Among the many things that didn’t go so well in Michigan’s first season was the Wolverines’ ability to take care of the ball. In 14 games, Michigan turned the ball over 256 times (18.39 per game, good for 55th in the nation). Adjusted for pace of play, they turned it over on 55.4% of their offensive possessions, 53rd in the nation.
While both of those rankings are equal to (or better than) Michigan’s ranks in some of the other categories, the low marks certainly indicate that there’s room for improvement – and possibly quick improvement.
Who turned it over most?
I generally hesitate to point fingers at individuals in terms of strong negative stats (especially with Michigan’s first team, which was composed almost entirely of club-recruited athletes playing at the Division-1 level). However, to look at how much the number can be improved, we must look at where the improvement would come from.
|Player||Pos.||Yr.||GP||Ass. + Shot +GBs||TOs|
Assists + Shots + GBs intended to give a rough view of how involved in the game players are. Obviously the aim is to have the ratio of that sum to turnovers be as high as possible. Only players who participated in at least half the games are included.
Of course, the expectations are different for each position, and even for different players within a position group. A defensive midfielder just isn’t going to have much offensive production, nor really pick up as many GBs as some others. However, we at least have a bit of context.
- FOGO Brian Greiner (13.50 touches/turnover)
- Midfielder Alex Vasileff (5.70 touches/turnover)
- Defenseman Austin Swaney (5.67 touches/turnover)
- Attack Trevor Yealy (5.53 touches/turnover)
- Attack David McCormack (5.13 touches/turnover)
Room for Improvement:
- Midfielder Jason Davis (0.75 touches/turnover)
- Defenseman Rob Healy (1.13 touches/turnover)
- Defensive midfielder Thomas Orr (1.33 touches/turnover)
- Attackman Jeff Chu (1.33 touches/turnover)
- Attackman Zach Dauch (1.36 touches/turnover)
So, two of the least turnover-prone are departing fifth-year seniors. However, one must assume that a year of experience (two of the bottom five were freshmen) and an influx of talent could improve numbers across the board.
Who’s coming in?
Unlike Michigan’s previous recruiting classes, all incoming recruits will arrive (or in many cases, have already arrived) with the expectation of playing Division-1 lacrosse. It’s fair to assume that the talent level of the 2012 recruiting class is going to be an upgrade over much of what Michigan has.
Many of the incoming freshmen who played at Michigan’s team camp already impressed me - albeit against lesser competition – and some of those who I didn’t see in action (including midfielder Kyle Jackson, faceoff specialist Brad Lott, and defenseman Cooper Charlton) are among the most highly-touted players in the class.
Keep in mind that many players on Michigan’s team last year missed significant portions – or even all – of the year due to injury. That includes longpoles Nick Guerriero and Vince Strittmatter, and even starting goalie Emil Weiss was unavailable in four games, and limited in a few others.
Last year, it was impossible to pull players off the field for underperforming. There simply wasn’t the depth available to do it. Many of the same pieces are returning, and the Wolverines add a well-regarded freshman class and several players (hopefully) back to full strength. That gives more options, and more talent at the coaches’ disposal.
No other Division-1 program in the past few years has had a rags-to-riches first recruiting class like Michigan’s could be. Although Detroit started with a mostly club (from Michigan State) and unrecruited roster, the Titans’ first recruiting class didn’t have the accolades that Michigan’s 2012 group does. Jacksonville actually had an excellent first season (6-7) after a multi-year ramp-up.
The only recent program to improve turnover percentage from year one to year two is Mercer, which went from .662 turnovers/possessions to .611, an improvement of .051 points. With a talent influx, Michigan’s number should at least match that.
And it means?
This is one area in which there isn’t much evidence to point to and say “see, it’ll be better” for Michigan’s 2013 team. Two of the three recently added Division-1 teams actually got worse from year one to year two in terms of turnovers per possession. None of the other new programs have recruited as well as Michigan did in year one (though Jacksonville was the closest), so the talent and experience bump from year one to year two should be in the Wolverines’ favor.
Not in Michigan’s favor is a likely scheme change in the wake of offensive coordinator Judd Lattimore’s departure for Penn. However, the talent and experience upgrade should be more than enough to counteract that effect.