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
2012 Record: 14-4 (4-1, NEC)
2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -3.57 (57)
2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -1.91 (54)
Winning Percentage Change from 2011: +30.72%
2012 Efficiency Margin: 3.84 (18)
Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: +6.80
II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT
- Lost among the shuffle of "THIS GUY IS THE BEST GUY AT MAKING THE OTHER BEST GUYS LOOK LIKE HOT GARBAGE!" was Jameson Love's dominant season between the pipes for Bryant in 2012. His 60.2 save percentage ranked third in the country last season, all while ending about 37 percent of the Bulldogs' defensive possessions with a save (that mark ranked 11th in the nation). Love's ability to turn away shots really pushed Bryant's overall defensive shooting percentage -- 22.04 percent (second nationally) -- and set the table for the Bulldogs to play aggressively and create turnovers knowing that the netminder could clean up any mess (Bryant's caused turnover rate finished the season ranked fifth in the country). Despite the fact that he only needed to see a schedule of opponent offenses that ranked 45th in the nation, Love's season was notable in that he was a major driver of the Bulldog's defensive success (even if that success was expected in most instances).
III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT
- Bryant is in a bit of a tough situation: The Bulldogs would likely want to play a tougher schedule, but given the development of the program under Mike Pressler, the teams that would increase Bryant's schedule strength likely don't want to touch the Bulldogs for fear of a non-conference loss. Still, though, Bryant's 14-4 record is partly the result of playing a lot of cream cheese in 2012. Only four teams had an easier slate last season than the Bulldogs and only one team faced a schedule featuring worse defenses. That doesn't necessarily mean that Bryant didn't have a good season or that the Bulldogs were a fraud; rather, it just means that Bryant wasn't challenged consistently from February to early May. The Bulldogs only played three teams -- Colgate, Drexel, and Yale -- that finished the year ranked in the top 20 in adjusted efficiency margin. Bryant was competitive in all three games (beating Drexel, losing in double overtime to Yale, and falling to Colgate, 10-8), but it's tough to look at a team that finished 14-4 and not note that a lot of those victories came against some underclassed competition. Pressler has this program going in the right direction, but it's hard to say that the Bulldogs are an absolute player until they get into the weekly grind that other nationally-relevant clubs are forced into.
IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .
- Leave Mike Pressler alone. That's it. Pressler has only been at Bryant since the 2007 season and has only had the Bulldogs playing at the Division I level since 2009. Bryant has come a really long way in that time -- they are, with Robert Morris, the class of the NEC (which may be a derogatory slur in some corners of college lacrosse) -- and are on the cusp of doing something really special. With the NEC likely getting its automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament starting in 2013, the nation is going to potentially get its first look at one of the hidden gems in New England lacrosse.