ECAC Lacrosse Tournament Participant Profile: Loyola

via grfx.cstv.com

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 ECAC Tournament.

I'm not sure how to characterize Loyola this year. Maybe "Maladjusted grizzly bear with a cannon" fits? I'm not sure. Loyola is all sorts of merciless this season, and it's kind of a good thing: Angry crushing beasts in a rich angry crushing beast environment makes for excitement, even if the videographer becomes unseen collateral damage.

Anyway, here's the heat on Loyola.

Loyola Greyhounds: One-Seed

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

LOYOLA GREYHOUNDS
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 12-1 (6-0) Clear % 90.91% (1)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 33.71 (14) Opp. Clear % 82.40% (22)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 23.35 (6) Faceoff % 53.18% (20)
Poss. Percentage 53.53% (3) Pace 68.34 (15)
Off. Poss./60 min. 36.58 (7)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 31.76 (24)
Save Percentage 54.1%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.27 (55) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 24.74% (9) Goal Differential +63
Opp. Effective Sht. % 25.30% (9) Shooting % 30.04% (19)
Def. Assist Rate 13.49 (11) Effective Sht. % 30.77% (22)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.09 (16) Assist Rate 20.71 (14)
Man-Down Conversion % 35.14% (35) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.07 (59)
Man-Down Reliance 0.14 (43) EMO Conversion % 51.43% (3)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.30 (1) EMO Reliance 0.11 (38)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.37 (1)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.32 (32)

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

  • Loyola -- like most dominating teams -- has really made its bones this season by dominating the possession game (the Greyhounds play about five more possessions per 60 minutes of play than their opponents). What makes this dangerous for Loyola's opponents isn't so much that the Greyhounds can maximize their offensive opportunities -- Loyola is rolling with the 14th most efficient offense in the nation -- but rather that it suffocates opponents' offenses. A lot of the ink this season has been about the Greyhounds' offensive unit, especially Eric Lusby and Mike Sawyer, and that's warranted, but this is a highly undervalued defense: On the year, Loyola is ranked sixth in adjusted defensive efficiency at 23.35 goals per 100 defensive possessions and teams are only shooting 24.74 percent against them (there are only eight teams with a better defensive shooting rate). As the Greyhounds' defense is playing so sharply this year, the team's ability to mobilize greater offensive opportunities against defensive opportunities forces Loyola's opponents to maximize their relatively rare offensive possessions. When you also throw in the fact that Loyola's defense generally plays about two fewer defensive possessions per 60 minutes of play than the national average, you start to see how the formula works: (efficient defensive possessions) + (limited number of opportunities) = suffocation and defeat.
  • I touched upon this quickly in the first bullet point, but I'll unwind it a little more here. There are four things really feeding into that impressive adjusted defensive efficiency value: Loyola is limiting opponents from getting preferred looks at the cage (the team's defensive assist rate is solid at 13.49; as a result of that, teams are shooting pretty poorly against the Greyhound defense); Loyola is getting out on their opponents and closing offensive possessions with caused turnovers (no team in the country generating more caused turnovers per defensive possession than the Greyhounds); and the team isn't yielding all that many shots per defensive possession (only seven teams see fewer shots per defensive possession than Loyola, essentially eliminating elongated defensive possession that breed fatigue). Each piece of the puzzle limits the overall scoring opportunities for opponents, and when you throw in the fact that Jack Runkel is doing a pretty nice job at ball-stopping this season -- he holds a 55.9 save percentage -- the Loyola defense becomes a web of pain.
  • Loyola rolls with a bit of a volumized offense, although unlike other similar units across the country, the Greyhouds are still fairly efficient. Mike Sawyer and Eric Lusby are the hubs to the unit, but the team gets solid production from Justin Ward and Davis Butts as well. What you've seen out of this group this season is that they're willing to share the bean -- the team's offensive assist rate is ranked 14th nationally at 20.71 -- and it's also willing to pepper the cage with attempts -- only 10 teams fire more shots per offensive possession than Loyola. So, while the Greyhounds aren't going to win marksmanship awards (the team is hanging around the back-end of the top-third of the nation), it doesn't much matter because on a per-possession basis they're eventually getting the ball in the back of the net, usually via a helper and often after a bunch of rifle shots at the cage. It's finesse and brute force wrapped together that gets the job done without heavy reliance on man-up situations, which generally plagues teams that have a high rate of volume in their offenses. Plus, you know, Loyola never actually turns the ball over -- no teams commit fewer turnovers per offensive possession than the Greyhounds -- which emphasizes the fact that Loyola's offense (for their opponents) is just an eventual perpetrator of a kill.

For more on Loyola's opponent -- Denver -- check out the Pioneers' profile here.

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