Year-to-year change: Detroit

New idea: looking at what changed statistically from 2012 to 2013, and trying to divine why that changed, and whether that change will continue through the 2014 season.

2012 2013
Off. Eff. 24.59 (51) 24.93 (55)
Def. Eff. 30.24 (24) 28.85 (23)
Poss% 47.57 (55) 48.91 (42)
Ride% 19.81 (6) 14.57 (26)
Opp. TO% 57.7 55.5

Interactive Whiteboards by PolyVision

Before examining each of those in-depth, it’s important to point our a couple of points: The raw numbers for the offense actually got slightly better, but the rankings got slightly worse. The defense improved quite a bit, but gained only one spot nationally. Last year’s college lacrosse was more offensive than previous years, in part because of rule changes. some of the numbers changed through no fault of the Titans’ own.

Offensive Efficiency

Detroit had a couple really tough years on the injury front when it comes to the offense. In 2012, the production absolutely dropped off a cliff when attackman Joel Matthews got hurt. Perhaps in part because other guys were more ready to step up, the same didn’t happen when Shayne Adams went down last spring.

Alex Maini has taken on a bigger-than-expected role with each injury, and has developed nicely into a ball-carrying attackman. He’s back again in 2014, so assuming Adams remains healthy – along with the emergence of midfielders Mike Birney and Scott Drummond, and a more well-rounded roster offensively, things should take another leap forward.

Defensive Efficiency

I’m going to lump a couple of the other stats – Ride percentage and Opponents’ turnover percentage – into this one, because they’re all related to a degree. They also come back to one big change in philosophy: the Titans weren’t as dedicated to causing turnovers defensively during 2013 as they had been in 2012 (and previous years). They had a lot of individual talent – Jordan Houtby, Jamie Hebden, and goalie A.J. Levell among them – and were able to be a bit more passive without too much sacrifice in overall defensive efficiency.

With much of that high-level talent out the door (but more overall depth of talent now on the roster), my prediction is that Detroit will go even further away from the all-attack defense that they had run in the past. They have talent, but talent that will allow them to slow down the game and prevent goals, rather than cause turnovers to prevent opponents from generating shots with their opportunities.

Paired with more overall offensive talent, the identity of the team will make a shift.

Possession Percentage

Part of the dropoff here is due to the slight change in riding philosophy – more failed clears means more opportunities for Detroit, and that wasn’t the plan in 2013 as much as in the past – and part is due to an unquestioned positive: winning more faceoffs. Whereas not focusing on the ride allows more settling from the defense at the cost of generating fewer fast-break offensive opportunities, winning faceoffs is (almost) always good.

The Titans’ faceoff percentage improved from .428 to .479 in one year, and redshirt freshman Damien Hicks in particular saw a lot of success at the dot, winning his draws at a .522 clip. He’s back this spring, and the Titans should continue improving going forward.

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