Big East Lacrosse Tournament Participant Profile: Syracuse

Apr 1, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Syracuse Orange attack Collin Donahue (17) brings the ball up field against Duke Blue Devils defender Bill Conners (55) at the Big City Classic at MetLife Stadium. Duke Blue Devils defeat the Syracuse Orange 12-10. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

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 Big East Tournament.

I'm warning you all right now: If Villanova bounces Syracuse from the Big East Tournament on Thursday, most of DeWitt is going to burn. Sorry, DeWitt. It was nice driving through you 10 years ago.

Anyway, here's the heat on Syracuse.

Syracuse Orange: Three-Seed

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

SYRACUSE ORANGE
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 7-7 (3-3) Clear % 87.06% (12)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 29.47 (33) Opp. Clear % 80.00% (8)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 26.21 (13) Faceoff % 46.88% (41)
Poss. Percentage 49.45% (39) Pace 71.64 (9)
Off. Poss./60 min. 35.43 (13)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 36.21 (52)
Save Percentage 49.1%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.26 (58) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 30.47% (42) Goal Differential +5
Opp. Effective Sht. % 31.57% (43) Shooting % 27.72% (39)
Def. Assist Rate 13.61 (13) Effective Sht. % 28.42% (39)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.10 (29) Assist Rate 17.54 (26)
Man-Down Conversion % 46.15% (51) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.12 (11)
Man-Down Reliance 0.18 (56) EMO Conversion % 35.00% (31)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.25 (19) EMO Reliance 0.15 (12)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.43 (11)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.36 (53)

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

  • Remember those Syracuse teams that would simply run teams over with metric tons of goals? Well, this isn't one of those Orange teams. In fact, it's far from those Syracuse clubs. As of Monday, the Orange had one player -- Tom Palasek -- that ranked in the top-100 in total offensive value (points per 100 offensive possessions), and he only came in at 58th. That's not historical Syracuse lacrosse, but it is 2012 Syracuse lacrosse. Due to extended periods of incohesion between the midfield and the attack (and between each unit individually), the Orange offense is nothing more than average with, arguably, above-average talent. Shooting woes have consistently plagued this team all season -- as evidenced by the mediocre raw shooting percentage -- and a lot of that has to do with shot selection. (Opposing goalies are eating up the Orange, as evidenced by the incredibly high saves per defensive possession value and also because your eyeballs work and you've seen Syracuse fire the bean this season.) The Orange hasn't really gotten a break in terms of the defenses they've seen this season -- only nine teams have played a schedule featuring more staunch defensive units -- but that doesn't alter the fact that this Syracuse team struggles at canning the bean. Which probably makes Slugger weep at night.
  • When teams have struggled scoring and need to rely on volume to make the scoreboard blink, the issue can be mitigated through two means: (1) dominating the possession margin game; and (2) maximizing offensive possession opportunities. Syracuse has struggled with the former all season long and the latter has become an issue as of late for the Orange. On the year, Syracuse is in a negative possession margin position, owing itself almost exclusively to a 46.88 percent face-off rate (41st-"best" in the country). Brian Megill has helped in this metric a shade, but in the overall, this is still the biggest culprit to Syracuse's inability to generate the boatload of offensive possessions that the Orange seem to need in order to score. With respect to maximizing offensive possession opportunities, over its last two games -- home to Georgetown and at Notre Dame -- Syracuse only cleared at a combined 78 percent rate (for context, only five teams on the year clear at lower than a 78 percent clip) and carried a turnovers per offensive opportunity rate of .578 (that means that on 100 offensive opportunities, Syracuse would have turned the ball over on almost 58 of the chances with the bean). For a team that has struggled all season long in efficiently canning the bean, this self-immolation is easily the Orange's biggest black eye entering postseason play.
  • As it is May, the Syracuse goalie situation isn't likely to change (i.e., improve) before the close of the 2012 season. None of the Orange's stoppers are saving the bean at a clip above 50 percent and that has really been the linchpin to Syracuse's defensive success. There just isn't enough between the pipes at this point in time where the Orange can rely on their stopper to end defensive possessions. The consequence has been a zone-man mix in the defensive end from Leland Rogers that has had yielded mixed results. This is a defensive posture that does create a fair amount of turnovers on both the ride and in the defensive box, but opponents -- often through one-on-one preferred matchups -- beat their man and, without a sure stopper between the cage, stick tallies home. In the overall, it shows well from an adjusted efficiency standpoint, but without more consistent play between the pipes it doesn't matter that the six cats out in front of Bobby Wardwell are limiting shot opportunities, generating turnovers, and limiting assisted attempts; Wardwell just has a hard time getting his stick on shots, which isn't particularly unique for a freshman.

For more on Syracuse's opponent -- Villanova -- check out the Wildcats' profile here.

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