to be setting any new records for competency.
The offense has been well-rounded thus far, albeit through three losses. Senior midfielder Tim Edwards is the leading scorer with four goals and five assists, and his younger brother Jeff (a sophomore and fellow midfielder) has three and three. Fifth-year senior Christopher Kane has three goals and two assists. Nick Tuttle played a big role last year (14 goals and one assist), but hasn’t done much this year despite starting all three games.
Junior attack Billy Jacobbi is the true finisher, with five goals and no assists so far on the year. He hasn’t started any of the games so far, so his production may be a matter of circumstance. Starter Vince Gravino has just a single goal on the year.
Either way, this is an offense that initiates through the midfield, but creates opportunities for the attack to rack up points. That means Michigan will need strong LSM (yes) and d-middie (maybe, but usually yes) play.
The defense has been real bad against some (probably) real bad offensive teams so far. That’s – you guessed it – bad.
Senior goalie Alex Govenettio has played every minute between the pipes (and did most of the dirty work last year – gave up just a few minutes in late-game situations), but has not done very well. He saved .535 last year, but is at just .478 so far this year. Either he got worse, or the defense in front of him did.
Senior Adam Donner and junior Rich Stapleton are returning starters, so it really shouldn’t be that diminished. Sophomore Paul Burich has moved into the starting lineup after getting just a few minutes last year, so unless he’s an epic weak link, there’s probably been an issue with the defensive midfield.
LSM Kevin Collins and defensive midfielder Mike Vavonese played a bunch last year. They even had some offensive production. I’m at a loss for how essentially the same set of players gets a lot worse (against really bad competition) in a year.
Part of it has to do with how much they’ve been on the field (and how they got there – a quick perusal of the play-by-play data indicates that six of their goals conceded this year have come directly off failed clears)…
Tim Edwards was a .611 faceoff guy last year, and he’s down to .458 so far this year. Against a good (albeit streaky) FOGO like Brad Lott, he could struggle to around .400, or take over and force Michigan to put in LSM Chase Brown to control the game. Freshman Steven Coss has been worse than Edwards.
The worst aspect of all, however, has been the clear. Canisius is dead last in the nation among teams that have played more than one game, at just under 70%. Inside Oosterbaan Fieldhouse (a traditionally tough clearing venue for opponents) and against a U-M team that’s willing to ride hard, this could be a struggle. They’ve made up some of the discrepancy by riding relatively hard – 16.22% success – but it’s not enough. They’re a poor possession team.
Canisius has played aa very clean game in comparison to opponents this year, though they haven’t been great at converting on the EMO. Meanwhile, Furman and Air Force each converted 1/2 man-up opportunities. You’d like to think Michigan is comparable or better on the extra-man than those two, though chances to employ it will be slim.
This is a chance for Michigan to get off the mat after Notre Dame gave them the ol’ “think you’re a top-20 team? I’ll show you a top-20 team” treatment. Canisius seems to have taken a big step back from last year, even though most of their personnel remains the same. That can be a double-edged sword: hey probably snap out of it at some point.
It would be pretty impressive for that point to be against a fringe ranked team like Michigan. They’ll probably do most of their damage in the MAAC, because they’ve already fallen to two of their easier non-conference opponents.
Michigan can build up a nice resume and help the Big Ten (the league has struggled so far this year), and if they win enough in the non-conference, they could be in position to challenge for an at-large tournament bid if they make a surprising run through the league.
Michigan is a pretty good team, Canisius is a pretty bad one to date in 2015.
- Despite playing one of their toughest opponents of the season, Canisius probably starts a long road of rounding into form this afternoon. It shouldn’t be enough to beat Michigan, but there’s a good chance they move up the national TFL rankings even with a loss.
- They’ll really struggle to clear in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. Even good clearing teams do so, with the white ceiling and walls, and the intimidation factor of limited sideline clearance. A bad clearing team like Canisius… Michigan should ride them hard and find success doing it.
- Transition offense will be important for Michigan if they’re going to turn this one into a blowout. Rideback goals and clean faceoff wins should allow them to make this a very comfortable one. If they don’t get those opportunities, it should still be a win, but will be a closer-than-expected one.
- I’m done trying to figure out Michigan’s faceoffs. Brad Lott is a really good faceoff guy… but is prone to major downturns where he can’t seem to get anything going. He’s a 60%-plus guy this year in my opinion, but it seems like the majority of those 40% on he wrong side will come in just four or five games.
- Michigan’s defense should have what it takes to slow down (though not shut down) Canisius. That should be enough to get the win.
Michigan is the better team, and though Canisius will improve over the course of this season from there they’ve started it, they’re off to a rocky beginning. The more talented team across the board playing at home (in a venue that’s given it one of the best home-field advantages possible) should get the win. Michigan takes it, 14-7.
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