The college lacrosse season breached its halfway point this past weekend, and that's cause for an unnecessary celebration. Accordingly, College Crosse is prepared to give out the Internet's most important college lacrosse midseason awards ever considered in the entire scope of history: Really pointless ones concomitant with actually giving out midseason awards. Put on that top hat and monocle, friend; you're officially entering the most exclusive awards party this side of everywhere.
COLLEGE CROSSE AWARD V: ACHIEVEMENT IN THE FIELD OF SELFISHNESS
Winner: Maryland Terrapins
Nobody in the country is playing with possession in their favor more than Maryland this season; that's the kind of unfairness that makes Congress drag people to Washington, D.C. for important questioning about greed and how it relates to the American Dream. On the year, the Terrapins, over the course of 60 minutes of play, are generating about eight-and-a-half more offensive opportunities than their opponents (on a percentage basis, Maryland holds a 56.60 possession percentage based on total possessions played). That's . . . well, that's just mean. In two of the major possession-generating statistics -- face-off play and clearing rate -- the Terrapins have very few peers: Maryland is drawing, on a raw basis, at 61.27 percent (fifth nationally, buoyed by Charlie Raffa's 58.5 winning percentage and Curtis Holmes' 66.7 winning percentage) and is clearing at almost 91 percent so far this year (eighth nationally). This level of creating and maximizing offensive possessions (note: Maryland is pushing around 95.26 percent of their offensive opportunities into the attack box to create a functional offensive opportunity) is the driving force behind the Terrapins' totality of dangerousness:
- Maryland is currently ranked sixth in adjusted offensive efficiency (37.24 goals per 100 offensive opportunities). It doesn't take a super genius to understand that an already efficient offense with extra opportunities is going to create damage.
- When Maryland shoots, they simply don't miss: Only one team -- Denver -- has a better raw shooting percentage than the Terrapins' 38.43 mark. Connectedly, opposing goaltenders probably want to try out a less demanding sport than lacrosse when facing Maryland (may I suggest Scrabble?): Opposing keepers are only holding a 40.61 save percentage, the second lowest mark in the country. (Those goalkeepers are also only ending about 26.48 percent of their team's defensive possessions with a save (the fifth lowest value nationally), which emboldens the notion that Maryland really hates people standing between the cages they hope to ruin.)
- When Maryland matriculates the ball into the attack box, they rarely give away scoring opportunities (only 38.59 percent of the Terps' trip into the attack zone have been lost due to a turnover, the 21st strongest mark in the nation) and when Maryland is in the box they are buzzing around and creating all kinds of problems for the opposing field defense -- only six teams are generating assists on a per-possession basis more than the Terrapins.
Maryland would still be a handful offensively if the Terps weren't playing with a ridiculous possession margin in their favor, but as they are, it makes Maryland one of the most dangerous teams in the country.
COLLEGE CROSSE AWARD VI: ACHIEVEMENT IN THE FIELD OF "YA SUSPECT!"
Winner: Marist Red Foxes
6-1 records aren't created equal, college boy, and as a result, I'm not sure that Marist is as strong as the Red Foxes' current record indicates. On the year, Marist's schedule ranks only 61st in opponent efficiency margin (based on opponents already played) and in opponent Pythagorean win expectation, the Red Foxes' already-played slate ranks a measly 60th. This isn't to say that Marist is a bad team -- they're not, and Keegan Wilkinson should receive a parade through downtown Poughkeepsie for the work he's done with his team in 2013 -- it's just that when you look a little deeper into how Marist has built its record, the Red Foxes haven't exactly toppled Berlin and then immediately beat back the oncoming robot revolution with only a gallon of ice cream and a big spoon.
Fortunately for Marist, though, they're not staring down a road ahead of them lined with explosive devices. Based on log5 predictions, the Red Foxes are -- at this point -- going to be heavily favored in their remaining games, but the questions surrounding just how legitimate Marist is -- relative to the rest of the country -- aren't going to fade any time soon: With an overall adjusted efficiency margin that ranks just 33rd in the country and a team Pythagorean win expectation of just 51.45 percent (33rd nationally), Marist still has work to do to prove that they're a crushing force of nature tucked away in Dutchess County.
COLLEGE CROSSE AWARD VII: ACHIEVEMENT IN THE FIELD OF TAKING A BEATING FROM THE BOOMSTICK
Winner: Jeff Lowman, St. John's
Lowman, the keeper for St. John's, deserves something really nice to happen to him. I'm not talking about a free tour of the petting zoo where he gets all the balloon animals he can carry at the end. No, I'm talking about something really nice, like a lifetime membership in the eat-hamburgers-all-the-time-and-never-gain-weight-while-also-having-bowel-movements-that-are-actually-rainbows club. That kind of nice.
The senior keeper has seen an obscene amount of rubber this year, and despite the volume of balls being thrown at him at dangerously high velocity levels, Lowman has thrived. To wit:
- No team has seen their keeper end more defensive possessions with a save than the Johnnies. At 45.02 saves per 100 defensive opportunities, Lowman has been not only the last line of defense but, in many ways, the totality of the defense in turning away the opposition. That's an incredible value, and it probably comes with a free ice bath daily.
- That saves-per-defensive-possession value is impressive on its own, but when you also consider that only one team in the country is permitting more shots per defensive possession than the Red Storm -- 1.37 per defensive possession -- you start to understand that Lowman isn't just ending defensive possessions with a save, but is also doing so while under heavy enemy fire (the volume at which makes others duck into a foxhole to avoid).
- Then there is the issue of the St. John's defense doing a bit of ball watching, leaving Lowman out to dry to make stops. On the year, the Johnnies rank 44th in defensive assist rate, yielding about 19.12 assisted goals against on a 100-possession basis. And yet, Lowman is holding a 58.6 save percentage, the ninth-highest individual mark in the country.
- Of course, it's also important to note that: (1) Lowman is doing this all as part of a defense that is currently ranked 41st in adjusted defensive efficiency; and (2) St. John's is playing in extra-man defensive postures at a per-possession rate that is slightly higher than the national average (the Johnnies rank 40th in the metric), forcing Lowman to make stops in difficult situations.
Congratulations, Lowman (both for the effort and, like, surviving existence)!