Michigan Preview: Brown

A really poor midweek result against Jacksonville, and a tough test this weekend. It could be a rough week for the Maize and Blue, or a chance for redemption.

Brown

Brown University Bears lacrosse

Is it just me or is the Bear red? This seems… wrong

March 8, 2015. 3 p.m. EST
Oosterbaan Fieldhouse
Live stats.
@UMichLacrosse.
Michigan Preview.
Brown Preview.

Tempo-Free Profile

The TempoFreeLax.com numbers displayed here are last year’s. Brown has only played three games so far, and impressive though they’ve been in that time, there’s not enough data quite yet. The Bears appear to be quite a bit better than last year’s team, so be forewarned.

Brown 2014
Pace 70.21 (6)
Poss% 50.56 (32)
Off. Eff. 28.77 (47)
Def. Eff. 30.30 (29)
Pyth% 47.72 (34)

Last year’s Brown team played very fast, but barely had more than half of those possessions. This year’s team, on the other hand, is much faster (thanks in part to a more potent offense), and is way better at dominating the ball. They’re above 80 possessions per game, and are at nearly 60% in their own sticks.

The offense and defense are both a degree better than last year’s marks (the O far more so), but the majority of the team’s improvement has been due to the blistering pace and the possession game. More possessions = wider possession margin – big wins.

There is one caveat: strength of schedule. Last year’s Brown team played the No. 31 slate nationally, and to date, this year’s is just No. 44. Especially with the numbers as volatile as they are this early in the year, that’s fairly meaningful. The Bears will see tougher competition this season than they have thus far, potentially starting with this weekend’s Michigan game.

Offense

Brown has played three games. Sophomore attack Dylan Molloy has 18 goals. Is that good? I think it’s good. Molloy has added a pair of assists to lap the field in terms of point output. He’s the dangerman on this offense, no doubt.

A pair of juniors, attack Henry Blynn and midfielder Brendan Caputo, have nine points apiece, with a slight skew toward goals, rather than assists (this will be a theme: it’s surprising to see an offense as prolific as the Bears’ with barely more than half the goals assisted). Another couple juniors, attack Kyle Bellistri (5G, 2A) and midfielder Matt Graham (2G, 0A) have started a pair of games each, with seniors Tim Jacob and Tyler Landis filling in once each in the starting lineup.

Brown, for all its 17- and 18-point games, has been good-not-great on offense. If you can shut down a piece or two – the hope would be Molloy, though that’s likely unrealistic – you can really limit their efficiency. They’re still certain to get theirs by sheer volume of possessions, but they’d have to do just that to run up a big score.

Defense

The defense has been pretty good, a touch behind the offense. There are two sides to not facing a ton of possessions: the unit gets to rest, but they can get just a bit rusty (and each individual goal has more impact on the efficiency mark than each offensive goal).

Junior goalie Jack Kelly has been the man between the pipes, though a range of blowouts in the first three contests has allowed sophomore Peter Scott and freshman Brad Peters to see a half combined between then. Kelly will play while the game is competitive, and he’s saving .660 of shots faced. He’s only had to make 31 saves to reach that mark through the Bears’ torrid start.

Sophomore Alec Tulett slots into a starting lineup with seniors Stephen Loudon and Will Swindell at close defense. Surprisingly given the possession disparity (and, we’ll see shortly, no huge advantage in most of the special teams), this isn’t much of a takeaway team. Swindell leads the squad with seven total, and LSM Larken Kemp – who also leads the team in ground balls despite missing a game (hello, excellent faceoff wing play) – has five.

Freshman defenseman Jake Miller is one of the key backups as well, making appearances in all three games and figuring near the top of the GB chart. It’s tough to say who the true short-stick defensive midfielders are from the stats at this point. Either they are given carte blanche to go forward, or they simply don’t factor in much in the defensive stats.

Special Teams

Brown was absolutely outstanding on faceoffs through two games, with Will Gural winning 34/49 draws, Ted Ottens 3/6, and Jodan Schochet 2/3. Things weren’t so great against Hartford’s only-decent faceoff unit, with Gural struggling to 5/14 before Otten and Schochet came in to calm things down and get it back to a .500 mark. That’s one killer aspect of this team: if one really talented faceoff guy struggles, others can come in to stem the tide and get wins.

The majority of Brown’s possession advantage has been built up through that .612 faceoff mark, because they’re above-average, but not exceptional in both phases of the transition game. With this contest shifting indoors to Oosterbaan (after being initially scheduled for the Big House), this could play a bit of a role. Expect some failed clears in both directions, because Brown is talented enough to force them in one direction, and because they’ll be a bit disoriented in Oosterbaan (as is often the case for visitors).

Brown has played in some really physical games this year, with double-digit combined EMOs in two of the three contests. Michigan is traditionally a clean team (whereas through three games, Brown is not), so the Wolverines should have the chance to play some with the man advantage. Unfortunately, Brown’s man-down defense has been fantastic thus far in 2015, so converting will be a tall task.

Big Picture

Before Tuesday’s clunker against Jacksonville, this would have been viewed as an opportunity to put the Maize and Blue firmly in the national discussion for the 2015 season. Instead, it’s a chance to continue building a solid (though less solid than it had the potential to be) non-conference record, and prepare to win enough games in Big Ten play to make the conference tournament.

Springing the upset would be big here, but make no mistake that it would indeed be an upset. U-M is a year away from avoiding the types of letdown games that Jacksonville was, and cementing itself as a top-20 team, rather than one that can compete to be on the fringe of that.

Predictions

Brown is really good, Michigan should come out angry in a comfortable home venue…

  • U-M will struggle offensively. I don’t believe they’ll be at full strength when it comes to their personnel in that phase of the game, and they’d need to be in order to do enough scoring to make up for a likely possession deficit while keeping pace with Brown.
  • That said, Michigan should be able to slow the game down to a degree. After a couple years trying to do that while under-manned, they’ve upped the pace. Against Brown, that’s not going to be the path to a win. Look for some zone defense (expecting Logan to – as he’s capable – carry the D) to bog things down on that end of the field, and while they won’t play stall-ball on the other side, some very patient offense.
  • In the possession game, look for Michigan’s ride to frustrate Brown a bit should the Wolverines try to implement it. Oosterbaan Fieldhouse has given them more opportunities to use a heavy ride than they might otherwise have, and if nothing else, forcing the Bears to use plenty of clock to clear will slow things down.
  • I have no idea what to expect on faceoffs. Michigan has a very good specialist, but one who is capable of struggling if things start to go poorly. Brown seems to be in a similar boat, but has more bullets in the chamber. Look for Michigan to go with LSM Chase Brown at times to slow things down on draws and try to get wins, but more importantly settle the defense.

I might have come close to picking the upset if not for Michigan’s egg laid against Jacksonville. Indoors, they’re a better team (when not playing Notre Dame, at least), and Brown’s gaudy scorelines have been accomplished through exploiting some advantages – namely possession – that Michigan would normally be able to limit. However, I have to go with the head on this one, and though they’ll be held t0 a season-low offensive output, Brown wins 15-9.

Share your predictions, discussion, etc. in the comments.

Posted in division 1, previews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Michigan Preview: Jacksonville

No rest for the SPRING BREAKers, Michigan right back in action for a mid-week game against Jacksonville, the first roadie of the year for the Maize and Blue.

Jacksonville

Jacksonville University Dolphins Lacrosse

Fear Flipper!

March 3, 2015. 7 p.m. EST
Jacksonville, Fla.
Live stats. ESPN3.
@UMichLacrosse.
Michigan Preview.
Jacksonville preview. .pdf notes.

Tempo-Free Profile

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, but since JU has played just two games thus far, not ready quite yet. I’ll note the key differences from last year at the end of this section.

Jacksonville 2014
Pace 65.00 (28)
Poss% 46.39 (57)
Off. Eff. 31.24 (30)
Def. Eff. 35.44 (52)
Pyth% 30.16 (54)

Jacksonville played at a nice clip last year, just above the national average. Part of that was scoring goals at a nice clip while also having goals dumped on their face. Part of it was a ride/clear game that made tempo increase just a bit. Whatever it was, the Dolphins did not control much of the possession, and they were just outside of the bottom 10 nationally in that regard.

The offense was pretty good, albeit against some pretty poor teams (the numbers here are adjusted for the No. 54 strength of schedule nationally). They scored a lot of goals on bad teams – and their bad defenses – and hit double-digits in a six-goal loss to Duke. They also scored just a pair on Ohio State.

Defensively, the Dolphins were bad (and against bad competition) last season. Opponents scored on more than a third of their possessions, and the only teams JU held to single-digits – remember, at an average pace, where a 10-goal game is pretty nice for the national average – were VMI, Marquette, and in a pair of losses, High Point and Bellarmine.

Through two games this season, the Dolphins have turned things around in a big way on faceoffs, where they’re very good, but the offense has joined the defense in plummeting near the bottom of the national ranks. With two games of data (especially a blowout loss and a close win over poor competition), there’s not a ton to be gleaned from it.

Offense

Last year’s leading scorer by a wide margin was attack Tom Moore (27 goals, 12 assists), and he’s the second-leading point-getter through two games, with a pair of goals and three assists. Brother Rob, a a year older (senior) and fellow starting attackman, had 17 goals and 10 assists, and is at a goal and three assists thus far this season.

Last year’s second-leading scorer, Duncan Clancy, has departed, and with him went 12 goals and 17 assists to lead the team. In his stead, there’s an apparent sharing of the… uh… sharing duties, with both Moores assisting plenty so far this year.

One player without many assists? Sophomore attack Chase McIntyre, the team’s leading scorer with six goals so far this year. With nine goals to his name last year, he has 15 total points in his Jacksonville career, every one from finding the net himself, rather than dishing out a ball. He’s the pure finisher, and will get his share of opportunities to do that against Michigan.

Junior midfielder Dakota Rohlin has three goals and an assist himself, another primarily-finishing player with a little more diversity to his game (16 and 7 last year). Fellow midfielder Conor Igoe played in just one game last year, and is back as a fifth-year senior. He has two goals and two assists to his name thus far in 2015, and will be another player to watch.

Given Michigan’s talent on close defense (pretty good, not exceptional) and in net (very good in the form of Gerald Logan), the Wolverines should be able to limit good chances for the Dolphins, There will still be some opportunities, but I wouldn’t expect a scoring part to break out.

Defense

Defensively, the Dolphins look like they’ll struggle for the second year in a row. They gave up 20 goals in 35 possessions to Army (a mind-numbing .571 efficiency mark), and even St. Johns put up 11 in just 23 possessions. That’s bad, in personal e-pinion. The Johnnies’ second-best offensive output this season was .361 in a weird upset of Stony Brook.

Jacksonville’s decent keeper from last year, Pete DeLuca, has moved on, but the Dolphins are pretty settled on junior Bass Barfield between the pipes. He struggled mightily against Army, and has already faced 51 shots on goal through two games (saving .412 of them). It’s hard to know how much of it was his fault in an absolute offensive onslaught by the Black Knights, but it ain’t good no matter what.

The close defense isn’t exactly inexperienced, either, with senior Austin Curtis earning both starts alongside junior Ray Bannister, with senior Ben Carter and freshman Tucket Guyot splitting starts at the other spot. They just got it taken to them by a good offense in Army and a mediocre offense in St. John’s. It’s not a particularly aggressive defense either, with Curtis leading the squad in caused turnovers with two.

Joining Curtis atop the CT leaderboard is SSDM Jet Harding, also the team’s leader in GBs. He’s taken a couple faceoffs (losing both), but his primary duty has been to work the opponents’ midfielders in the settled D. It hasn’t actually been that much of a struggle, with Army doing most of its damage working through the attack.

Of course, Michigan has a balanced offense with strong attackmen and some good dodging midfielders, so a bad Jacksonville defense is really up against the ropes in this one.

Special Teams

Other than Harding (who really just came in to stop the bleeding against Army), the primary faceoff specialist duties have been split. Long-stick Pat Ryan is right around .500 (most of those attempts against the Black Knights), but sophomore Sam Rosengarden has been the primary specialist. He was around .500 against the Black Knights himself, but worked over St. John’s – actually a decent faceoff team otherwise – to the tune of 19/23. With Michigan’s talented-but-mercurial Brad Lott and a host of other specialists available, something better than .500 is a reasonable goal. Patrick McEwen’s faceoff ratings on IL had Rosengarden a couple spots behind Lott in the national rankings before the weekend’s domination of St. John’s.

Jacksonville’s clear has taken a big step back this year (again, just a couple games of evidence, so don’t put too much stock into it quite yet), while the Dolphins haven’t emphasized the ride yet in the first couple outings. Michigan’s clear is right around average nationally, and while the ride has been good, I don’t expect that to be quite as strong in the first game away from Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. There’s still something to exploit there.

Jacksonville has had a decent chance to shoot on the man-up – 10 opportunities through just two games – but has only converted a pair of them. This is not a killer EMO. They were 0/3 against Army and 2/7 against St. John’s. On the other end of the spectrum, the Red Storm converted 2/5 and Army converted 1/4. Not a huge disparity in penalties overall.

Big Picture

Jacksonville isn’t a very good team, and Michigan should be able to handle them easily, based on what we’ve seen from each team so far this year. There are some factors playing against the Maize and Blue – first game away from home, and in fact first game outside of Oosterbaan Fieldhouse – that could result in a slow start.

This is a must-win game in order to build up a solid non-conference resume, more so because it would be a killer loss than it’s a quality win. Other than Sunday’s Brown game, the non-conference schedule should be a sweep.

Predictions

Should-win, must-win.

  • I look for a break-even on faceoffs until we have more robust data on both Michigan and Jacksonville. Michigan has had great games and serious struggles at that spot, and while I’d expect success more often than not, you just don’t know.
  • Michigan should have a really efficient offensive day. Jacksonville’s defense is bad, and U-M – while they probably aren’t on Army’s level – might be more comparable to the Black Knights than St. John’s. JU hasn’t stopped anyone yet, and Michigan shouldn’t be an exception.
  • I’m less sure what to expect defensively from the Maize and Blue. JU hasn’t been good in either game thus far, but they clearly have a bit of talent – and many of the same players who were on OK offense last year. First road-game jitters for Michigan and the Dolphins jelling a bit could combine for a less-than stellar defensive performance.
  • All that said, on the basis of available evidence, there’s no reason to expect this one to be particularly close, unless everything goes really poorly. Just about everything would have to go wrong at once for it to result in a loss, however.

Good team v. bad team, even in the house of the bad team, usually goes good team’s way. If Michigan can dominate possession (possible, but not a guarantee), this should get out of hand extremely early. Either way, competitive past halftime would be a disappointment. Michigan wins it, 17-7.

Share your predictions, discussion, etc. in the comments.

Posted in division 1, previews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Detroit Preview: Bellarmine

Heavily re-purposing the previous Bellarmine preview. Michigan took on the Knights a couple weeks back. Detroit does this afternoon. Hopefully the result – a convincing win – will be the same.

Bellarmine

Bellarmine Knights lacrosse

Fear the stylized Knights!

March 1, 2015. 3:30 p.m. EST
Louisville, Ky.
Live stats. Live video.
Detroit Preview. .pdf notes.
Bellarmine Preview.

Tempo-Free Profile

The TempoFreeLax.com numbers displayed here are last year’s, though this is probably the last time I’ll have to do that. The statistical library is growing robust enough (with many schools through about a third of their regular-season schedule (in February (SPRING SPORT)) we’ll clean up the data and have it fully presentable in short order), and after Tuesday’s Michigan-Jacksonville game, it’ll be full-go on 2015 stats..

Bellarmine 2014
Pace 62.67 (43)
Poss% 49.87 (40)
Off. Eff. 28.63 (48)
Def. Eff. 28.92 (21)
Pyth% 48.81 (31)

Bellarmine was not a fast team last year, nor did the Knights do a good job controlling the ball. that means not a whole lot of offensive possessions…

And they didn’t do a whole lot with those, either. Offensive efficiency was their worst aspect last season. They had solid games last year, but many of them against very poor defenses.

Fortunately, given that many of the (few) possessions in their games came in the sticks of the opposition, they had a very good defense. They held eight of 12 opponents to single digits, though thanks to that anemic offense, they still lost one such game and all four when the opposition cracked 10.

Offense

From the last time out:

Although Bellarmine was picked to win the conference in the inaugural year of the Southern, they are clearly not expected to do it with offense. Onetime Michigan attack commit, sophomore Austin Shanks is their only pre-season all-conference player on that side of the ball (oddly listed at midfielder, a position he is not expected to play for the Knights this year).

Shanks was the No. 3 scorer for the team last year, with fellow freshman Tucker Ciessau one of those beating him out. Now sophomores, they should be the deadly duo. Both were much more finishers than feeders last year, with a 4:1-ish ratio between goals and assists for each.

The Nos. 2 and 4 leading scorers both departed, leaving senior midfielder Ryan Scinta as the only other returning double-digit point scorer. The offense was very concentrated among five guys, with the attackmen finishing and the midfielders feeding. Scinta will have to have linemates step up, and the attackmen may need to be a little more versatile.

Jack Perkins, a sophomore A/M, has stepped up to be the clear second-leading scorer. Ciessau and Scinta aren’t far behind, but it’s clear that Shanks is the straw that stirs the drink here.

Defense

Again, from the earlier Bellarmine preview:

Bellarmine boasts two defensive players on the preseason all-conference list in close defender Colin Hart and LSM Bobby Schmitt (the latter of whom could be the best player in the conference this side of High Point keeper Austin Giesler, in personal e-pinion). Schmitt is also a threat offensively, with seven assists and 16 shots – though no goals – last year.

Top SSDM Reid Wesley is back, and another major contributor (when healthy last year, at least) Ben Plisco is just a junior, so he could take another step forward. Two losses and returning a conference player of the year candidate on that side of the ball probably isn’t bad.

Schmitt has been limited by injury, and hasn’t recorded a stat yet this year. The only game he saw any action was against Michigan. Hart has been leading the defense.

Goalie Drew Goethals has been pretty good thus far – .521 save% though with 11.41 goals against per game (so, uh, that defense without Schmitt? Good or nah?) – and Bellarmine will have to rely on him until Schmitt is back in the lineup, most likely.

Special Teams

Once more, with feeling:

Bellarmine was so bad on faceoffs last year, winning just 42.68% (No. 52 nationally), including a 3/24 performance against Louisville native Brad Lott last year – one that could be pretty comfortably blamed for losing the Knights the game, given the close score. The best of bad options (Stephen Soriano) has graduated, but little-used Grant Beczkalo put up slightly better numbers albeit with a smaller sample size, so there might not be too much of a step back (also because there isn’t a whole lot of room to move in that direction). GB play has been Michigan’s bigger faceoff issue in the past year-plus though, so Schmitt will have to be controlled in this phase of the game.

Tyler Nangle has taken over on faceoffs after Beczkalo was pretty bad to start the year. He’s been decent – .550 in a limited sample size – but almost all of the positives came against a bad Robert Morris team, with struggles in the other couple games.

The Knights cleared at an elite level last year – again, great to have an outstanding LSM – second-best in the nation. With most of the short-stick midfielders and Schmitt returning, that should continue. Bellarmine is also one of the few teams nationally that puts more than a token effort into riding nowadays, so that aggression let them harass opponents into fails on nearly 15% of attempts.

Schmitt out, clear suffers. They’re still riding relatively well, but (especially in the Michigan game – a totally different circumstance in Oosterbaan, etc.) they’ve occasionally had a rough time getting out of their own end.

Bellarmine committed barely more penalties than opponents last year, so their style of play (except in contrast to Michigan’s relatively clean brand) doesn’t put them at a disadvantage. They did not score very well on the EMO, and gave up some goals man-down, so when things are uneven, it could be a slight advantage Michigan.

That’s unchanged for the most part, though Bellarmine has been charged with a few more infractions this year than last (they’re bordering on “dirty team” territory early in the year, though most of the penalties have been technical violations).

Big Picture

This is a non-conference opponent UDM has a good chance to beat, so doing that would be nice. That’s a hot sports take if there’s ever been one.

As I’ve said, most of the non-conference is going to be irrelevant to the season-long goals of the team (make the NCAA Tournament, something only the MAAC’s autobid will be able to achieve for them), but piling up the wins when you can get them builds confidence and improves reputation for this year’s team and beyond.

Using this game to prepare for the conference schedule is the more important factor, but you’re crazy if you don’t think UDM is trying to win it. Winning two of the next three (Bellarmine, Mercer, Air Force) going into conference play would give a strong chance to end the year with a winning record, as along as the MAAC goes according to plan.

Predictions

Detroit has two one-goal victories at home and indoors. They have two blowout losses away from the friendly confines of Ultimate Soccer Arenas…

  • I think Bellarmine is able to control possession to a degree. They have a faceoff specialist who is above-average, and although I don’t think the majority of UDM’s faceoff issues fall on the FOGOs, there’s an ongoing difficulty in winning the GB, even if they win the clamp. With Ben Gjokaj missing the last few games, there are also limited bullets in the chamber if things don’t go well.
  • The Bellarmine defense has really struggled without Schmitt in the lineup (and probably for other reasons, but Schmitt’s absence is an important one of them). Detroit has some firepower on offense, with a variety of attackmen – ball-carriers, feeders, and finishers – and a few midfielders who can bomb from outside. They should have a chance to convert on the offensive opportunities they do get.
  • The key will be slowing down the Bellarmine offense. It’s outstripped expectations this year, thanks in large part to the output of Shanks and emergence of Perkins. Detroit has let attackmen get inside – the only way Jason Weber’s going to get consistently beaten – and they have to slow that down to slow down the Knights’ O.
  • The penalty game could play a key role in this one. Detroit’s NCAA-record conversion rate last year was certainly built on some smoke and mirrors (and “playing Mercer, VMI, and Wagner, along with a MAAC schedule”). However, it still has the talent, and if Bellarmine consistently puts itself in tough situations, the Titans should convert. The thing is, Detroit has traditionally been penalty-prone as well, so there’s no telling which trend will hold out.

I think it’s clear that three of the teams in Louisville this weekend – Detroit, Bellarmine, and Ohio State – are approximately equal in overall quality (UDM beat the Buckeyes by one, OSU beat Bellarmine by one – obviously the transitive property doesn’t exist, but  lose games are close games) with Marquette standing above the pack. However, Detroit’s advantage inside Ultimate Soccer is gone. If UDM played Ohio State five more times, I don’t think they’d win half those games – and maybe not any. Bellarmine, playing at home, takes the 12-9 win.

Share your predictions, discussion, etc. in the comments.

Posted in division 1, previews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Michigan Preview: Canisius

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.

Canisius

Canisius College Griffins Lacrosse

Fear the Griffin!

Feb. 28, 2015. 1 p.m. EST
Oosterbaan Fieldhouse
Live stats.
@UMichLacrosse.
Michigan Preview.
Canisius Preview. .pdf notes.

Tempo-Free Profile

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.

Canisius 2014
Pace 55.87 (65)
Poss% 51.31 (19)
Off. Eff. 29.09 (45)
Def. Eff. 33.14 (43)
Pyth% 43.99 (39)

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.

Offense

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.

Defense

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)…

Special Teams

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.

Big Picture

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.

Predictions

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.

Share your predictions, discussion, etc. in the comments.

Posted in division 1, previews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Next Level: Feb. 27, 2015

Our weekly look at Michigan natives who are playing college lacrosse at division-1 institutions this spring.

Binghamton 9, Marist 12

  • Freshman midfielder Liam Reaume (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Canisius 8, Furman 9
Canisius 6, Air Force 13

  • Freshman midfielder Keith Pravato (Novi) – Did not see game action
  • Sophomore midfielder Steve Wizniuk (De La Salle) – Did not see game action.

Delaware 11, Mount St. Mary’s 10

  • Senior defenseman Bennett Packer (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Detroit 11, Robert Morris 10 (OT)

  • Senior midfield/attack Brandon Beauregard (Notre Dame Prep) – Started, scored two Goals on three Shots (all on goal), added two Assists, and picked up one ground ball. Also committed four turnovers.
  • Sophomore attack Kyle Beauregard (Notre Dame Prep) – Started and scored three Goals – including the game-winner – on six Shots (three on goal).
  • Senior midfielder Mike Birney (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started, scored a Goal on four Shots (three on goal), added two Assists, and picked up three ground balls. Also committed two turnovers.
  • Freshman midfielder Sean Birney (Detroit Catholic Central) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Senior midfielder Scott Drummond (Birmingham Seaholm) – Started, recorded an Assists, took six Shots (three on goal), and picked up two ground balls. Also committed one turnover.
  • Sophomore goalie Connor Flynn (Rockford) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior defenseman Joe Gifford (Notre Dame Prep) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Redshirt freshman attack Alex Gilhooly (Detroit Catholic Central) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Sophomore midfielder Ben Gjokaj (Walled Lake Central) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore midfielder Brad Harris (Saline) – Scored a Goal on two Shots (one on goal). Also committed two turnovers.
  • Freshman midfielder Charlie Hayes (Utica Eisenhower) – Played, but only made the scoresheet by committing one penalty for 0:30.
  • Junior midfielder Andy Hebden (Brother Rice) – Took one Shot on goal and picked up one ground ball.
  • Sophomore LSM JD Hess (Birmingham Seaholm) – Caused one turnover. Also committed two penalties for 2:00.
  • Sophomore attack/midifeld Connor Maks (UD-Jesuit) – Played, but only made the scoresheet by committing one turnover.
  • Sophomore midfielder Greg Marzec (Brother Rice) – Picked up one ground ball. Also committed one turnover.
  • Redshirt freshman defenseman Bryan Matney (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Freshman midfielder Chris Perry (Utica Eisenhower) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Freshman LSM Austin Ross (Warren Mott) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior midfielder Thomas Sible (Forest Hills Central) – Picked up one ground ball. Also committed one turnover.
  • Freshman midfielder Brett Spanski (Traverse City Central) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Travis Sparling (Novi) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Mike Spuller (Dexter) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Redshirt freshman attack Adam Susalla (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior defenseman Jordan Yono (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started, caused one turnover, and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one turnover.

Marquette 11, Richmond 10 (OT)

  • Junior midfielder K.C. Kennedy (Brother Rice) – Won 13/23 faceoffs, picking up five ground balls.
  • Junior attack Henry Nelson (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Michigan 8, Notre Dame 17

  • Sophomore faceoff specialist Brian Archer (Brighton) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior defenseman Mack Gembis (Cranbrook) – Started, caused two turnovers, and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one turnover.
  • Junior midfielder Riley Kennedy (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior attack Will Meter (Brother Rice) – Started, scored two Goals on four Shots (all on goal), added an Assist, and picked up two ground balls.
  • Senior midfielder Thomas Orr (Detroit Catholic Central) – Played, but only made the scoresheet by committing one turnover.
  • Junior defenseman Chris Walker (Brother Rice) – Started, caused two turnovers, and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one penalty for 1:00.

NJIT 4, Stony Brook 18

  • Freshman midfielder Brent Lubin (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Did not see game action.

Notre Dame 17, Michigan 8

  • Sophomore midfielder Sergio Perkovic (Brother Rice) – Started and scored two Goals on five Shots (four on goal). Also committed one turnover.

Penn 7, Marland 11

  • Sophomore goalie Ahmed Iftikhar (Detroit Country Day) – Did not see game action.

Providence 12, Vermont 9

  • Freshman midfielder Joshua Keller (East Grand Rapids) – Took one Shot. Also committed one turnover.

Providence 7, Boston University 4

  • Freshman midfielder Joshua Keller (East Grand Rapids) – Did not see game action.

Richmond 10, Marquette 11 (OT)

  • Sophomore attack JP Forester (Brother Rice) – Started, scored a Goal on two Shots (one on goal), added two Assists, and picked up three ground balls.

Robert Morris 10, Detroit 11 (OT)

  • Sophomore attack Kento Nakano (Rockford) – Did not see game action.

Rutgers 5, Virginia 14

  • Junior midfielder Jacob Coretti (East Grand Rapids) – Did not see game action

Rutgers 13, Wagner 10

  • Junior midfielder Jacob Coretti (East Grand Rapids) – Played, but only made the scoresheet by committing one turnover.

VMI 3, St. Joseph’s 11

  • Senior midfielder Andrew Erber (Dexter) – Did not see game action.

Yale 10, Maryland 6

  • Sophomore midfielder John Lazarsfeld (Ann Arbor Greenhills) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman midfielder Jason Alessi – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

As always, discussion, corrections, and statlines from other divisions can be shared in the comments.

Posted in division 1 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Detroit Preview: Marquette

This is going to be a brief one. Game’s at 3:30, and I’m on a time crunch. Also: haven’t even recapped last weekend’s games, or done the latest Next Level feature.

Marquette

Marquette Golden Eagles Lacrosse logo

Not many good Marquette lacrosse logos available on the internet :/

Feb. 27, 2015. 3:30 p.m. EST
Louisville, Ky.
Live stats. Live video.
@DetroitTitans.
Detroit Preview. .pdf notes.
Marquette preview.

Tempo-Free Profile

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. I’ll also add some notes from this year’s squad to the end of this section to make up for it a bit.

Marquette 2014
Pace 58.38 (59)
Poss% 47.75 (52)
Off. Eff. 34.07 (19)
Def. Eff. 35.86 (54)
Pyth% 39.24 (45)

Marquette was slow and didn’t have a lot of the ball last year. That means very few offensive possessions, but also not a ton of defensive ones.

One thing they did was turn those offensive possessions into goals at a pretty reasonable rate. They had a good offense (more about it in a moment).

The defense, however, was really bad. It was just outside the national bottom-10, and when opponents are getting much more of the ball than you anyway, it’s a recipe for disaster.

For this year’s marks, Marquette is slightly above average on both offense and defense. They’re an early-season media darling with a 3-0 record, but all three victories have been by one goal (even against mediocre teams – the TFL numbers love Hofstra because they blew out Manhattan, but when everyone else on the Jaspers’ schedule does the same, they’ll normalize a bit).

Offense

The offense is led by junior attack Conor Gately, a Tewaaraton candidate… who isn’t within four points of his team’s leading scorer. Gately has as many asissts (five) as leading scorer Jordan Greenfield, but only six goals to Greenfield’s 10. Greenfield is a sophomore middie who seems to be doing much more for the Marquette offense – though obviously some of Gately’s contributions don’t show up in the statbook.

Junior midfielder Kyle Whitlow is third on teh team in scoring with six goals and three assists, with sophomore middie Ryan McNamara (three and one) and junior middie Blaine Fleming (two and two) rounding out the serious scoring threats.

That’s five leading scorers and only one attackman, which means 1) Gately is doing a lot of the ball-carrying duties for the Eagles’ offense 2) there’s probably some positional versatility there, and 3) this is a midfield-driven offense, outside of Gately’s contributions.

Sophomore attack Kylan Clarke has started all three games, but has just two assists to show for it. To a certain extent, the stats just aren’t robust enough to draw any sweeping conclusions.

Defense

Marquette has made big stride on D from last year, albeit not having played a team yet that was actually good on O in 2014 (though the schedule looks generally devoid of those types of teams this season, with a couple exceptions).

Sophomore Jimmy Danaher has been the only player to see time between the pipes thus far, with a pretty good .540 save percentage and a just-OK 9.61 goals-against average. He was the primary starter last year, and both of those marks are pretty significant improvements over his performance in 2014.

Senior Logan Tousaw and redshirt juniors B.J. Grill and Dan Mojica have started all three games on close D so far. None has really done anything statistically notable thus far, and they’re actually allowing more shots on goal per game than the defense did last year (Danaher’s improvement is either the driving force behind defensive improvement, or they’re giving him easier saves to make).

I would expect that a really good offensive team could give this defense more trouble than they’ve seen so far.

Special Teams

Brother Rice alum K.C. Kennedy is a pretty good faceoff guy, winning .538 so far and picking up a GB on 39.2% of his wins (unfortunately, a factor that is only descriptive to true FOGOs, since multi-dimensional midfielders are going to get a wider range of all sorts of ground balls, not just off faceoffs). Freshman Owen Weselak has gotten about a quarter of attempts, and is right at .500 so far.

Marquette’s clear is terrible (especially against the competition they’ve faced, though Lehigh has been a decent riding team), and that’s something Detroit can exploit, especially with its occasional tendency to pressure. Marquette is just above-average in the ride, but against an iffy clear like Detroit’s has been at times, that might be good enough to garner an advantage.

Marquette has been pretty clean this year relative to opponents, but their games overall have had quite a few penalties on both sides. Against Detroit, look for that to continue. MU hasn’t allowed many goals on the rare man-down opportunities they’ve given up, and have had a decent-not-great EMO.

Big Picture

Detroit has put together a nice early-season resume, with the only loss coming against Michigan. The win over Ohio State is an outstanding pelt to have collected, and the current “new program media darling” would be another one.

In the grand scheme, as I’ve said about Detroit, collecting wins is primarily to prepare for the MAAC schedule and to build up some good vibes. In terms of reaching the postseason, they won’t be able to do enough (unless a lot of UDM’s non-conference opponents have unbelievably good years) to make the tournament a possibility through any method other than the conference auto-bid.

Predictions

In case it’s unclear, I’m not super-sold on Marquette. That said, they aren’t playing the ’85 Bears, either.

  • Golden Eagles dominate on faceoffs, but don’t get too much transition offense to show for it.
  • With a midfield-heavy offense, they play into Detroit’s defense in a way, because a good keeper (as Jason Weber certainly is) should have an easier time stopping bombs from outside than all sorts of attackman trickery.
  • That’s what makes Conor Gately the key player in this game. Limit his contributions both scoring and feeding, and Detroit should be able to slow down the Marquette offense.
  • On the other side of the ball, it might sound crazy, but I think Detroit will probably be the stiffest test to date for MU. They certainly have the variety of weapons (especially with young standout Mark Anstead stepping up as a serious complement to Shayne Adams on the first attack) to make some hay.
  • This should see a lot of penalties. Both teams are and have been susceptible to infractions.

Based on what they’ve done thus far in the regular season, I’m not big on Marquette. However, I also saw Michigan treat Detroit like they didn’t belong on the same field, and this Marquette team handled Michigan relatively well in scrimmage action (with the caveats that come from that format, of course). I think Marquette is the better team, but Detroit is better than they showed against Michigan. Golden Eagles take this one, 12-11.

Share your predictions, discussion, etc. in the comments.

Posted in division 1, previews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Michigan Preview: Notre Dame

Michigan gets a chance to back up one of its wins from last year. It would be the second opponent over whom the Wolverines have more than one win (Mercer is the other).

Bellarmine

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Lacrosse Logo

Classic stick design

Feb. 21, 2015. 1 p.m. EST
Oosterbaan Fieldhouse
Live stats. Audio.
@UMichLacrosse. @UofMLaxManagers.
Michigan preview. .pdf notes.
Notre Dame preview.

Tempo-Free Profile

The TempoFreeLax.com numbers displayed here are last year’s, because Notre Dame has played even fewer games than Michigan. Their lone contest thus far was a win last week against Georgetown. With just one (close) win against a team for whom that was also the only game by nature puts the Irish at the middle of the Tempo-Free table. They won’t be there for long.

Notre Dame 2014
Pace 65.50 (26)
Poss% 50.30 (35)
Off. Eff. 37.50 (9)
Def. Eff. 26.24 (5)
Pyth% 75.83 (6)

Notre Dame played at a reasonably quick tempo for a power team – who tend to play slowly unless they’re dominant in the possession game or really productive on offense. The Irish were very much not the former, and were in fact near the middle of the nation when it comes to possessing the rock.

What they were is elite on both settled ends of the field. The Irish have been known for strong defense, and last year was no exception. They had a top-five unit on that side of the ball.

Offensively, they’ve been a bit more pedestrian over the years, and that’s where they took some nice steps in 2014 – with reason to believe they’ll continue this season. More about that once you get through the next heading…

Offense

Matt Kavanaugh and Sergio Perkivoc (product of Brother Rice and unfortunate possessor of one of the worst nicknames in sports, “Motor City Hitman”) are a couple of the country’s top players at their respective positions. Kavanaugh is a jitterbug attackman who had 42 goals and 33 assists last year, capable of doing it all. Perkovic is an outside-bombing midfielder who’s added some serious versatility – particularly with his off-hand – in a couple years with the Irish. He had 28 goals and five assists last year, and already boasts three goals and two assists in 2015.

That’s not where Notre Dame’s offense begins and ends, however. Attackman Conor Doyle was the second-leading scorer behind Kavanaugh last year, and already has a goal and two assists this season. Fifth-year midfielder Jim Marlatt had 22 points, with a slight bias toward scoring, rather than assisting.

Midfielders Nick Ossello (also a faceoff specialist) and Jack Near also return, along with attack Eddy Lubowicki. That’s every double-digit point-scorer from last year except for attackman John Scioscia, who, to be fair, was the team’s second-leading scorer. This is a talented, deep offensive group, and one that returns almost entirely intact from last year.

Notre Dame should have a heck of an offense this year.

Defense

On the other hand, giving up 12 goals on 38 possessions (.316) to Georgetown (proud owners of the sixth-worst offense in the country last year) is not a super-great sign about the Irish. The offense is going to have to put up big numbers, because the defense should take a step back.

Stephen O’Hara departs after a first-team All-America performance last year, and fellow starter Brian Buglione has also graduated. That’s a big hit.  Garrett Epple is a sophomore who started seven games last year, and junior Matt Landis is expected to be one of the best poles in the country (preseason third-team All-American according to IL). However, they haven’t been able to make the keeper feel comfortable just yet.

That’s led to some really bad numbers for the goalies, even though the two who played against Georgetown are the same platoon that was available to the Irish last year. Conor Kelly was the more often used (and better, with a .505 save percentage) keeper last year, but was chased against the Hoyas after saving just five of 13 shots faced. Shane Doss was better more because of less rubber faced than anything else, saving three of seven shots against.

If Michigan can exploit the personnel turnover in the close defense to find some openings inside – and they have the talent to do that with Ian King and David McCormack, and the midfielders to stretch the field a bit with Mikie Schlosser and David Joseph – these goalies aren’t going to bail out their defense often.

Special Teams

If Michigan is to get a win, it will have to come through limiting Notre Dame’s opportunities to score – because if they get those chances, they will turn them into goals. Fortunately, excellent faceoff specialist Liam O’Conno has graduated, meaning the Irish don’t have a surefire dominator. Nick Ossello was last year’s primary backup, but struggled in a big way against Georgetown (and was a sub-.500 guy last year anyway). Sophomore P.J. Finley entered and did very well. Georgetown is trotting out a new specialist this year, so it’s undetermined just how strong the competition was for that duo.

Notre Dame was about average in clears last year, and through one game, is middle-of-the-pack again this year. Given that Georgetown has been a heavy-ride team (but one less talented than many of the ACC teams Notre Dame faces during the regular season), I would guess they’ll be about average this year.

Notre Dame has been a great riding team, and it looks like, through one game, they intend to keep that up. They rode the Hoyas into fails on a quarter of their attempts. Michigan seems to have the talent to improve its clearing, so this will be a strong test.

Notre Dame was the beneficiary of many more man-up opportunities than opponents last year, but Michigan has been a clean team through three years (and two games) as well. The Irish were absolutely ruthless in converting on EMO – which I guess is expected with their level of offensive talent – so a key for Michigan will be to not put itself into man-down situations.

Big Picture

The Wolverines were expected to win their first two games, sure, but the manner in which they did so certainly indicates they’re making more progress this season than they did over the first three years of the program (perhaps combined). If they were to get an upset over Notre Dame, it would be a strong indication that they’re easily a top-20 team this year, and could contend to make not only the Big Ten conference tournament, but also challenge for an NCAA bid.

Of course, that win will be a tall task, to say the very least. The Irish are really good at intercollegiate lacrosse, and Michigan isn’t there yet. U-M wants to make its stamp on the lacrosse world, and this is a chance to do that. With a tough schedule, there will be others, as well. A big non-conference pelt (most of the remaining tough games come in Big Ten play) would be huge.

Preview from Notre Dame blog One Foot Down.

Predictions

This is one heck of a game early in the season, as long as Michigan is able to back up its performance from the first two games…

  • The biggest key in the game for Michigan, as noted above, will be to win the possession battle. They have to clear better than most teams do against the Irish. Riding their way into a turnover or two would be nice. But the biggest task is to win on faceoffs. Brad Lott has been streaky already this season, and he can’t let one loss on a draw snowball in to four or five more in a row. The wing players for Michigan will be challenged – Notre Dame has great ball skills at LSM and in the midfielder – and they have just as important a job as Lott.
  • The reason possession is so important? Notre Dame gon’ score. I don’t see Michigan – even if Gerald Logan has a great game, which he must for U-M to have a chance – holding the Irish below .350 offensive efficiency. There’s just too much offensive talent in South Bend, and not yet quite enough in Ann Arbor, to say “oh, this elite offense will be slowed down.”
  • On the other end, I think Michigan has a chance to score some goals of its own, but living up to the Irish’s offensive efficiency is a pipe dream (hence the important of the possession game). The Notre Dame goalies are mediocre at best, and finding the windows to shoot on them should see a lot of rubber thrown their way.
  • Ian King’s diversified offensive game, along with a weakened Notre Dame defensive unit, should see him have opportunities to both score and feed. Michigan has initiated through both attack and midfield (primarily Mikie Schlosser) this year, and having the chance to do either is a key to beating an inexperienced defensive front.

The more I look at this game, the less I think it’s going to be an Irish blowout. The ND offense is nothing short of elite – it could challenge for one of the best in the nation this year – but everything else on the team seems varying degrees of “only pretty good” down to “a serious question mark thus far.” Some of those questions marks, particularly goaltending and faceoffs, are rife for exploitation by Michigan. U-M is still a year away from really having expectations to win this one, but they’ll be close enough that it’s not out of the question. Notre Dame takes it, 14-11.

Share your predictions, discussion, etc. in the comments.

Posted in division 1, previews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment