Eulogizing the 2012 College Lacrosse Season: (12) Cornell

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 29: Cornell Big Red fans look on before game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2010 NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse Semifinal Championship game on May 29, 2010 at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/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: Cornell Big Red

2012 Record: 9-4 (4-2, Squash at Noon? Conference)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.96 (24)

2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.62 (17)

Winning Percentage Change from 2011: -13.12%

2012 Efficiency Margin: 6.65 (12)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: -6.06

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • After Rob Pannell caught a flat tire against Army, things could have really fallen apart for the Big Red in 2012 (at least offensively). As much as any player in the country, Pannell was the primary cog to an offense that had the ability to go all Moonraker on college lacrosse: He could hurt the feelings of opposing goalies all by himself; he could spread the emotional trauma around, getting the entirety of the offense into the show; and his presence simply forced opposing defenses to concentrate on him, allowing guys like Connor English and Roy Lang to work with a little more room and presence. Despite everything that Pannell meant to Cornell, the Big Red held it all together on the offensive end, finishing the year ranked seventh in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency. It's not just where the unit finished in terms of efficiency that's impressive; it's all the underlying things that are noteworthy: (1) Pannell had become a heavy usage/ball carrying machine for Cornell, yet the Big Red were in the top-10 nationally in fewest turnovers per offensive possession in 2012; (2) The emergence of guys like Matt Donovan and Max Von Bourgondien was impressive considering they weren't allowed to operate in an offense in which Pannell drew all the attention; (3) the leveraged approach to Cornell's offense in Pannell's absence was sharp, having English and Steve Mock carry a heavier load. This was an offense that continually hammered the brick and maximized the extra three possessions per 60 minutes of play that it earned against its opponents.

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

  • The Big Red's goaltender situation in 2012 was a hot mess of taco poop, but that's not the biggest frowny face point for Cornell last season. That honor goes to the Red's three-game losing streak to end the season. Cornell was on the brink of putting itself in, at a minimum, a shot at an at-large selection for the NCAA Tournament before a three-game stretch against Brown, Princeton, and Yale. The most disastrous aspect of Cornell's el foldo in late April and early May was what happened to the Big Red's offense: A general model of efficiency throughout the year, the unit performed well below its average mark in its last three contests (marked by a 21.43 value against Brown (for context, Manhattan's (a team that was shut out twice in 2012) season adjusted offensive efficiency value was 22.00)). That's not how you cash lottery tickets and buy yachts and stuff. Combined with two other set of circumstances in those final games -- atrocious defensive performances against Princeton and Yale; eye-bleeding clearing performances against Yale and Brown -- and you have to wonder what happened to a club that drubbed Syracuse in Ithaca just before the stretch.

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

  • This is easy peasy: Let Pannell do his thing. Pannell is going to have to sit out the fall season and train on his own, so there is a bit of concern about his conditioning for the spring. However, if his performance in Vail is any indication, Red fans shouldn't have too much to worry about in terms of rustiness. Finding some form out of A.J. Fiore and Andrew West is an obvious issue, but if Pannell is able to come back and cut some fools, Cornell may be able to simply overwhelm opponents as Colgate did in 2012 (although the circumstances between Colgate last season and Cornell in 2013 have some significant differences).

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