College Lacrosse at the Three-Quarter Pole: The Top 10

Locked and loaded. via images.lax.com

You guys!

The college lacrosse season is three-quarters over, you guys!  For fans of Wagner, that has got to be a relief.  There's only so much losing the body can handle, and the Seahawks have assaulted their body with it since the opening face-off of the season. 

For most other folks, though, this is where stuff starts getting good.  Not only are conference tournaments right around the corner, but the big show -- the NCAA's (or, alternatively, "The Lacrosse Prom") -- is just about a month away.

Oh, baby!

I updated the ol' efficiency workbook and you can access it right here.  It should reflect all games played through this past Monday (April 11, 2011). At this point in the season, everyone has their resume.  The contenders are starting to emerge and those with potentially fatal flaws are starting to show them.  Despite this, it's still anyone's game.

Below are a few top-10 charts for both team and player statistics. I provide brief commentary after each table.

TOP 10: ADJUSTED DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
RANK TEAM A.D.E.
1. Notre Dame 18.47
2. Syracuse 20.68
3. Johns Hopkins 21.14
4. Bucknell 21.78
5. Army 21.94
6. Maryland 22.04
7. Ohio State 22.15
8. Virginia 22.73
9. Fairfield 22.85
10. Hofstra 23.26

If defense wins championships then you need to look at Notre Dame as a legitimate threat to return to Memorial Monday. The Irish are a disciplined defensive squad, anchored by the highly capable Jack Kemp.  Kevin Corrigan's squad thrives off its defensive efficiency, and it's not surprising that the team is currently unbeaten.

Also: If I told you 360 days ago that Johns Hopkins would have a top-five defense featuring tons of youth you'd probably smack me in the nose, right?  Hell, you might have done that in January of this year.

TOP 10: ADJUSTED OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
RANK TEAM A.O.E.
1. Cornell 38.74
2. Drexel 36.33
3. Denver 36.22
4. Duke 35.07
5. Villanova 35.01
6. Virginia 34.22
7. Stony Brook 34.07
8. Robert Morris 33.94
9. North Carolina 33.53
10. Notre Dame 32.73

This is what makes the Big Red so scary.  They are an offensive firecracker, converting on a ridiculous number of their offensive opportunities.  When you have a guy like Rob Pannell setting the pace for an attack (as shown below), a lot of really good things happen.  The offense is where Cornell really makes its money (the team is 17th in adjusted defensive efficiency) and if you can slow down the Big Red, you might be able to bite them.

Point of Fact: Syracuse's adjusted offensive efficiency is ranked 20th nationally.  While there is concern about the Orange taking draws, a similar concern should exist relative to how well the offense has played in the overall this year.  Zone offense, anyone?

TOP 10: ADJUSTED EFFICIENCY MARGIN
RANK TEAM A.E.M.
1. Notre Dame 14.26
2. Cornell 13.44
3. Virginia 11.50
4. Denver 10.33
5. Maryland 10.25
6. Johns Hopkins 9.73
7. Syracuse 9.60
8. Duke 9.46
9. Pennsylvania 8.78
10. Hofstra 8.53

This is where you identify your title contenders.  You can have a great defense, but if you can't score there could be trouble.  Same for the inverse.  Truly great teams -- 1990 Syracuse, 2006 Virginia, etc. -- have efficient offenses and defenses, and Notre Dame is flirting with that despite how the Irish go about their business. 

As I've written a lot this year: Notre Dame may not have the best players in the nation, and they may play a mind-numbing style, but nobody does what Notre Dame does better than the Irish.  That is a team that flat-out executes.

Also: Don't sleep on Denver.  The victory over Duke may have alleviated some doubts about the Pioneers.  They have two of the best offensive players in the country in Matthews and Demopoulos and are piloted by one of the best coaches in the game in Bill Tierney.

TOP 10: TOTAL OFFENSIVE VALUE
RANK PLAYER TEAM T.O.V.
1. R. Pannell Cornell 15.71
2. S. Perri Drexel 14.97
3. J. Boltus Army 13.18
4. K. Crowley Stony Brook 11.94
5. M. Matthews Denver 11.38
6. K. Cunningham Villanova 10.98
7. T. Moore Robert Morris 10.88
8. N. Galasso North Carolina 10.78
9. P. Baum Colgate 10.58
10. S. Sturgis Penn State 10.49

You can argue whether a defensive player should win the Tewaaraton Trophy, but among offensive players Rob Pannell is in his own class.  Pannell is the spark plug to the most efficient offense in the country.  He's putting together a terrific season.

TOP  10: OFFENSIVE RATING
RANK PLAYER TEAM O/R
1. S. Perri Drexel 8.68
2. T. Moore Robert Morris 8.53
3. P. Baum Colgate 8.08
4. T. Perini Lafayette 7.99
5. J. Doherty Marist 7.96
6. G. Thul Army 7.75
7. R. Pannell Cornell 7.71
8. M. Sawyer Loyola 7.67
9. D. Emala Georgetown 7.38
10. M. Matthews Denver 7.14

These are your finishers (it ranks goals per possession).  Robert Morris' style -- somewhat reminiscent of Loyola Marymount in college basketball under Paul Westhead -- catapults Trevor Moore into the top-10.

TOP  10: ASSIST RATE
RANK PLAYER TEAM A/R
1. J. Boltus Army 8.27
2. R. Pannell Cornell 8.00
3. C. Winkoff Pennsylvnaia 6.56
4. N. Galasso North Carolina 6.47
5. S. Perri Drexel 6.29
6. C. Rice Marist 5.73
7. M. Langan Loyola 5.57
8. D. Clancy Rutgers 5.54
9. S. Sturgis Penn State 5.24
10. K. Crowley Stony Brook 5.16

Scott Perri is a poor man's Rob Pannell, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  If Drexel hopes to make a run at the CAA/THUNDERDOME! crown the Dragons will need Perri to continue to make that engine purr.

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