Detroit Preview: VMI

So this is when the Titans will get their first win of the year. After a long break leading up to last week’s game against Marist, they seemed to play much better than they had been, and VMI is far and away the worst team in the country.

VMI

Virginia Military Institute Keydets Lacrosse

The VMI team name is the Keydets, a Southern style slang for the word “cadets”.

Noon EST
March 23, 2013
Titan Field
Live stats.
Ticket information.
Detroit pregame notes. Gameday Central.
VMI pregame notes have not been published yet; I’ll update when they’re available.

Tempo-Free Profile

With Tempo-Free Lax.com fully up to date, the numbers shown here are adjusted for the strength of schedule (VMI has played the nation’s No. 58 toughest schedule to date – pretty much the only way it could be worse is if they played themselves).

VMI 2013
Pace 75.43 (3)
Poss% 46.21 (60)
Off. Eff. 17.03 (63)
Def. Eff. 41.02 (62)
Pyth% 3.93! (63)

VMI is not just the worst lacrosse team this season. There’s a damn good chance that the Keydets are the worst Division-1 team ever. They certainly are in the era for which TFL data is populated (though Mercer 2011 is giving them a bit of a run).

Whereas VMI had been really bad on offense and on defense in the past several years, at least Stephen Robarge was a fairly dominant faceoff specialist to soften the blow a bit. With him out the door, they’re one of the worst possession teams in the country.

They’re also one of the worst defenses in the country, to go along with the worst offense (just behind… Detroit!). The only thing that is compelling about the Keydets is their pace. They play fast because possessions are ending in VMI turnovers or opponent goals in short order, making for a whole lot of faceoffs and action.

Offense

VMI’s offense is downright moribund, but thanks to their pace of play, we have some indication about who their offensive threats are based on scoring totals. There are two of them.

Senior attackman Russell East leads the team with 14 goals and two assists. Junior linemate Bernie Mowbray has 11 points on seven goals and four assists. They are far and away your scoring leaders.

Behind them is a trio of players with six points. Sophomore attack Eric Groleau is the team leader with five assists, and he’s contributed just one goal: he’s your distributor. Sophomore attack Mike DeBlasio and junior attack/mid Alex Henthorn both have five goals and one assist.

Clearly, this is an offense that doesn’t feature a lot of passing to do its scoring, with assists on just .442 of its (very few) goals. This offense, like the rest of the team, isn’t having a lot of success so far this year. All except East and Groleau have double-digit turnovers on the season. Expect the Titans to get back on their pressure game in this one.

Defense

Junior Rory Dillon is the only defensive player (aside from goalie Matt Lindemann) who has started every game. Sophomore LSM/D Tyler Prasnicki has played – and started – in six of them, so he’ll be a started as well. Senior LSM/D Taylor Jenkins has played in all seven and started six, so it’s fair to assume he’ll be a starter, as well.

Prasnicki is far and away the team’s leader in caused turnovers  so he’s your dangerman there (of course, that could be inflated by faceoff wing play). All are about even in ground balls, which I guess can be a blessing and a curse.

Lindemann has played all but one quarter of the season, and given the utter ineptitude of the VMI defense as a whole, his numbers aren’t that bad. He’s saving .500 of shots faced. and giving up 15.11 goals per game (that’s not as bad as teammate Scottie Hayman, whose limited sample size gives him a GAA of 75.79). Lindemann appears to be a poor man’s Gerald Logan: a good goalie behind a poor defense. Of course in this instance, the defense is even worse, and the goalie likely is, as well.

Special Teams

Think VMI misses Stephen Robarge? He was winning around 2/3 of his faceoffs in 2010-2012, and now… VMI has regressed to one of the country’s worst units in that department. Sophomore Gaston Ledford has been the primary specialist, taking almost exactly five times as many draws as classmate Luke Frizzell. They’re dead even, winning .464-ish of attempts.

VMI is the worst clearing team in the country, and one of the bottom four in riding, as well. The latter can be explained by strategy (trying to limit the number of shots pelting Lindemann), but the former can be nothing other than a deficiency.

One thing VMI does well (or should I say the thing VMI does well) is commit fewer penalties than opponents. They convert at a reasonable clip on the EMO, above 1/3, but opponents cash in nearly half the time, so that’s a really poor man-down defense (though I guess in the grand scheme, it’s only a little worse than their even-strength D).

Big Picture

Just win, baby. This is one of two games over the rest of the year (Manhattan in two weeks is the other) that the TFL numbers see the Titans winning. 0-6 isn’t fun, but 0-7 with a loss to the worst team in the country is worse. And it also means you get to take their mantle as worst.

If the Titans somehow manage not to win this one… well, let’s not worry about that right now.

Predictions

Detroit is bad. VMI is baaaaaaaaaaad. The UDM has advantages in just about every metric, so this is the perfect antidote for struggles.

  • Detroit dominates on faceoffs. Though the Titans have been inconsistent, VMI has been bad. Add in one of the few opportunities to guarantee better wing play, and you have yourself a distinct advantage.
  • The Detroit offense sets a new season high in offensive efficiency (previously 31.25 against Quinnipiac). Even without Shayne Adams, there are just matchup problems all over the field for a bad VMI defense.
  • The Titans get back to their old ways on caused turnovers. The Titans have dipped to forcing a TO on 21.72% of opponent possessions this year. That’s a huge drop from last year’s 27.53%. Look for around 30% against this team – though VMI’s unforced turnovers might deflate that number, too.
  • VMI gets a couple soft-ish goals early and makes things look scary. The Keydets also score at least once on the EMO.

I think I’ve made my expectations clear in this one, no? While Detroit’s struggles have been really frustrating, they’re nothing compared to a team that is one of the country’s worst in just about every metric (and certainly when you take them as a whole). Of course, an equally bad VMI team upset a much better Detroit team last spring, so you never know…

It’s close early, but the Titans finally earn their first win, 14-6.

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

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