THUNDERDOME! Lacrosse Tournament Participant Profile: Towson

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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 THUNDERDOME! Tournament.

Writing about Towson in the THUNDERDOME! Tournament is like watching one of those video diaries from I Shouldn't Be Alive. Victory favors the lucky, and Towson's miraculous comeback victory over Hofstra on Long Island and a little help this weekend from Penn State pushed the Tigers into the warm embrace of postseason Valhalla. These are the days of our lives.

Anyway, here's the heat on Towson.

Towson Tigers: Four-Seed

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

TOWSON TIGERS
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 7-7 (2-4) Clear % 83.33% (33)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 27.69 (41) Opp. Clear % 84.38% (36)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 30.60 (35) Faceoff % 49.17% (35)
Poss. Percentage 49.10% (42) Pace 62.60 (47)
Off. Poss./60 min. 30.73 (48)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 31.87 (25)
Save Percentage 55.4%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.38 (7) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 26.58% (18) Goal Differential -23
Opp. Effective Sht. % 27.15% (19) Shooting % 31.27% (15)
Def. Assist Rate 20.44 (51) Effective Sht. % 31.90% (15)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.11 (41) Assist Rate 15.67 (38)
Man-Down Conversion % 36.00% (38) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.08 (55)
Man-Down Reliance 0.13 (39) EMO Conversion % 40.00% (18)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.18 (56) EMO Reliance 0.12 (34)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.49 (42)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.28 (12)

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

  • Here's what Towson does better than any team in the country: Keep goalie Andrew Wascavage on the roster. (Which, you know, as he attends Towson is probably a good thing.) Wascavage doesn't get as much heat as some other netminders in THUNDERDOME! -- ink always seems destined for Austin Kaut, Mark Manos, or Tim McCormack -- but the junior keeper has done a nice job this season. Not only is his save percentage (56.7) edging up toward the nation's top-ten, he's had to do it behind a defense that: (1) yields almost 1.2 shots per defensive possession (only four teams allow more per defensive possession); and (2) does a bit of ball watching, allowing opponents to rack up the assists and get the ball into preferential shooting positions (the Tigers' team defensive assist rate is 10th-worst in the country). As Towson isn't getting out on opponents to generate turnovers (only five teams create less turnovers per defensive possession than the Tigers), it has been Wascavage's relatively steady play between the pipes that has gotten Towson into the position they are in. You can make a strong argument that without Wascavage, the Tigers' overall adjusted defensive efficiency -- which is only hovering around the national average -- would be much worse. In other words, without Wascavage as the backstop, would Towson even be near the top-20 in defensive shooting percentage? No way, jerkface.
  • When Towson actually shoots the ball -- only one team gets off fewer shots than the Tigers in the offensive end -- the Tigers are pretty accurate. The raw offensive shooting percentage is indicative of that, but it's also shown more vividly in how often opponents are ending Towson offensive possessions via a save. This is a team that is capable of canning the bean, but there are three realities that temper the Tigers' ability to make lights blink on the scoreboard: (1) Towson isn't all that careful with the ball, turning it over at a high rate; (2) Connected to the first point, the Tigers give away a lot of offensive possessions with a fairly average clearing game that hovers at 33rd-nationally at only 83.33 percent; and (3) This Tigers offense is driven in large part by individual effort; with an offensive assist rate toward the bottom-third of the country, this isn't a team that shares the ball to the point where defenses need to keep their heads on a swivel at all times for fear of taking a throwing star to the neck. (It should be noted, however, that Tom DeNapoli and Matt Hughes have done a fairly good job at keeping the entire offense involved, but on the whole, this is still an unassisted, one-on-one offense in terms of production.) If the Tigers can do a better job at not shooting itself in the foot with turnovers, the team's offensive efficiency -- assuming there isn't a pronounced shooting slump -- should rise.
  • Outside of those two big bullet points, this is a pretty average lacrosse team. (As if the 7-7 record didn't already tell you that.) The problem for Towson in this tournament is that they're facing a decidedly above-average team in Massachusetts. In virtually all significant metrics the Minutemen outpace the Tigers. Now, that doesn't mean that Towson can't pull off the monumental upset, it's just that the Tigers are going to need to play well above their heads and push Massachusetts into playing well below their capability. Simply average teams don't win the THUNDERDOME! Tournament unless they play significantly stronger than their profile, and with Massachusetts being arguably one of the top-three teams in the country right now, Towson will have an even more difficult path to the postseason finals than THUNDERDOME! participants in the past.

For more on Towson's opponent -- Massachusetts -- check out the Minutemen's profile here.

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