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: Loyola Greyhounds
2012 Record: 18-1 (6-0, ECAC)
2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.51 (27)
2011 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 2.07 (9)
Winning Percentage Change from 2011: +33.20%
2012 Efficiency Margin: 11.80 (2)
Efficiency Margin Change from 2011: +11.55
II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT
- Well, first, Loyola won the national championship in 2012. That probably deserves a pat on the back and a Certificate of Merit. (No doink.) Other than that, though, what really impressed me about the Greyhounds -- other than an 18-1 record (the lone loss coming in a heartbreaker against Johns Hopkins in overtime) -- was that Charley Toomey and his staff got the entire program to buy in and get all of the little things done: Nobody caused more turnovers per defensive possession than the Greyhounds; nobody cleared the ball as well as Loyola did last season, maximizing their opportunities to potentially can the bean; only one team -- Hopkins -- turned the ball over less than Loyola; only six teams took fewer penalties per possession than the 'Hounds (and only 10 teams played in man-down less than Loyola on a per-possession basis); the Greyhounds clicked on extra-man opportunities (even though Loyola rarely played in these postures on a per-possession basis), finishing 44.44 percent of their attempts (a mark that placed the club eighth-nationally in the metric); and, in part due to J.P. Dalton's man-work at the dot, finished the season +3.51 in possession margin (the eighth best mark in Division I). It's not fashioning a rocket out of cream cheese and coupons from the local deli; it's lacrosse, and when you do all the little things that limit your opponents from preferential success opportunities and maximize yours, the sun -- in general -- is going to shine on your face and stuff.
III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT
- You can't really knock an 18-1 effort that ends with a national title (earned over Championship Weekend in dominate fashion). (I guess you can, but that'd make you a huge jerk that deserves a face-punch and a wedgie.) Although, if I did have to scrounge around for something that looks icky, it'd be this: With Sawyer, Lusby, Ward, and Associates, Inc., I kind of expected the 'Hounds to shoot a little better than they did last season. On the year, Loyola shot -- in the aggregate -- at a raw 29.93 percent (that rate was good for 22nd in the country). That isn't necessarily bad, but when viewed in this context -- only 15 teams saw their opponents make more saves per possession than Loyola's enemies -- it is a little odd that the Greyhounds had some mild issues with accuracy and burning the ball past opposing keepers. (Again, that isn't to say that Loyola ran with an impotent offense; the 'Hounds did run with a top-10 offense in terms of adjusted efficiency.) It's just this: With the kind of weapons that were on the field, I expected indicia of accuracy to be higher. That's all. (I anxiously await your emails full of hurt feelings.)
IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .
- The fix isn't a fix at all: Don't screw it up in 2013. The Greyhounds return as much production and contribution as any team in the country and, I am to assume, will likely show up in everybody's top-three come preseason polling time. That doesn't guarantee that Loyola is going to run at another title, though: Since 1971, only four programs -- Syracuse (1988-1990; 2008-2009); Johns Hopkins (1978-1980; 1984-1985); Princeton (1996-1998); and Cornell (1976-1977) -- have turned the trick as repeating as champions. Toomey needs to focus on letting his players let 2012 receded into the abyss and treat 2013 as a new challenge with familiar faces. It's all there for the 'Hounds to grab again next season; it's just a matter of whether Loyola can attack this all anew.