Face-Off Classic Participant Profile: Princeton

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The Face-Off Classic is dynamiting your lacrosse universe on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Six teams are set to square off in a triple-header starting at 11:00 A.M. Get your brain full of all kinds of delicious information with College Crosse's profiles of each of the festivals' participants.

The first game of the Face-Off Classic is going to be an adventure in curiosity: Princeton, only three games into its season and still trying to remove the taste of vomit from its mouth due to its 2011 campaign, will play North Carolina, a team that entered 2012 with high expectations but has been experiencing vapor lock in its combustion engine since its game against Navy two weeks ago. This match-up has the early feel of some tenuous groping, eventually some action, and, hopefully, a satisfying ending.

If it doesn't, at least you can get some chores done in the morning and not miss much.

Anyway, here's the heat on Princeton.

PRINCETON TIGERS (IVY LEAGUE)

It's a little early to be pushing some tempo-free stuff in a profile, especially for Princeton as the Tigers have only played three games. However, there are some things that the profile highlights -- and as I already made the table below -- it'll serve as the foundation for whatever rickety shack I build.

PRINCETON TIGERS
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 2-1 Clear % 88.00%
Raw Off. Efficiency 34.02 Opp. Clear % 85.48%
Raw Def. Efficiency 23.96 Faceoff % 57.58%
Poss. Percentage 50.26% Pace 64.33
Off. Poss./60 min. 32.33
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 32.00
Save Percentage 54.9%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.29 OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 29.87% Goal Differential +10
Opp. Effective Sht. % 30.09% Shooting % 27.73%
Def. Assist Rate 12.50 Effective Sht. % 28.15%
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.07 Assist Rate 23.71
Man-Down Conversion % 14.29% EMO per Off. Poss. 0.11
Man-Down Reliance 0.04 EMO Conversion % 27.27%
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.23 EMO Reliance 0.09
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.40
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.32

Three pieces of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:

  • Princeton has been doing a pretty good job at the dot this season, mostly due to Bobby Lucas and Peter Smyth winning draws at a 59.4 and 50.0 percent clip, respectively. This is going to be a big key for the Tigers on Saturday as North Carolina will roll out R.G. Keenan who is only winning 70.5 percent of his attempts. (Holy mother of God.) As Princeton hasn't exactly dominated possession percentage this season -- they're at about an even rate to their opponents -- and given the Tigers' desire to limit the amount of possessions that North Carolina's Death Squad of Death is able to control the ball and commit murder, Lucas and Smyth are going to have to have a big day with their clamps and pick-and-pops.
  • I'm not going to be blowing your mind when I tell you that Chris Bates doesn't want Princeton to play fast in an up-and-down extravaganza of functional wind sprints. (If I am blowing your mind with that statement, you need to stop watching Desperate Housewives and start watching actual college lacrosse.) The Tigers are playing at about 64 possessions in a 60-minute game -- which is actually frighteningly quick for Princeton compared to prior years -- but there's no way that Bates wants to get in a 70-possession game that suits Carolina's style. The easiest way to do this is to value the bean and avoid turnovers, which Princeton has done a pretty good job at in its first three outings; the other way to control this is by excelling in the pace factors -- clearing successfully (which Princeton has done well) and dominating the draw. Optimizing those offensive possession opportunities should allow Bates to push down total possessions and let Tom Schreiber and Jeff Froccaro do what the do -- make life a living hell for defensive players in long defensive possessions.
  • North Carolina has done a pretty fair job at limiting the number of shots it yields per defensive possession this year, even if its overall defensive efficiency is right around the national average. At less than a shot per defensive possession (0.93), the Princeton offense is going to have to make its attempts count against Steven Rastivo and the rest of the Tar Heel defense. The problem, of course, is that Princeton isn't exactly using a pen knife in its goal scoring surgery. (Look at those shooting percentages. Meh, right?) Luckily, North Carolina has been abysmal at keeping its head on a swivel on the defensive end: the Tar Heels' defensive assist rate (assists allowed per 100 possessions) is among the worst in the country. Contrastingly, Princeton's offensive assist rate is among the best in the country. If the Tigers can move the ball to positions conducive to scoring, North Carolina may not be prepared for it and Princeton's shooting percentage -- magically! -- should rise. This is probably the biggest key in the game, and not just because I wrote it on the Internet.

For more on Princeton's opponent -- North Carolina -- check out the Tar Heels' profile here.

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