INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 09: A Michigan Wolverines cheerleader performs during the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 9, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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: Michigan Team Ones
2012 Record: 1-13
2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.04 (34)
2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): N/A (Didn't exist. No doink.)
Winning Percentage Change from 2011: +7.14% (Or N/A. Whatever.)
2012 Efficiency Margin: -12.28 (58)
Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: N/A (Do you follow, boy-oh?)
II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT
- Look: The fact that Michigan stepped up to the plate and went head first into Division I play is enough to merit all the gold stars. When you combine it with two other circumstances -- (1) that Michigan went into this with 26 underclassmen (17 freshman and nine sophomores); and (2) that the team played the 34th most difficult schedule in the country -- simply choosing to compete (nevermind knocking off Mercer and hanging tough with Jacksonville, Ohio State, and Rutgers) is impressive. Michigan, by virtue of its conference affiliation and its non-conference schedule, could have folded it up early and often this season; John Paul, however, did a nice job not only navigating the waters but getting his team on and off the bus each week. While the Wolverines didn't finish the year with the win count that may push other programs to venture into Division I, Michigan did show the way (which is exceedingly important).
III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT
- As this was Michigan's first season in Division I, it wouldn't be all that fair to dig up the Wolverines' uglier aspects (mostly because there are lots of them). This was a first-year program and it, expectedly, didn't show well in most metrics on either side of the ball. Michigan was, for the most part, out-talented each time it stepped on the field in 2012 and until that changes a little bit, Michigan is going to be facing defensive and offensive challenges on every respective possession they play. That isn't something that makes you slap your hand against your forehead; it's just, rather, the state of Michigan's world right now. And that doesn't deserve any kind of special finger-waving.
IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .
- Adjust to the speed of the Division I game. The talent pipeline is still getting constructed, so the first fix here is getting a roster that was 63 percent comprised of underclassmen to function at the speed necessary to compete at the NCAA's highest level. Michigan was second-worst nationally at clearing the bean in 2012, 53rd in the country in turnovers per offensive opportunity, and only five teams were worse at the dot this season than the Wolverines. This kind of shakiness erases offensive opportunities and puts greater pressure on a defense that is attempting to nurture a young but potentially strong goalie in Emil Weiss. More refined execution in special situations and a general increase in ball protection will go a long way in getting Michigan out of the basement in most production metrics.