Big City Classic Profile: Duke

Target: Your head. Range to Target: OH MY GOD IT'S SO CLOSE! via www4.pictures.zimbio.com

Remember when Duke was really good and made a run at the national title on the back of a terroristic offense?  Remember that? 

I do, but I'm not sure if my memory is of last year or if I'm having a future memory of Memorial Day Weekend 2011.

Duke is back -- riding high on a seven-game winning streak -- and are bringing their offensive showcase to New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday for the Big City Classic.  John Danowski has weathered the storm of losing a ridiculous number of graduating contributors and has on his hands one of the toughest outs in college lacrosse.

DUKE (8-2, 2-0): ACC

What Duke Does Well

  • Avoid the Man-Down.  It's pretty simple: If you avoid being an idiot, you won't lose games like an idiot. Duke has done that, primarily by not committing penalties.  The Blue Devils are basically the the polar opposite of St. John's.  While teams are shooting fairly well against Duke with the extra-attacker (opponents are converting on 31.25 percent of their man-down opportunities, around 33rd-"best" in the country), Duke simply isn't giving their opponents those opportunities to convert.  Ready?  Set?  Chart!

    DUKE HATES MAN-DOWN
    METRIC VALUE RANKING AVERAGE
    Penalties Per Possession (Given) 0.0489 13 0.0616
    Man-Down Per Possession 0.0961 15 0.1171

    So, it doesn't matter much that Duke is only about average at stopping opponents from converting with the personnel imbalance as the Devils simply aren't in the man-down all that much.
  • Commit Goalie Violence.  Let's start with a chart:

    DUKE HATES YOUR GOALIE
    METRIC VALUE RANKING AVERAGE
    Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 35.89 2 27.9931
    Offensive Shots Per Possession 0.9945 33 0.9953
    Offensive Effective Shooting Percentage 36.44% 1 28.54%
    Offensive Shots on Goal Per Possession 0.6298 17 0.5890
    Offensive Assist Rate 18.23 11 15.02
    Opponent Saves Per Possession 0.2735 10 0.3132

    I think that the first-glance realization is important: Duke isn't taking loads of shots on the offensive end, but they are converting the shots that they do take at an incredible rate.  The second realization shows why this is happening: The Devils are getting good looks from helpers.  The last realization is scary: A large majority of Duke's shots are right on cage and opposing goalies simply can't stop these shots on goal.  In short, pin-point accuracy through smart and limited shot selection.  Dangerous.

What Duke Doesn't Do Well

  • Dominate the Man-Up. You would think that with Duke's hyper-efficient and accurate offense that the Devils would be killing with the extra-attacker.  Wrong:

    DUKE HATES THE MAN-UP
    METRIC VALUE RANKING AVERAGE
    Extra-Man Conversion Rate 24.07% 42 31.09%
    Extra-Man Opportunity Per Possession 0.1492 11 0.1183
    Extra-Man Opportunity Reliance 0.1008 44 0.1309
    Penalties Per Possession (Opponent) 0.2735 10 0.3132

    Weird.  The Devils are on the man-up a lot and just aren't getting it done in those scenarios, content to beat its opponents while even.  Just imagine if Duke was murdering with the extra-man: Effective shooting percentage provides extra-weight to man-up (and -down) goals; Duke's potential rate would be through the roof. 

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