Eulogizing the 2012 College Lacrosse Season: (7) Colgate

May 20, 2012; Chester, PA USA; Colgate Raiders head coach Mike Murphy stands on the sidelines against Duke Blue Devils during the first half of the NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Quarterfinals at PPL Park. 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: Colgate Red Raiders

2012 Record: 14-4 (5-1, Patriot)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 2.14 (9)

2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.23 (20)

Winning Percentage Change from 2011: +9.03%

2012 Efficiency Margin: 8.95 (7)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: +7.90

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Colgate was a hell of a fun team to watch last year. In fact, if you watched Colgate play while holding a balloon and eating cotton candy, your brain would have exploded from your head due to the potent levels of fun you were having. On the "Fun Factor" scale -- a metric that simply attempts to measure how interesting and competitive a team is based on aspects of the game that I find enjoyable -- the Raiders finished third (behind only Bucknell and Massachusetts). That's exciting considering Colgate finished 25th in the same metric in 2011. It's just not where the Raiders finished in the "Fun Factor" scale that is important, though; it's how they performed in the underlying measures that comprise the metric: The Raiders were as competitive as any team in the country based on win expectation; only four teams played more possessions per 60 minutes of play than Colgate in 2012; the offense was just around the top-10 nationally in raw shooting percentage, buoyed by Peter Baum's, Ryan Walsh's, and Brendon McCann's ability to straight snipe; and Colgate was a flooding tide of an offense complemented by an aggressive defense. In short: the Raiders -- hidden from most of the nation save for CBS Sports Network flybys and NCAA Tournament broadcasts -- were as interesting and exciting as any team in the land; it's just not the ACC, Hopkins, and Syracuse that are playing the best brands of functional happiness anymore.

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

  • UPDATE: I'm not sure how I missed this, but Madison was banged up most of last year. The following should be read with that in mind. Colgate played a pretty difficult schedule in terms of opposing offenses faced (the slate finished as the eighth-hardest in the country last year) and managed to pull together a fairly nice defensive performance over the course of the season (the Raiders finished the season ranked 17th in adjusted defensive efficiency). That's the good news; the bad news is that Colgate accomplished this while rolling with a -- how should I write this? -- difficult goaltender situation. Jared Madison, Colgate's first-choice starter between the pipes until the NCAA Tournament, just didn't have the chops to turn away stops for a top-10 team. His 44.0 save percentage was dreadful, and among keepers playing at least 60 percent of his team's total minutes, Madison didn't even crack the nation's top-50 in save percentage. That's rough. The result of Madison's (and Connor Murphy's, but to a significantly muted degree) difficulty in ball stopping? The third-worst saves-per-defensive-possession value in the country and a raw defensive shooting rate (32.51 percent) that ranked 51st in the nation. This was a big problem for Colgate in 2012 as was, in many instances, masked with shootouts and a defense that generated lots of caused turnovers and thrived with an effective ride. A great goaltender doesn't necessarily book a trip to Championship Weekend, but an ineffective one can keep you out.

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

  • Mike Murphy should be in really good shape in 2013 to make a run at the Patriot League title and another NCAA Tournament invitation. The attack returns intact; the close defense -- headlined by the undervalued Bobby Lawrence -- returns intact; the midfield has lots of pieces to work with, including Rob Grabher and Matt Baker who will be asked to lead as seniors. The issue this coming season, as was the issue in 2012, is finding some consistent goalie play. Connor Murphy will likely get first crack at the job next year, and while he looked like a man falling from 50,000 feet during the NCAA Tournament last May (especially against Duke), he was thrown in the fire and asked to simply survive. If Colgate can get average play from between the pipes, the Raiders really become a dark-ish horse for a run at Philadelphia.

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