Michigan 8, Johns Hopkins 17

Historic Homewood Field Michigan Wolverines Johns Hopkins Blue Jays lacrosse

Historic Homewood Field. Photo courtesy GLS reader DCLaxFan.

All things considered, this game didn’t go that poorly. Michigan got absolutely crushed in the possession game, and still kept things closer than you’d expect them to against a top-5 team nationally.

Of course, there’s the small factor that Dave Pietramala is hesitant to run things up on a friend, especially one at the helm of a new program. Still, I think coming into this game many might not have expected U-M to come within 10 goals even if Hopkins was trying to let them. Chalk it up a moral victory.

Tempo Free

From the official box score, a look at the tempo-free stats:

Johns Hopkins 2013
Michigan Johns Hopkins
Faceoff Wins 4 Faceoff Wins 29
Clearing 17-20 Clearing 15-20
Possessions 29 Possessions 52
Goals 8 Goals 17
Offensive Efficiency .276 Offensive Efficiency .327

Boy, that faceoff number. Brad Lott was ineffective through the first quarter, after which time Michigan went with Charlie Keady to muck things up and play defense. That didn’t go a whole lot better, and more than anything drove home the point that Michigan’s inability to pick up a contested ground ball was the issue more than anything. As was the case in the Bellarmine game, most of the faceoffs were 50/50 balls or better, and the Wolverines just couldn’t scoop ‘em up.

Last year, these were the best two riding teams in the country. That’s right, Michigan was second-best nationally (to JHU) at something, even in the epic struggle that was Year One. In this game… Michigan got the better of Hopkins in that metric. This team’s improvement in the clear – while there’s still work to be done – has been night-and-day.

As for the efficiency margin… sometimes you just play Johns Hopkins and you’re Michigan. Even if the 81 possessions in this game had been distributed dead evenly, Michigan would have lost about 13-11. That’s life.

Notes

I might as well change the name of the site from “Great Lax State” to “The Gerald Logan Fanboi Outlet,” but that dude can play. He was in obvious pain due to the shoulder injury suffered against Bellarmine, but committed zero turnovers in the clear, and saved .414 of shots faced. Given that two or three (at least) of those goals were softies that you wouldn’t expect him to give up if healthy and/or not getting shelled, and that’s a pretty good outing.

Michigan Wolverines Johns Hopkins Blue Jays lacrosse Homewood Field

The faceoff X of doom, starring Unstoppable Faceoff God Mike Poppleton. Photo courtesy GLS reader DCLaxFan.

Hopkins had such a balanced output that it’s tough to pick out any real stars. Obviously Unstoppable Faceoff God Mike Poppleton (17/18) is one of them. The six offensive starters for Hopkins each had at least two points, and between them they had 20 of Hopkins’ 30 points, and 11 of the 17 goals. While “but they played their depth” is true to an extent, Hopkins didn’t call off the dogs until later than many seem to believe.

The offense really wasn’t bad, especially given the lack of time that they had with the ball to develop any sort of rhythm. Thomas Paras went down early in the game with a hamstring injury (no word on severity), so Michigan wasn’t operating at full strength and still did OK, given that they were playing Hopkins. In the first half (when you could contend JHU hadn’t let off the gas yet), the efficiency number was still an OK .250.

Kyle Jackson is still a bit limited in terms of making the right play every time (and though he scored one righty in this game, he’s clearly more comfortable sticking with his left), but is developing into a great offensive option. He had two goals, as did Peter Kraus. David Joseph was U-M’s other multi-point scorer with one and one.

Defensively, Michigan just didn’t have the horses to run with Hopkins. It’s going to happen. A lot of the plays weren’t one-on-one battles won with an easy finish, and at least required a pass after drawing a slide (a small leap forward when a team as skilled as Hopkins is the opposition, but a leap forward nonetheless), resulting in 13 Hopkins assists on 17 goals.

Can Michigan actually take a bit of confidence from this game? Even though they were more than doubled up, I say yes. There were some very good moments, and they aren’t playing Hopkins again for the rest of the year (though the Denver and Loyola games, at the very least, could be some ugly ones). I would have liked to see Dylan Westerhold get some time between the pipes with Logan clearly favoring that right shoulder, but it is what it is. He didn’t get any more hurt than he already was, though the risk was there.

Elsewhere

Michigan official site recap. Johns Hopkins official site recapBoxscore. The Michigan Daily recaps the game. Highlights from the Hopkins site, and in Youtube format:

Up Next

Michigan takes a trip down to sunny Miami for the first game in a spring break road trip. Army is a formidable opponent, but the Wolverines can, at the very least, look at every opponent from here on out and say, “but they’re not Hopkins.” That may not lead to a lot of wins, but certainly increased confidence as this young team grows up.

It’s the first game in a really heavy stretch. U-M has a Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Thursday-Sunday-Saturday stretch coming up. While the club players may be familiar with that heavy a workload, it’s a little different when basically all of the teams are better (other than likely High Point).

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3 Responses to Michigan 8, Johns Hopkins 17

  1. AndyD says:

    OK, I’ll bite first.

    Good write up. Were you there? I watched on Sunday, and came away feeling better about the short term future than I did after Bellarmine. The offense, which most of the game featured 4 freshmen and 2 sophomores, moved the ball well and turned it over less than Hopkins did. They got good shots. They didn’t place their shots very well, which needs to improve. Meter didn’t score, but he also didn’t panic with the best defenseman in college lacrosse all over him. Hernandez is a beast. He is going to be really good. He stood out to me more than anyone other than Logan.

    The defense has the 2 seniors (3 with Swaney healthy, but he didn’t play so assume he’s hurt?). Sutton does a nice job at D mid, and Orr is solid, but neither of those guys are of the impressive stud athlete variety you see at D mid for a lot of the top teams. Kinek seems to have some of that athleticism. He just got lost sometimes. I’d say the same for Keady and Brown. Big upgrades athletically, but still figuring out how to play D1 team defense. They gave up too many inside opportunities. That’s going to happen if you slide as much as they do, but it will happen less as the young guys learn.

    They are not 10 man riding right now, which may be because they are so young. So don’t expect them to be #2 in the nation in the ride again. The clear was an adventure last year. It seems to be a strength now. They aren’t generating much transition, but they are consistently getting the ball out. That speaks to coaching.

    Man down got abused by a really good man-up unit. Michigan’s man up looked great though. The one opportunity they had they moved the ball really well and got a point-blank shot (scored on the rebound).

    Faceoffs were a disaster of course. Siena and Towson didn’t fare a whole lot better though. Poppleton is the man, and the Hopkins wings are better than most. That was a senior who is among the best in the country against a freshman, and it looked that way. Complete physical mis-match. Michigan may struggle there all year with so many freshmen in the mix (Lott and Keady facing off, and Brown and Kinek on the wings most of the time). It’s going to be hard to win games if they are getting killed on faceoffs, but at least they aren’t giving it back on the clear anymore.

    Logan is the real deal. The injury is scary though. Weiss did a decent job last year when he was available, but the drop-off was huge when he was out. The drop would be even greater this year. Unless this D’Alessio kid is a hidden gem. Can’t afford to lose Logan.

    Hopkins was missing Stanwick and Guida. Those are key guys, but Hopkins being Hopkins they can absorb the loss of a couple of studs and fill in with more studs. Michigan didn’t have Swaney or Paras (after the first couple minutes). I thought it showed up more on the defense since the freshman middies handled themselves well. Where the loss of Paras might have hurt is the second line. They bumped Joseph up to replace him, and without him the second line didn’t do anything.

    • Tim says:

      A lot to digest there. I took in the game live on ESPN3 and also saved it on my DVR to rewatch (I happen to also be chillin’ in my office re-watching on ESPN3 as I type, too). So my observations aren’t in-person, though I’ve heard from a few people who were there.

      The freshmen are indeed good, and the only thing standing between some of the best among them (Logan, Jackson, Hernandez, Lott, Kraus to an extent, et al.) is experience. It’s the classic Rich Rodriguez quote: “you can’t just make them older” or whatever he used to complain about.

      The D mid situation is one that I’m concerned about. The players they have in place are decent, but I’ve also been scared to death with Orr on the clear at times, too. They certainly aren’t going to shut down a dodging middie, either. Like you mentioned, the D is still learning to slide/recover at the D-1 level, and that’s the sort of thing that will be helped just as much by Not Playing Hopkins as by anything else. Loyola and Denver will probably tear them to shreds, but that’s life.

      They ran a lot of ten-man in the first two games (and a few possessions of it against Hopkins as well), so I wouldn’t declare it dead just yet. There’s something to be said for realizing that “making Hopkins execute” is more likely to end with “Hopkins is executing” than “yay we rode the hell out of them into several turnovers.” Knowing when certain tactics won’t work is just as important as having a useful tactic in the bag.

      As for faceoffs, that is indeed just going to happen. That’s one of those things where you just have to wait for Lott to grow up, develop communication with his wings – he didn’t practice all fall due to injury, and was out for the first month of practice in the spring due to suspension – etc. He did an OK job controlling the clamp (maybe 40% of the time, but that’s still better than I expected), but his wings weren’t where he was expecting, and they sure as hell weren’t going to bail anyone out by picking up a contested GB.

      The Logan injury is scary indeed. I was really surprised they didn’t throw Westerhold in there to preserve Logan and to get a bit of experience behind him in case something did happen where he misses extended time.

      • DCLaxFan says:

        A few more observations from seeing the game live at Homewood. First, UM didn’t bother to ride most of the game, but virtually conceded the Hopkins clear and set up on D. That made sense given that they weren’t going to break the JH clear and didn’t want to give up easy transition goals. Second, a couple of UM freshman made some great one on one moves to beat the Hopkins D that resulted in some goals or quality shots on goal. I was impressed by that. Third, even though Hopkins players were like vacuum cleaners on ground balls, UM did a nice job (outside of face-offs) in picking up ground balls.

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