Patriot League Lacrosse Tournament Participant Profile: Lehigh

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Every Division I tournament. Every team. College Crosse has it all on lockdown. Please send cookies and naptime. Today we're slashing to bits the Patriot League Tournament.

Raise your hand if you thought in January that this site would be publishing a 900-word profile about Lehigh in the Patriot League Tournament.

Everyone with their hands raised are liars.

Anyway, here's the heat on Lehigh.

Lehigh Mountain Hawks: Two-Seed

For a more complete, mind-bending picture, here's a .pdf of the complete report.

LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 12-2 (5-1) Clear % 85.77% (20)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 31.74 (21) Opp. Clear % 80.25% (11)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 21.52 (3) Faceoff % 51.11% (28)
Poss. Percentage 51.6% (14) Pace 60.57 (53)
Off. Poss./60 min. 31.28 (45)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 29.29 (5)
Save Percentage 60.7%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.33 (22) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 22.02% (4) Goal Differential +54
Opp. Effective Sht. % 22.80% (4) Shooting % 27.91% (37)
Def. Assist Rate 11.92 (5) Effective Sht. % 28.62% (37)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.11 (36) Assist Rate 16.63 (32)
Man-Down Conversion % 29.55% (22) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.09 (50)
Man-Down Reliance 0.15 (50) EMO Conversion % 55.26% (1)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.29 (3) EMO Reliance 0.15 (12)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.42 (11)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.35 (50)

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

  • When people talk about Lehigh, they tend to first talk about the Mountain Hawks' defense. There's two reasons for that: first, Lehigh's defense is basically the Maginot Line; second, people are lazy and tend to parrot everybody else's thoughts. I can't illustrate the latter (other than, you know, showing you every college lacrosse website and telecast in the history of history), but I can the former: The Mountain Hawks are third in adjusted defensive efficiency nationally; limit opponents to just under a shot per defensive possession; opponents have a hell of a time canning the bean against Lehigh -- opponents are only shooting about 22 percent against the Mountain Hawks -- and a big reason for that is Matt Poillon's performance between the pipes (61.0 save percentage); its pretty much verboten that Lehigh's defense is going to yield an assisted goal from a preferential shooting location; and the Mountain Hawks generate turnovers at a rate that is only surpassed by two teams -- Loyola and Detroit. There isn't even a point in peeling apart this defense because, as a whole, it's bonkers. There are probably only two teams that, defensively, have performed as well as Lehigh this season (Notre Dame and Johns Hopkins) and even those two teams haven't done some things as well as the Mountain Hawks have. If defense wins championships, Lehigh has the inside track.
  • With that written, though, there is a bit of a concern about whether Lehigh has enough offense to move through the grind of the Patriot League and NCAA Tournaments. This isn't an offense that does anything particularly well -- much like Army, the Mountain Hawks' Patriot League Tournament semifinal opponent -- and the metrics above bear that out. What is of primary concern to me is that Lehigh has tended to rely on extra-man situations to generate its offensive tallies. The Mountain Hawks are ranked 12th-nationally in extra-man reliance, which is fine when you consider that no other team has converted better than Lehigh in the personnel imbalance, but is tempered by this fact: Only 11 teams have played with an extra attacker less than the Mountain Hawks. The Patriot League Tournament isn't featuring a lot of potential opponents that play in man-down defensive possessions all that much, so Lehigh is going to really need to maximize its six-on-six play over the weekend if it wants a fancy trophy. If they can start to hit their stride in the shooting department -- a dicey proposition at this stage in the season -- it may not be necessary to volumize the offense and the team's offensive efficiency should rise concomitantly. Getting more value out of guys like Roman Lao-Gosney and Patrick Corbett would take a bit off the load of David DiMaria and Dante Fantoni, arguably creating better circumstances for the unit as a whole.
  • Really good teams tend not to do really boneheaded things. While I think that Lehigh is a pretty damn good team, there is a thread of boneheadedness that concerns me a bit: The Mountain Hawks rank 40th in the country in penalties per possession and play a relatively high number of defensive possessions in man-down situations (the team has played the 36th-most man-down defensive possessions nationally). When you have a great stopper between the pipes that can neutralize a preferred shot created through the personnel imbalance, that kind of man-down rate tends to become somewhat muted. The problem I see, though, is that Lehigh's opponents are heavily relying on these man-down situations to score (only 11 teams have seen their opponents rely on personnel imbalance scenarios to score more than the Mountain Hawks). In other words, Lehigh has been crazy amazing in even situations defensively, but when they're allowing goals it's usually in man-down scenarios. Lehigh's three opponents in the Patriot League Tournament -- potential and actual -- sport some of the better man-up units in the country; if the Mountain Hawks start shooting themselves in the foot with boneheaded play, it could bite them hard.

For more on Lehigh's opponent -- Army -- check out the Black Knights' profile here.

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