Eulogizing the 2012 College Lacrosse Season: (60) Mercer

You spent the better part of four months meticulously dissecting the 2012 college lacrosse season. You shouldn't stop now because cold turkey is a bad way to go through life, man. College Crosse is providing decompression snapshots of all 61 teams and their 2012 campaigns, mostly because everything needs a proper burial.

I. VITAL SIGNS

Team: Mercer Bears

2012 Record: 1-13 (Independent)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -4.54 (59)

2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -3.57 (61)

Winning Percentage Change from 2011: -0.55%

2012 Efficiency Margin: -24.79 (60)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: -2.38

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Bad teams tend to do a lot of stupid things. It's encoded in their DNA or something. (Don't believe me? Ask science. They'll back me up.) Mercer, despite being a bad team, actually bucked that trend a little bit in 2012: The Bears committed the fewest penalties per possession in the country and only two teams played in man-down situations less than Mercer. That's something! Even though Mercer's opponents never really needed the personnel imbalance to score against the Bears, it's still nice to see a team not pull its own plug ("I want to live, dammit!").

III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT

  • So, everything I wrote under the first bullet point? It's kind of eroded with this fact: Mercer turned the ball over on about 61 percent of its offensive opportunities this season. That's how you end up with the worst adjusted offensive efficiency in the country. Bad teams (even though they're usually really good at it) simply can't turn the ball over if they hope to compete. This is the second consecutive season that the Bears have turned the ball over at a rate above 60 percent (in 2011, Mercer gave the bean away on about 66 percent of their offensive opportunities). Value the ball, pass and catch like functional beings, and stay out of bad situations. That's how you go from a schizophrenic bad team to a bad team that is going to make you straight outplay them. Mercer has only half of the equation right now.

IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .

  • Mercer really can't make its schedule easier -- which is the shuckster's method for win improvement -- and it's not like Jason Childs is going to be getting a huge influx of talent over the next three months. So, what can you fix to maybe pick up a win or two? Eliminate the stupid. Three months of wall-ball punishment for the entire roster. Gauntlets on the run to teach ball protection. Relentlessly working on the team's clearing game (Mercer was third-worst nationally at getting the ball out of their own end in 2012). Basically, hammering home the basics of the game until all that desire to wreck things is out of everyone's system. That's how you become a pain-in-the-ass-yet-still-pretty-terrible team. And that isn't a bad spot for the Bears to get to.

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