It’s time to shake off the rust (albeit somewhat temporarily) on the preview machine. This weekend, Michigan’s Team Two faces its first live action in a fall ball scrimmage against Marist. Who are the Red Foxes?
9 a.m. EST Oct. 6, 2012
Ridley High School, Folsom, Pa.
6-8 (3-3 MAAC). #44 Laxpower, #44 Tempo-Free.
Raw numbers from last year and the strength-of-schedule adjusted numbers come from the Tempo-Free database.
|Faceoff Wins||141||Faceoff Wins||189|
|Offensive Efficiency||.295||Offensive Efficiency||.308|
Marist was poor in the possession game last year (No. 53 nationally) thanks to bad faceoffs and a well below-average ride. They were quite good on the clear, however, leading me to believe they played a style of game that was settled end-to-end (their pace was about dead-center nationally at No. 30).
Their offense really wasn’t that bad – No. 36 nationally, adjusted for strength of schedule – but their defense was slightly worse, and when you’re not good in either area (or in the possession game), it’s going to be hard to put together a strong team.
The full profile, via TempoFreeLax.com:
Two players accounted for nearly half of Marist’s scoring output last year, and they both return. Attackmen Jack Doherty and Connor Rice seems like opposites in just about every way except their ability to put up points: Doherty is big (6-3, 185) and gets most of his production through goals, while Rice is small (5-7, 150) and is primarily an assist man. They have pretty clearly defined roles – which seems like it would be slightly easier to defend than versatility all over the field. The Red Foxes’ third-leading scorer last year was a freshman, 6-1, 175-pound Drew Nesmith (who was twice named the conference rookie of the week), though his production was half of the big two, and nearly all through finishing on his own.
You have to drop to the fourth-leading scorer to find a Red Fox who won’t be back this year, in the form of departed midfielder Evan Guarini. Still, Nos. 5 and 6 (attack Colin Joka and midfielder Mike Begley) are both back, and both just sophomores this fall. Marist was a young, young offense last year, and should continue to improve this season. Senior Jim Marks played in just nine games last spring, but was still the other double-digit scorer on the roster with 5 and 5.
Doherty, Rice, and Nesmith were all second-team All-MAAC last season.
The big loss for Marist comes on defense, with the graduation of their only first-team All-MAAC performer from last season, Zach Badalucco. He was a part-time faceoff specialist, too, and was second on the team in GBs. Despite missing two games, he was also third on the team with 10 caused turnovers. LSM Kevin DiFranco has also departed, and will have to be replaced in the lineup. Without seeing any action yet this year, I’m not sure how much the new substitution rules will affect the use of LSMs (and short-stick defensive midfielders) in favor of two-way guys, but we’ll have to see.
That leaves senior Ethan Fox – who was a second-team All-MAAC performer a year ago – and classmate Kevin DiFranco from the back three. That’s not a bad group to leave behind, especially given that they were 1-2 on the team in caused turnovers last year.
Senior Brendan Brunelle earned only one start last year, but made 11 appearances and could be among the players stepping up to replace the departed starters. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. Not a lot of press out there regarding the Marist defense.
In goal, rising junior Craig Goodermote was The Man for almost the entirety of last year. The total time he wasn’t between the pipes for the Red Foxes was barely more than a game. He saved .526 of shots faced, and allowed just 9.79 goals per game (playing behind a mediocre defense). Both other goalies who saw time in 2012 return, as well.
This is the area where Marist most obviously struggled last year. A handful of players took a few draws here and there, but the only guy to crack the .400 mark was the primary specialist, Matt Dugan. He’s back as a senior this year, but .483 at the dot isn’t exactly brag-worthy on its own. At least it would have been good for No. 41 nationally, instead of the team’s aggregate No. 52 ranking. Expect more of the same this year, with Dugan hovering close to .500, a few other players getting spot draws here and there, and some defensive players getting in there to not necessarily win the draw, but more importantly prevent a fast break.
As mentioned above, Marist was both good at clearing and bad at riding – not a lot of transition when the Red Foxes were in town last year. With a mostly intact lineup from last year, minus a couple key cogs, expect more of the same on the clear (primarily because there’s a lot more margin for going down than up in terms of performance). I don’t expect Marist to emphasize the ride – unless they use it in this game just to test what was a terrible Michigan clear last season.
Marist committed and received about the same number of penalties last year – just under four per game – so they weren’t a notably clean or sloppy team in that regard. They did, however, convert at a better clip than opponents, and I expect more of the same this season.
The 2012 season basically counts as a throwaway for Michigan, at least in terms of predictions going forward. It was a club roster with one or two players who had ever been on a Division-1 field. The chance for rapid improvement now that most of the team has a bit of experience (and those that don’t have the experience are Division-1 recruits) is there.
Unfortunately, Michigan’s improving from one of the worst marks in the country, and though Marist wasn’t that far ahead, they also have a lineup littered with veterans. That includes some of the MAAC’s best returning players, and a whole lot of guys who are in their third or fourth year of Division-1 lacrosse.
This is a good opportunity for Michigan to gauge itself as a program, though drawing any conclusions (good or bad) can be a bit foolish, as is always the case with fall scrimmages.
It’s impossible to guess at each team’s strategy going into the game – play everyone to evaluate talent? Run through every scheme you have? Try to win the game? – so making any broad predictions is foolhardy. I do think Marist will show that they’re ahead of Michigan as a program, but how that manifests itself may or may not show on the scoreboard.
If Michigan is not only competitive, but the apparent stronger team in this contest, I think you can increment the expectations for Team Two up, but only very slightly. That said, I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen, either.
Simply making a wild guess here, look for both teams to get most of their game-ready players onto the field, and for Marist to emerge with a 15-9 win.