As broken down the other day, this game doesn’t mean much to Detroit’s entry into the MAAC Tournament. In fact, it doesn’t have much of an effect on who they’ll play, either. They’ll be the 2- or 3- seed against Marist, or the 2-seed against Jacksonville or Canisius. However, in terms of separating themselves from the middle of the pack, this game can help Detroit take another step forward as a program.
2 p.m. EST April 28, 2012
3-11 (1-6 MAAC). #59 Laxpower, #56 Tempo-Free.
Raw numbers from the VMI season, and the adjusted numbers below come from the tempo-free database.
|Faceoff Wins||202||Faceoff Wins||110|
|Offensive Efficiency||.235||Offensive Efficiency||.376|
Thanks to the spectacular Stephen Robarge, VMI is absolutely dominating possession – they’re fifth-best in the country when it comes to percentage there. Their ride is poor and their clear is only mediocre, but dominating at the dot has helped them run up a huge advantage.
That only serves to make it more sad that they’re so inept in every phase of offense and defense. They have the third-worst defense and fourth-worst offense in the country, adjusted for opponent strength. Their only wins are over hapless Wagner, hapless Mercer, and a Manhattan team whose five wins include those two hapless squads, awful Binghamton and Providence teams, and… uh… Detroit.
Experimental use of more tempofreelax.com features, go!:
(Ignore the EMO rates, there’s an issue with the data there. If anything else seems buggy, drop a comment so we can work on a fix).
One player stands out above the rest on the VMI offense, and that’s senior midfielder Keith Long. He has 40 points on the year, producing pretty evenly between goals (22) and assists (18). He’s a big guy at 6-3, 210, and the primary creator on the team.
The next three leading scorers are the starting attackmen, and they’re finishers above all else. They’re all over six feet tall too, so these aren’t jitterbug, dodging, creator-types, either. Senior Drew Leonard has 21 goals and two assists, junior Russell East has 16 goals and six assists, and freshman Mike DeBlasio has 15 goals and three assists.
There’s a sizable drop before the next group of scorers – the aforementioned four are your dangermen – and it includes one starting offensive midfielder (senior Chris Kitchen, with six goals and two assists), two guys who are listed at attack but probably have played mostly midfield this year (junior Bernie Mowbray and sophomore Mickey Hofmeister), and the FOGO, Robarge.
Outside of the top few guys, this is not a dangerous offensive lineup. I also think it’s a good matchup for UDM, who can stick their outstanding LSM, Jordan Houtby, on the only dangerous midfielder, and play the three attackmen with the starting defenders.
We already know the VMI defense is bad (like really bad), but their personnel is still important to know.
Senior Kyle Hofstetter and sophomore Rory Dillon have started each and every game for the Keydets. They also lead the team among non-faceoff guys in ground balls. Hofstetter has the honor being the only player on the team to cause double-digit turnovers to this point.
The third defenseman is something of a mystery. Freshmen Jack Pease and Ty Trobridge seem to be the most-frequently used players who are still available. Neither has done anything of note statistically.
The LSM role has been split between junior Taylor Jenkins and freshman Tyler Prasnicki – the only players on the team at that position, if the roster is to be believed. The Keydets have some excellent (or, given the defense’s performance, I should probably say “productive”) defensive midfielders in Will Baker and Chris Rossie. Rossie has taken a few faceoffs – and done poorly on them – and is second on the team in ground balls, which leads me to believe he’s also one of the primary wing players on Robarge’s draws. Baker has six caused turnovers and 25 GBs on the year. Neither has taken a shot.
Between the pipes, VMI has tried a trio of players, with little success. Enormous (6-5) junior Matt Lindemann is by far the best statistically, with a .580 save percentage and “only” 10.39 goals against. He’s started and played the most games, with five and six, respectively.
Kelly McMinn is listed in the stats but not on the roster – hello, kicked off the team midseason – and though he had an awful GAA of 14.99, he actually had the second-best save percentage. Junior J Rice saves a dismal .439 of shots faced. Lindemann has gone the distance in the past five games – and played the majority of the previous in relief of Rice – and is likely the only keeper UDM will see.
This is where things could get really ugly for Detroit. VMI is the best faceoff team in the country, The Titans are one of the worst. Robarge should dominate, as he has just about everyone all year. He’s winning .670 of his faceoffs and picking up the ground ball on 60% of his wins. That’s the best in the nation, folks.
Other aspects of the possession game favor Detroit. They should be able to ride the mediocre VMI clear into a reasonable failure rate, and their own resistible force of a clear (No. 58 nationally) is going up against VMI’s eminently-movable object of a ride (No. 52).
In the penalty game, VMI and their opponents commit penalties at approximately the same rate, so going against the most penalty-prone team in the land, they should have a slight advantage. One potentially-important note: Hofstetter is by far the most naughty player on VMI’s team, so isolating him one-on-one can result in either a good shot (or feed) or a penalty.
As far as once those penalties are committed, VMI is worse at converting than opponents, and both teams are in the mid-.200s. No serious advantage either way, though VMI’s ability to make Detroit pay for their inevitable penalties won’t be so dangerous as to make the Titans play scared.
Win, and you’ve locked up the two seed, most likely playing Marist in the MAAC Tournament. Lose, and you… probably still play Marist, just with the 2- and 3-seeds reverse. This game isn’t exactly meaningless, but it’s far from the most important UDM has played this season.
It would be really weird if the Titans owned the middle of the conference, with their three losses coming to the best team and the two worst teams in the MAAC. It is senior day for VMI, so there might be a bit of a boost to their home field advantage, but not much.
VMI is excellent at faceoffs, and varying degrees of mediocre-to-horrible at everything else.
- The Titans concede the faceoff on over half the draws. If they aren’t going to beat Robarge (and the stats say it’s unlikely), there’s no reason to give up a clean win. We saw Michigan actually exceed expectations against Loyola using that technique, and Detroit might do the same.
- I’m not sure what offensive personnel UDM will have available (namely Joel Matthews), but it really shouldn’t matter. This is a very poor VMI defense, and the Titans have enough weapons to make them pay.
- On the other side of the ball, VMi isn’t quite so inept, but Detroit has a defense that is very stout when not overmatched by the opposing personnel (such as against North Carolina, Delaware, et al). Shutting off the four dangerous players may open opportunities for other guys, but it gives the Titans the best chance to bog down the Keydet offense and get the win.
- For whatever reason – partially for those described above – I’m feeling a lot of penalties in this game. That hurts UDM a little more than it does VMI, so stay on the lookout.
VMI is really bad, and although Detroit has had some embarrassing moments this year (losing to Manhattan, getting effectively blown out by Georgetown) they’re by far the superior squad. With recent results – including the crushing loss to Bellarmine last week when leading by four freakin’ goals with barely that many minutes remaining – I can’t speak to the psyche of this Detroit tean, but they should be able to pull off the win regardless. Detroit wins 13-8, locking up the No. 2 seed in the MAAC tournament.