Mar 2, 2012; Princeton, NJ, USA; Princeton Tigers head coach Chris Bates during the first quarter against the John Hopkins Blue Jays at Princeton. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-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: Princeton Tigers
2012 Record: 11-5 (6-0, Ivy)
2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.30 (32)
2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 3.44 (3)
Winning Percentage Change from 2011: +35.42%
2012 Efficiency Margin: 10.86 (4)
Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: +6.33
II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT
- HOT SPORTS TAKE: Princeton was pretty "meh" in 2011 (as if the 4-8 record didn't give that away). SECOND HOT SPORTS TAKE: Princeton wasn't all that "meh" in 2012 (as if the 11-5 record didn't give that away). In fact, the Tigers were among the more interesting teams in the country last season, finishing the year ranked seventh in the "Fun Factor" scale (a metric that merely attempts to quantify which teams play the most interesting brands of lacrosse based on a series of underlying factors -- pace, competitiveness, and offensive firepower). The improvement in the team's excitement -- which Chris Bates probably cares about as much as he cares whether I had pastrami or roast beef for lunch -- were notable: Princeton went from playing the fewest possessions per 60 minutes of play to playing the 42nd-most; the team's adjusted offensive efficiency improved around 15 positions; and the team's overall offensive shooting rate improved dramatically, moving from the 59th position in effective shooting percentage all the way to the top-third of the nation. This was a team that was dangerous, potent, and barely looked like the Princeton squad that took the field in 2011 (save for Tom Schreiber doing anything and everything to keep the Tigers in games). The Tigers were never given the credit they probably deserved in terms of the type of lacrosse they played in 2012, even though they were as watchable as Loyola and Duke.
III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT
- With guys like Schrieber, Jeff Froccaro, Alex Capretta, Mike MacDonald, and Tucker Shanley, you'd think that Princeton would have been a monster with the personnel imbalance in their favor. Think again, college boy. On the year, the Tigers ranked 42nd in extra-man conversion rate, a fact that probably makes Eskimos cry and causes children to release doves into the sky as a political statement. This wasn't a huge problem for Princeton last season -- only 17 teams played with the extra attacker less than Princeton and even fewer clubs relied on extra-man scenarios to make the scoreboard blink -- but it's still odd that a team with such strong offensive efficiency, buoyed by strong shooting accuracy (the team ranked 18th in raw offensive shooting percentage) and a proclivity to share the ball (only nine teams had a stronger offensive assist rate than Princeton), would struggle so much in man-up scenarios. For shame, Tigers. For shame.
IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .
- There's tons of young talent kicking around Princeton going into 2013, but Bates and Company, Ltd., is going to need to address their defensive gaps next season: Tyler Fiorito, John Cunningham, Chad Weidmaier, and Jon Meyers are all off to the real world of not getting the kind of Groupon deals that you think you deserve. There is talent in the back-end that remains -- Rob Castelo and Chris White, notably -- but with three out of the Tigers' top-four poles from 2012 gone (along with the program's rock-solid keeper), Greg Raymond is going to have his work cut out for him when coordinating this defense.