Detroit Preview: Canisius

The Titans have been humbled a bit early in the season, but they have a chance – as they have in previous years – to render that all meaningless with a strong run through the conference. It starts tomorrow in Buffalo.


Canisius College Griffins Lacrosse

Fear the Griffin!

March 23, 2014. Noon EDT
Buffalo, N.Y.
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@DetroitTitans. @GriffsMLax.
Detroit game preview. .pdf notes.
Canisius game preview. .pdf notes.

Tempo-Free Profile

The numbers displayed here are up to date for this season (barring some errors, since the NCAA is not super-great at running a website), since there’s enough data nationally that the numbers are pretty meaningful. The figures are also adjusted for strength of schedule, and Canisius has a bottom-10 strength to date in 2014. That’s not strong.

Canisius 2014
Pace 57.00 (62)
Poss% 50.58 (32)
Off. Eff. 22.63 (61)
Def. Eff. 33.19 (44)
Pyth% 24.71 (55)

One thing that Canisius has done well so far… is keep the pace of games down so they don’t lose by a lot when they do lose? If they want to play slow (and I imagine they do), they’re certainly succeeding.

The best aspect of the team other than that stylistic matter is the possession game. The Griffins are very strong on faceoffs, and although they’re a poor clearing team, they ride really well to make up for it. Middle-of-the-pack nationally might not be extremely impressive, but its better than most of their other aspects.

The offense has been really poor. They’re barely outside of the national bottom five, scoring on barely more than 20% of possessions adjusted for opposition strength (meaning they’ve done  better than that on a game-to-game basis, but the number is rounded down because of the non-murderers row they’ve faced).

The defense isn’t quite as bad – it’s outside of the bottom quarter of programs nationally – but it still isn’t very good. All told, despite better than average possession, the Griffins are a weak team.


Junior midfielder Tim Edwards and sophomore attack Vince Gravino lead the way on offense with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Edwards had six goals to seven assists, while Gravino is a more finish-based scorer with seven and four.

Gravino’s fellow sophomore attack Billy Jacobbi is the third-leading scorer with just nine points on the year, and the third attack starter, junior Austin Romantic, is tied with him. Both are basically pure finishers, with three assists between them. Freshman Jeff Edwards and junior Brandon Bull round out the starting midfield, with just five and four points, respectively.

Canisius’ scoring is heavily concentrated at the top, but even the top scorers have very little production to date. This is a bad offense. The attackmen are mostly finishers, whereas the midfield sees plenty of assist opportunities. With Detroit’s strength – the short-stick defensive midfield – they should be able to shut off the service to a certain extent, and make the attackmen earn it one-on-one.


Junior Alex Govenettio is the starting goalkeeper, and he’s putting up a pretty decent .550 save percentage despite the Griffs’ general mediocrity on that side of the ball. He’s not the reason for Canisius’ struggles. He’s not seeing a ton of rubber either, but Canisius has faced some pretty poor teams, so the offensive talent of Detroit (should they manage to put the ball on the cage) should be an upgrade.

The close defense isn’t great, with only 38 caused turnovers through six games. Junior Adam Donner leads the way with five CTs on the season. Senior D.J. Giacobbo is a steady force, and sophomore Rich Stapleton rounds out the starting unit.

The LSM actually is pretty good, and senior Kevin Collins is the team’s non-FO leader in ground balls… with 11. This isn’t much of a defense to fear. They don’t give up a ton of shots – something that might be an issue with Detroit’s regular troubles in accuracy – but they don’t prevent good scoring chances, and their production to date has been against bad teams.

Special Teams

The team’s leadin scorer is also its top faceoff specialist, so Edwards is a bit of a throwback, to an extent. He’s a pretty god one, winning .684 of his draws, and though his time spent on offense clouds just where he’s picking up ground balls, his team-leading 46 certainly seems to indicate he’s winning a lot of them to himself. Detroit’s specialists have struggled a bunch this season, and this appears to be Canisius’ biggest advantage in the game.

The Griffs are a bad clearing team, barely outside the top quarter of the country. Given their propensity for turning it over (93 times through six games) and weak offense, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. What they are good at is riding – despite not causing many turnovers, so it could be a statistical anomaly at this point, based on strength of competition faced. Look for Detroit’s shaky clear to have some troubles.

Canisius plays a relatively clean brand of lacrosse, with an even number of penalties committed by themselves and opponents, but their special teams are nothing short of brutal. They’ve scored just once in 15 extra-man opportunities, while allowing opponents to score on seven of 17 chances. Terrible.

Big Picture

Detroit’s real season starts now. The disappointments of non-conference play will soon be forgotten if the Titans are able to once again run through the MAAC and get to the NCAA Tournament. With a seven-team league in 2014, they have to finish ahead of three other teams to make that happen.

Canisius is a good first opponent, since the Griffins will be one of those teams right on the cusp along with UDM. The Griffins squeaked by a brutal first-year Monmouth program last week to take a 1-0 record in the league (Detroit is actually the only team yet to start league play), and UDM can gain an advantage early in the conference season.


Despite what looks to be a not-good Canisius team, is there more confidence in Detroit and their ability to put together a winning performance? Not here.

  • Faceoffs are such an up-and-down, matchup-oriented phase of the game, but I don’t see Detroit’s weak unit taking down a strong specialist like Edwards. If he’s relied upon to carry the offense, it could wear on him, but it hasn’t yet this year. That should be one piece of the possession game that Canisius ultimately dominates.
  • This should be Canisius’ fastest game of the year. Their high-water mark to date – 64 possessions – would be the second slowest UDM contest. The Titans aren’t playing as fast as they have in recent years, but they aren’t far off.
  • Detroit’s strengths on D should prevent the Canisius offense from really getting going. The Griffins rely upon the midfield to get the offense gong. Although their attackmen do the bulk of the finishing, if they don’t get the ball consistently, they ain’t putting it in the net.
  • Offensively, Detroit should be able to get going to a degree. The Canisius defense is not really something to fear. Alex Maini and Shayne Adams should be able to play a pretty clean game, and open things up for the midfield.

Despite looking like the better team in settled play, I don’t trust this Detroit squad due to its possession issues. The Golden Griffins – especially thanks to Edwards – should be able to dominate the ball, and though they won’t end up as efficient as Detroit, that possession advantage results in a 9-7 Canisius win.

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

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One Response to Detroit Preview: Canisius

  1. Sir Laxalot says:

    I could see why you picked this score, but the Titans prevailed by being better than expected in all the LACKING areas… Good road win. Moving on…

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