Eulogizing the 2012 College Lacrosse Season: (10) Virginia

May 20, 2012; Chester, PA USA; Virginia Cavaliers attack Steele Stanwick (6) drives against Notre Dame Fighting Irish defender Daniel Lantz (38) during the second half of the NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Quarterfinals at PPL Park. The Fighting Irish won 12-10. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

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: Virginia Cavaliers

2012 Record: 12-4 (2-1, ACC)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 2.14 (10)

2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 4.97 (2)

Winning Percentage Change from 2011: +2.78%

2012 Efficiency Margin: 7.70 (10)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: -2.34

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Folks have given me a lot of grief that I didn't give Steele Stanwick enough credit while he was at Virginia. It's not that I didn't think that Stanwick was a great player -- he was, and the only Cavalier that I'd put on the same level as Stanwick in recent history is Doug Knight -- it's just that he always seemed to be one of the nation's best three offensive players but never the best offensive force in a single season. I'm not sure if that makes a lot of sense, or even if I'm on point with that position, but that's kind of why Stanwick was subordinated a bit on the site compared to guys like Rob Pannell and Peter Baum. (Or I could have overt upstate New York sympathies, which probably isn't a drunken accusation.) I can, however, write this statement and believe its truth should be put in stone and passed down from generation to generation: There was no better player in 2012 than Stanwick at threading a ball through a defense and giving his besties opportunities to finish. Among the top-200 point producers last season, no player approached Stanwick's 9.44 individual assist rate (the next-closest was St. John's Kieran McArdle at 6.97). Stanwick's mark last year was half an assist better than Jeremy Boltus' value in 2011 and almost an entire assist better than Pannell's nationally-leading mark in 2010. Stanwick was the most important piece to an offensive machine in 2012, heavily responsible for helping six Cavaliers shoot above 30 percent last season (minimum: 30 shots). In the end, Stanwick's greatness was not just his talent, but his talent in making the guys around him so much better. He was a true attack, a quarterback with vision and an innate ability to make things happen.

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

  • It was freaky awkward not seeing Virginia play with the kind of pace that we have all grown accustomed to over the years. Hell, the Cavaliers' NCAA Tournament game against Princeton was one of the sloppiest messes of horror that didn't involve Bela Lugosi or people screaming callbacks in a darkened theater while wearing fishnet stockings. On the year, Virginia only played about 64 possessions per 60 minutes of play, a mark that ranked the Cavaliers 42nd in the country. That . . . that just doesn't feel good. The Cavaliers' pace actually pushed them out of the top 10 in the "Fun Factor" scale, which, yeah, I don't know either. It's really hard to create pace (and Dom Starsia talked about that at points last year), and when you're taking a bunch of shots per offensive possession and not slapping on a ferocious ride, pace is going to falter a little bit. I guess what I'm getting at is this: Virginia not racing is a frowny face, but it's understandable why the Cavaliers didn't really "go" a lot in 2012.

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

  • Starsia has a lot of pieces he needs to replace in 2013: Stanwick, Colin Briggs, Chris Bocklet, Matt Lovejoy, and Rob Fortunato (to name a few). That's not going to be easy, but there's lots of talent still hanging around Charlottesville. The biggest thing that Virginia needs to address, however, is finding an offensive identity that doesn't include Stanwick working from "X" and from goal-line extended. That had been a hallmark of the club for many years and now it's gone. I'm not sure how Starsia and Marc Van Arsdale get that done, but that has to be Priority One entering the fall season.

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