Face-Off Classic Participant Profile: Virginia

via www.baltimoresun.com

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.

Virginia is number one for a reason: They're the scariest machine manufactured in 2012 (so far). Steele Stanwick is the gasoline that powers the six-piston powerplant -- Colin Briggs, Mark Cockerton, Rob Emery, Chris Bocklet, Matt White, and Owen Van Arsdale -- but the reason the combustion is so powerful is the whole of the powertrain and not just the fabricated parts.

Here's the heat on Virginia.

VIRGNIA CAVALIERS (ACC)

I don't know if this iteration of Virginia is better than the undefeated 2006 version, but right now the numbers make the Cavaliers look just as imposing:

VIRGINIA CAVALIERS
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 6-0 Clear % 91.51%
Raw Off. Efficiency 39.91 Opp. Clear % 80.58%
Raw Def. Efficiency 24.71 Faceoff % 57.58%
Poss. Percentage 55.61% Pace 65.33
Off. Poss./60 min. 36.33
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 29.00
Save Percentage 60.55%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.38 OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 22.05% Goal Differential +44
Opp. Effective Sht. % 22.57% Shooting % 37.02%
Def. Assist Rate 13.22 Effective Sht. % 37.66%
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.11 Assist Rate 25.69
Man-Down Conversion % 30.00% EMO per Off. Poss. 0.08
Man-Down Reliance 0.14 EMO Conversion % 50.00%
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.30 EMO Reliance 0.10
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.37
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.28

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

  • If I had to describe a deadly offensive team that opponents are going to struggle with to overcome, it'd look like this: The team shoots well in both even and man-up situations; the team shares the ball at a high rate; the team doesn't need a bunch of shots per offensive possession, but still gets them; the team doesn't turn the ball over; and the team gets more offensive possessions per game than its opponent. That's basically an apocalypse situation for an opposing defense. It's also exactly what Virginia is. The offense concentrates itself a bit around Stanwick, but there's just so many weapons here that the offense as a whole is a beast to consider. I'll just throw this out there: Of the seven guys illustrated at the top of this piece, all are shooting above 30.00 percent on the season with six above 35.00 percent. How the hell do you stop all of this? Easy: You don't; you need to try and match it.
  • The tempo-free profile is painting this defensive image of Virginia: The Cavaliers are willing to let their opponents fire at the cage (as evidenced by the shots per defensive possession metric) from non-preferential shooting positions (as evidenced by the defensive assist rate) and let Rob Fortunato make the stop on the back end (as evidenced by the high saves per defensive possession metric). This isn't surprising given the nature of the zone that Virginia has unfurled this season. Against Cornell, though, this is going to be put to the test: The Big Red's offensive assist rate is through the roof (21.26 assist per 100 offensive possessions) and they get a bunch of shots per offensive trip (about 1.2). When you factor in that Cornell shoots, as a team, at about a 35 percent clip, Virginia is going to have to do some work (even with Rob Pannell sidelined with a foot injury for the Big Red). I'd expect Virginia to sit in its zone and generate caused turnovers on the ride. (The Cavaliers caused turnover rate is solid (not insane) and they're getting most of their turnovers on the ride anyway (opponents are only clearing at a 80.58 percent rate against Virginia).)
  • Don't get hung up on Virginia's pace value in the profile table. It's a bit misleading as the Cavaliers have been salting away games this season and passing on pushing the ball when in offensive positions. The Cavaliers still get after it, as evidenced in their 71-possession game against Syracuse last week (and, even then, Virginia deflated the pace late to hold its lead). What is potentially exciting is that Cornell has been running up the possessions in its three games this season: On the year, the Big Red are playing about 73 possessions per 60 minutes of play. I don't know if Ben DeLuca is going to want to push the pace on Saturday without Pannell, but there are signs that Cornell wouldn't mind a quicker game.

For more on Virginia's opponent -- Cornell -- check out the Big Red's profile here.

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