The Next Level: Feb. 14, 2017

Our weekly look at Michigan natives who are playing college lacrosse at division-1 institutions this Spring. We’re one week closer to just about everybody playing.

Bellarmine 8, Robert Morris 10

  • Senior attackman/midfielder Graham Macko (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman attackman Morgan Macko (Brother Rice) – Started, cored a Goal on three Shots, picked up a ground ball, and caused one turnover. Also committed two turnovers.

Cleveland State 7, Duke 22

  • Freshman defenseman Levi Peterson (Holt) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Garrett White (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Did not see game action.

Colgate 8, Marist 12

  • Freshman attackman Cooper Belanger (Detroit Country Day) – Did not see game action.

Detroit 8, Ohio State 14

  • Senior attackman Kyle Beauregard (Notre Dame Prep) – Started and scored two Goals on four Shots (two on goal). Also committed two turnovers.
  • Junior midfielder Sean Birney (Detroit Catholic Central) – Started and scored two Goals on five Shots (three on goal). Also committed a turnover.
  • Freshman defenseman Nick Boynton (Troy Athens) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Adam Findlay (Detroit Catholic Central) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior attackman Alec Gilhooly (Detroit Catholic Central) – Scored two Goals on his only two Shots. Also committed four turnovers.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Benjamin Gjokaj (Walled Lake Northern) – Won 15/23 faceoffs, picking up ten ground balls. Also took one Shot on goal.
  • Sophomore midfielder Emmett Green (Birmingham Seaholm) – Caused one turnover and picked up one ground ball.
  • Freshman attackman/midfielder Blake Grewal-Turner (Okemos) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Jack Harrop (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Charlie Hayes (Utica Eisenhower) – Took one Shot and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one penalty for 1:00.
  • Senior midfielder JD Hess (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Sam Horton (Okemos) – Started and picked up one ground ball. Also committed one penalty for 0:30.
  • Freshman midfielder Alex Jarzembowski (Detroit Catholic Central) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior midfielder Brent Lubin (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.
  • Junior midfielder Connor Maks (UD-Jesuit) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior midfielder Greg Marzec (Brother Rice) – Went 0/2 on faceoffs and picked up one ground ball.
  • Junior defenseman Bryan Matney (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Started, caused one turnover, and picked up one ground ball.
  • Freshman midfielder Jackson McElhenney (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore midfielder Bo Pickens (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.
  • Sophomore defenseman Austin Ross (Warren Mott) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman midfielder Charlie Schiefer (Birmingham Seaholm) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman goalie Logan Shamblin (Troy) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Travis Sparling (Novi) – Did not see game action.
  • Junior attackman/midfielder Adam Susalla (Birmingham Seaholm) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

Duke 22, Cleveland State 7

  • Junior midfielder Matthew Giampetroni (Cranbrook) – Recorded an Assist and took two Shots (both on goal).

Fairfield 3, Richmond 15

  • Freshman defenseman Brian Cosgrove (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

High Point 5, Duke 10

  • Freshman defenseman Luke Cappetto (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Manhattan 14, Wagner 13 (3OT)

  • Sophomore midfielder Robert Carroll (Grosse Pointe South) – Won 3/6 faceoffs and picked up one ground ball.

Michigan 17, Lafayette 6

  • Freshman midfielder Ryan Prior (Birmingham/Culver Academy) – Recorded one Assist.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Brian Archer (Brighton) – Went 0/1 on faceoffs.

Mount St. Mary’s 5, Delaware 18

  • Freshman midfielder Keaton Mitchell (Clarkston) – Starter and took five Shots (three on goal). Also committed one turnover.

Providence 10, Holy Cross 4.

  • Junior midfielder Josh Keller (East Grand Rapids/Kent School) – Played, but only made the scoresheet by committing one penalty for 1:00.

Richmond 15, Fairfield 3

  • Senior attackman J.P. Forester (Brother Rice) – Scored a Goal on five Shots (four on goal). Also committed two turnovers.

Robert Morris 10, Bellarmine 8

  • Freshman long-stick midfielder James Scane (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

Syracuse 19, Siena 6

  • Freshman midfielder Nick Martin (Detroit Country Day) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

UMass Lowell 8, Boston University 18

  • Sophomore goalie Grant Lardieri (Forest Hills Northern) – Started and played 25:04. Recorded three saves and allowed 10 goals (.231 save percentage).

Yet to play: Binghamton (Liam Reaume), Canisius (Logan Monroe, Keith Pravato, Steve Wizniuk), Drexel (Ian Foster), Marquette (Bob Pelton, John Wagner), Notre Dame (Michael Langdon, Sergio Perkovic), Penn (Alex Minanov), Stony Brook (Nathan Richards), Yale (Jason Alessi, John Lazarsfedl).

If I’ve messed anything up, let me know in the comments, where you can also feel free to share statlines from other divisions.

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Detroit 8, Ohio State 14

Ohio State Buckeyes Detroit Titans lacrosse

Ohio State celebrates one of its 14 goals Saturday (via OSU media relations).

This game ended up with the final score I predicted, but how it got there was a far more interesting case study than I had thought we’d see. Titans looked solid against a team not many expected them to beat, and while a moral victory still goes down as a loss, there were encouraging signs for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Tempo-Free

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

Ohio State 2016
Detroit Ohio State
Faceoff Wins 15 Faceoff Wins 10
Clearing 15-16 Clearing 15-19
Possessions 35 Possessions 30
Goals 8 Goals 14
Offensive Efficiency .229 Offensive Efficiency .467

The Titans won the possession battle by dominating one of the country’s best faceoffs specialists in Jake Withers, but didn’t turn it into much production thanks to those age-old bugaboos of turnovers and inaccurate shooting. Meanwhile, Ohio State settled into the possession game, and made the most of its opportunities.

Notes

 

We’ll start on those faceoffs, since I was cautiously optimistic about Ben Gjokaj entering the year, but certainly did not expect him to go 13/21 (.619) against Jake Withers, a preseason all-conference guy who hit a .607 clip last year. That Gjokaj got 10 of those ground balls himself is a huge positive, that five of his wins came on violations can be considered either good (got in Withers’s head) or bad (didn’t dominate as much as the other guy just screwed up a lot). Either way, an upward trend for one aspect of the Titans’ team is always welcome.

The Titans lost this game in the stretch run of the second quarter. They battled to tie it up with 6:01 remaining before halftime, and even won the ensuing faceoff. That possession ended with a turnover… as did the next one after an OSU goal, and the Buckeyes won the final two faceoffs to build momentum and a 9-6 lead that had the Titans reeling despite a well-played 24 opening minutes. The opening faceoff of the third quarter when to Gjokaj, but another turnover and OSU goal cemented the Buckeyes’ dominance, and UDM was jsut playing catch-up from there.

Culprits on those turnovers were primarily attackmen Donavon Dempsey and Alec Gilhooly with four apiece. There’s always a grain of salt there – the offensive quarterbacks have the ball more, and are naturally going to put it on the turf a bit more, accordingly – but definitely something to be cleaned up. Junior Mark Anstead, the team’s leading returner, was not on the field, so hopefully having him available (no word on his status) will improve that quickly.

Those turnovers go part of the way toward explaining the poor offensive efficiency, but not as much the poor defensive efficiency, with only one turnover leading directly to a fast-break goal for the Buckeyes (though there’s something to be said for leaving the defense on the field a lot). The bigger portion of the blame for defensive efficiency falls on the penalty game, where the Titans were quite sloppy. They committed four penalties, and Ohio State converted three of them into goals. That included those to go up 4-1 and 5-1, and then early in the fourth quarter to effectively put the game away at 11-6. There wasn’t much payoff – only three forced turnovers – so UDM will have to improve.

Jason Weber had a decent game between the pipes in a tough situation, with tons of rubber (25 shots on goal, 14 goals allowed). I firmly believe he’s one of the best keepers in the country, and even against a good Ohio State offense, would expect him to have a better statistical day… as long as the defensive is doing its job in front of him. It would certainly appear that wasn’t the case.

The offensive load was pretty shared with Anstead not in the lineup. Sophomore attack Matthew Vangalen was the standout with two goals and three assists, while Sean Birney, Kyle Beauregard, and Alec Gilhooly each notched a pair of goals, as well (Vangalen’s assists, the only of the day for UDM, went to both Gilhooly’s scores and one of Birney’s, for the record).

Overall, it’s easy to find a lot to complain about in a comprehensive loss… and easy to forget that this degree of loss was probably exceeding most folks’ expectations for the Titans against a nationally ranked squad. We’ll have a better chance to see how they’ll compete against more comparable competition starting Wednesday against Michigan.

Elsewhere

Detroit recap. Boxscore (with worse display of stats, but plus PBP). Ohio State recap. Highlights.

Up Next

It’s the big one. Michigan heads to Pontiac for the Titans’ indoor venue at Ultimate Soccer Arenas Wednesday for the in-state matchup. If this gets canceled because of snow I’m going to throw a fit, FYI.

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Michigan preview: Lafayette

Unlike the in-state brethren, Michigan already has a game under its belt prior to today’s action – and the competition is a little less stiff, as well.

Lafayette

Lafayette Leopards lacrosse

Rawr!

Feb. 11, 2017, 4 p.m. EST
Oosterbaan Fieldhouse (FREE)
Live stats.
Michigan preview. Lafayette (season) preview.
John Paul on WTKA.

The Leopards

This was a really bad team last year – No. 63 of 70 according to LaxPower, 3-11 on the year with the wins coming against Wagner, Monmouth, and NJIT. Jim Rogalski’s fifth season at Lafayette had better feature some sort of turnaround, but this Michigan team – while hardly a world-beater – is not exactly on the “expansion teams and Wagner” level (hopefully).

There is good news for Lafayette: they return all three starting attackmen from last year, all seniors (plus the No. 4 scorer is also an attackman, now-sophomore Conor Walters). Eric Joseph’s 33 goals and 8 assists plus Kevin Lewis’s 19 and eight indicate that they’re primarily the finishers – Joseph leading the way, of course – while Jason Sands scored just seven goals but put up 21 assists: he’s your feeder. Walters started five games while Lewis was out of the lineup, but only put up 13 total points on the year.

The top three midfielders are also returners, with juniors Will McCarthy and Matt Close and senior Dillon Confalone all coming off years in which they mostly finished, and notched either 11 or 10 points. Connar Dehnert and Luke Cummings, midfielders No. 4 and 5, are also returners (with a handful of starts apiece last year). This is an experienced offense, albeit one that wasn’t particularly good last year.

Sophomores Zack Merle (nine starts in 11 appearances) and Josh Hubbard (eight starts in nine total) and Sean Andrews (started all 13 games he played) formed a super-young core of the defense last year, but with all three back – and presumably fully healthy and ready to go at the beginning of the year – they should be improved. LSM Erik Cannon, another returning starter, is the elder statesman of the group.

The Leopards were pretty good on faceoffs last year, with Michael Sullivan hitting a nice .519 stride in his first year on-campus. There’s no guarantee those numbers continue (there’s little correlation between years – except at the very top and bottom of the rankings – or guaranteed improvement on faceoffs, statistically), but entering his sophomore year, one wouldn’t expect a huge step back.

Literally the only key contributor from last year’s team who won’t see the field for Lafayette this year is goalie Dillon Falcone. However, he was actually the worse of the two regularly-used options last year, saving only .448 of shots faced while Jon Anastos saved .484… and will presumably be the starter in his sophomore year.

This was a bad team last year, there’s no questioning that, but the experience that they gained (and the growing pains that came with it) should make them much better this year, it’s just a question of how much that will manifest itself in the results.

Big Picture

 

So… a very bad team that one must assume will make huge improvements, against a Michigan team that should finally be hitting its stride as a program, but utterly failed to inspire in its season opener against a brand new program. Color me nervous about this one.

There’s plenty of turnover in U-M’s offense (Kyle Jackson, Peter Kraus) and defense (Chase Brown, Charlie Keady, Gerald Logan). There’s almost literally no turnover among contributors for the Leopards. In the battle of Experience v. Not Being Terrible Last Year, this prognosticator is going to have to punt.

Michigan needs to win this game to build a bit of confidence and cushion in the W-L record heading into a pretty tough overall schedule in the Big Ten. The advantage of Oosterbaan should help equalize whatever they lack in experience, but the Leopards aren’t coming out just for the sake of showing up.

Predictions

For all the reasons listed above, this is tough.

  • Michigan at least tries out a heavy ride a couple times. They’ve gone away from this as a regular tactic, but inside Oosterbaan Fieldhouse against an upset-minded Lafayette team, they have to try to work it to their advantage. Why play home games if there’s no benefit to it, right? If it works, they’ll stick with it a bit, but they’ll be flexible enough to scrap it in a hurry.
  • Ian King is a goal-scorer, rather than a feeder, in this one. That may seem a strange prediction to have to make, but he reinvented himself as an assist specialist playing on the attack line with Kyle Jackson last year, and four assists against Cleveland State. The Leopards have a big, physical defensive unit, so draw slide-dish is a recipe for getting one’s head taken off, may as well work topside and get a couple goals.
  • Teddy Heidt starts in goal and looks pretty good. His performance against Cleveland State was fine (two of the Vikings’ eight goals were against backups after he’d hit the bench in the fourth last weekend). He’s not going to make anyone forget about Gerald Logan – who was an outstanding shot-stopper and clearing goalie, which has continued at Johns Hopkins – but hopefully won’t need to in this one.
  • The faceoff game tips Michigan’s way, though only slightly. It was one area of the game in which the Leopards succeeded last year, sure, but Michigan should have the more athletic wing players, and there’s a lot to like about the potential of Mike McDonnell (like Heidt, his backups made the overall stats look worse last weekend – losing all three of their draws – giving a bit of a negative look to a day that was actually outstanding individually, winning 15/22).

It’s closer than those who just look at the Leopards’ record from last year think it’s going to be, but the Wolverines manage to win nonetheless. It’s a second-straight uninspiring win (at least for thoss who didn’t look into Lafayette’s returning roster), but Wolverines win, 13-11.

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Detroit preview: Ohio State

The 2017 season begins today for UDM. The Titans head South to take on the team that has been their season-opener more than any other: Ohio State.

Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes Lacrosse

A nut with a body. And a lacrosse stick.

Feb. 11, 2017, Noon EST
Columbus, Ohio
Live stats. Live video($).
Detroit preview. Ohio State preview.

The Buckeyes

Ohio State is a team on the fringe of the national rankings (receiving votes in one poll, No. 16 in the other). They are led by three preseason All-Big Ten honorees, all of whom are seniors hailing from Canada. Attack Eric Fannell was third on the team in scoring last Spring with 15 goals and nine assists. Midfielder Johnny Pearson was only a tick behind, though far more tilted toward goal-scoring than feeding with 20 goals and three assists. Rounding out the group is faceoff specialist Jake Withers, who hit .607 on draws last year, and picked up ground balls at an insane pace (110 GBs on 184 faceoffs won).

That the Buckeyes’ leading scorer isn’t one of those all-conference honorees but also returns for his senior year is an impressive display of balance. That’s Michigan commit-turned-Bellarmine player-turned-OSU transfer Austin Shanks, yet another Canadian (and the third starting attackman, despite hailing from Ohio, is a senior himself, JT Blubaugh). Blubaugh’s fellow Columbus native Tyler Pfsiter, a senior midfielder, joins him and Withers as team captains.

The question marks for this team come on the defense, but not in the cage. Tom Carey had a .511 save percentage last year – decent, but not spectacular. Defenseman Robby Haus – named the team’s MVP last Spring – is no longer around, though, and he was the anchor of the unit. There’s experience among the defenders, with Erik Evans coming off a sophomore year in which he started every game, but the departure of Haus and LSM Chris Mahoney will be tough to overcome. The Buckeyes were able to get young guys some experience last year, but there’s also a reason the older guys were starting: they were better.

Big Picture

Detroit has only beaten the Buckeyes once in seven tries, and it didn’t come in Columbus. Can UDM change that today? The national observers are down on this team – and understandably so, given some key roster departures and a disappointing 2016 campaign. I think the opinions are harsh, but I’m also of the opinion that – key defensive departures notwithstanding – Ohio State is going to be a really good squad this year.

Remaining competitive with a chance to steal the game in the end may seem like the lamest, moral victory-est thing to hope for, but it’s about the ceiling in Game One.

Predictions

Not expecting it to go well, but perhaps well enough that projections of the Titans in MAAC play are revised upwards.

  • Jason Weber does not have a super-great game. Ohio State is a talented offense, and a very experienced one. The UDM defense is in rebuilding mode, and there’s only so much Weber can do to bail them out. Even a good individual performance is unlikely to look pretty on the scoreboard.
  • The Titans are not as turnover-prone as we’ve become accustomed to seeing in recent years. The Buckeyes have a decently aggressive defensive scheme, but their execution on that end of the field will be a work in progress very early in the year, which should mean at least one game to get in a groove. Detroit cuts down on the unforced turnovers, and the Buckeyes don’t go out of their way to force many.
  • Detroit runs out at least three faceoff specialists. Jake Withers is one of the country’s best, and not only is he good at winning the clamp, he’s individually dominant enough to control a lot of the ground balls. Running out multiple FOGOs and a pole or two (no word on who it will be with the graduation of Jordan Yono) is all-but guaranteed.

In case you haven’t sensed a theme, I don’t think Detroit will win this game, but I do think they’ll have a season that exceeds expectations (and I’m more than willing to see the first instance of that happen this afternoon). Buckeyes take it, 14-8.

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Scores and schedule: Feb. 11, 2017

The long-awaited return of the scores/schedule post.

Yesterday’s results

Division-3 Men

Hope 5, Carthage 14
Hope 25, Northland College 5

Today’s schedule

Division-1 Men

Detroit @ Ohio State, Noon, Columbus, Ohio
Michigan v. Lafayette, 4 p.m., Oosterbaan Fieldhouse

Division-1 Women

Michigan v. James Madison, 1 p.m., Oosterbaan Fieldhouse
Detroit @ Notre Dame, 3 p.m., South Bend, Ind.

College Club Men

Western Michigan @ Minnesota, Noon, Minneapolis, Minn.
Western Michigan v. Iowa State, 6:30 p.m., Minneapolis, Minn.

Corrections, omissions, etc. always appreciated in the comments. Also use the comments for discussion of today’s action.

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Preview: Detroit Titans 2017

Shayne Adams Detroit Titans Lacrosse Great Lax State

The first year of the post-Shayne Adams era was not super-great (Photo by Tim Sullivan/GLS)

Detroit hit a major slump last year, falling to 2-10 after building to the program’s first-ever winning record the previous season. They are picked to finish sixth in the seven-team MAAC this year, not exactly a vote of confidence. It says here that the poll is a little pessimistic (as it has been for the Titans every year but one, as far as their finish in the conference), and 2016 goes down as more of a hiccup than a sign of impending doom.

Attack

The Titans shifted from a Canadian-based attack to running the offense through a player from a different pipeline when DC Gonzaga’s Mark Anstead took the reins over the past two years. In his junior season, he should be as effective offensively as ever (though not complemented by Adams like he was in Year One), and hopefully able to cut out some of the turnovers – which as long-time readers of this blog know is UDM’s consistent bugaboo up and down the roster – which should make him highly effective.

The other two starting attackmen return as well, so this should be quite a bit more polished. Given that the offense on McNichols has long depended on effective players at attack, that should make for a pretty good unit. Junior Alec Gilhooly and Kyle Beauregard were the Nos. 3 and 5 scorers on an offense that saw only the top five players reach double-digit points thanks to brutal inefficiency (just .212 on the year) and a pretty significant possession disadvantage. Both were more finishers with Anstead quarterbacking the attack.

What the Titans lose most here is depth, with no returning attackmen with playing experience back, aside from the starters. Some of the attack/mid combos (such as Adam Susalla) can certainly help fill that void, but finding a second attack line would be a pretty good idea, in my surely controversial opinion.

Offensive Midfield

UDM loses the top-scoring offensive midfielder, Andy Hebden, who was also the best shooter on the team among those who scored more than one goal. The bright side of losing him? His team-high shooting percentage was only .279, worse than the overall average of more than half the country’s teams. As the best shooter. (Maybe shot selection was a bigger issue for the Titans than turnovers last year, though I will keep beating the turnover drum).

Anyway, those who do return include every-game starter Sean Birney, who scored seven goals and added seven assists last season, and Lucas Ducharme, who started eight of the 11 games in which he played and was the team’s sixth-leading scorer with five goals and two assists.

Patrick Walsh started last year as a primarily defensive midfielder, and only got into nine games, but showed a bit of offensive punch later in the year (his meager four points ended up seventh on the team), and at 6-3, 180 is a physical intimidator enough to be a bit of a two-way guy. I like his potential, and the history of UDM success with Canadian players (he’s an Ontario native who played at Hill Academy) could portend big things for his second year on campus.

The depth here is not proven, either, not least of which because it’s hard to call a whole lot from last year’s offense “proven.” However, look for JD Hess – who started his career as strictly a defensive midfielder but has rounded into a bigger offensive role – to make an impact, as well.

Faceoff

The faceoff dot has been a trouble area for UDM in the past several years, but thanks to the emergence of Ben Gjokaj as the full-time starter on draws last year, it started to creep back toward being pretty good. The Titans were still sub-.500, but Gjokaj his a .556 clip. Backups Greg Marzec (.269) and Mike Sforza (.327) can be more depth players – with Sforza hopefully making a big leap in his second year on-campus.

The wing play has always been a part of the issue for a Detroit team that doesn’t often feature specialists who grab their own GBs (Gjokaj got 31% of his last year, pretty high for the Titans), but that’s almost as much a product of not matching up physically with the most talented teams on the schedule (the power conference teams) when there’s not a Jordan Houtby-type talent available on the wing.

Defensive midfield

The Titans have a couple obvious starters here, led by Charlie Hayes. He was the top short stick in terms of ground balls among those whose contributions didn’t come from being offensive or faceoff specialists. The other clear options are both LSMs, though, with Pat Masterson and Austin Polson-McCannon both playing plenty and very well last year. Will one of them move to close D to get both on the field more frequently? It wouldn’t surprise – as much as it may feel like a waste of athleticism to have an LSM play close, it’s even more wasteful to have him play “sit on the bench because the other guy is on the field.”

The second short-stick defensive midfielder is either going to have to be a two-way guy (perhaps Hess, as mentioned above), or someone who has yet to prove himself on the college level. Connor Maks, who played a bit as a redshirt freshman but missed al of last year with an injury, is one potential option.

Close defense

The Titans’ defense wasn’t too bad last year, allowing a .305 offensive efficiency to opponents despite plenty of turnover-fueled fast-break opportunities on which the offense/transition were as much to blame as the D. The problem is that the primary starters here have moved along.

Jordan Yono and Paul Bitetti were both multi-year starters, and though Bitetti will be on the staff as an undergraduate assistant, it would feel a whole lot better if he was able to actually suit up. Will Kane started every game alongside that duo as a sophomore last year, and will now have to be the lynchpin of the defense. Sophomore Sam Horton (who started one game in Bitetti’s stead last year) is a potential starter, as well. He appears to be physically ready at 6-1, 192. Tracis Sparling is listed as a redshirt freshman, but that’s a mistake (he’s a redshirt sophomore), and although he didn’t do much statistically last Spring, he saw action in 11 games, at least. It’s possible that one of the aforementioned LSMs joins the unit, or that there’s a position-switch starter here. Either way, the unit around him is going to have question marks.

Goalie

Fortunately for a close defense that will take a little while to come together, they have perhaps the best goalie in the country backing them up. I’ve made it no secret my opinion of Weber’s talent, and although his save percentage is good-not-spectacular (.541), he’s doing it behind the defense described above, not wave after wave of IL top-100 recruits like most of the other keepers near the top of the national rankings in the stat.

Weber should be able to steal some games as long as the defense in front of him manages to jell at some point. It’s gong to be a tough task, but he’s one of the best shot-stoppers nationally. That’s al you can ask for (well, not all: he’s been a liability in the clearing game at times, though experience should help).

The backup role is officially a question mark, with neither sophomore Michael Turnbull nor freshman Logan Shamblin having seen playing time yet. We’ll see if Weber can remain effective and in the good graces of his coaches enough to keep the backups irrelevant.

Overall

The offense should take huge strides with most of the top players back. The defense is going to be a huge question mark with very few of the top players back.

Where Detroit will probably win and lose games is in possession. They’ve been turnover-happy since time immemorial, even when they have players from geographic areas that would lead you to believe they’ll have good sticks and solid decision-making (such as the Canadians and Long Islanders we’ve seen a good number of over the years). Those turnovers give away an offensive possession and produce fast-break opportunities for opponents. Those are two things the Titans can’t afford.

The heavy ride and aggressive defense have faded in the past couple seasons with Chris Kolon’s staff taking full control of the program, which is sad in terms of how much fun they are, but should theoretically result in a little more stability on defense and offense: if your philosophy is chaos, your games are going to be chaotic.

Is a less chaotic team worth it if they’re not turning that stability into more wins? I don’t think the question is going to be relevant this year with a step forward.

The opportunity

Unless the defense just can’t get it done, I don’t see a way this team finishes sixth in the MAAC. They seem to get doubted in the pre-season poll each and every year, and while they’ve yet to win the conference outright in the regular season (their only championship was the tournament title in 2013 that saw them make a serious play to upset Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament), they tend to outperform those low expectations.

A couple wins in the MAAC is hardly a lofty goal, but it would probably be more than most expect of the Titans. Winning enough games (typically three) to make it into the conference championship is totally reasonable. The non-conference schedule has both games that look pretty tough (Ohio State, Marquette, Air Force) and what should be chances to rack up wins (Mercer, Bellarmine, Cleveland State) mixed in with what should be a competitive bunch.

A winning record and a trip back to the MAAC Championships would be a very nice season for the Titans.

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The Next Level: Feb. 7, 2017

Our weekly look at Michigan natives who are playing college lacrosse at division-1 institutions this Spring. Only a couple relevant teams played over the weekend, but the season is official upon us:

Cleveland State 8, Michigan 13

  • Freshman defenseman Levi Peterson (Holt) – Did not see game action.
  • Freshman defenseman Garrett White (Ann Arbor Pioneer) – Played, but did not accrue any statistics.

Duke 10, Air Force 11

  • Junior midfielder Matthew Giampetroni (Cranbrook) – Did not see game action.

Manhattan 10, Bryant 17

  • Sophomore midfielder Robert Carroll (Grosse Pointe South) – Won 18/30 faceoffs, picking up nine ground balls and recorded an Assist. Also committed one turnover.

Michigan 13, Cleveland State 8

  • Freshman midfielder Ryan Prior (Birmingham/Culver Academy) – Did not see game action.
  • Senior faceoff specialist Brian Archer (Brighton) – Went 0/1 on faceoffs.

Providence 7, Boston University 8

  • Junior midfielder Josh Keller (East Grand Rapids/Kent School) – Did not see game action.

Robert Morris 11, Penn State 15

  • Freshman long-stick midfielder James Scane (Brother Rice) – Did not see game action.

 

If I’ve messed anything up, let me know in the comments, where you can also feel free to share statlines from other divisions.

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