The Independence Classic invades not-quite-Philadelphia this weekend to provide lacrosse tripleheader excitement to the masses. The games face-off at noon on Saturday and ESPN3/WatchESPN is the only outlet on Earth -- extraterrestrial rights are held by a company pronounced "UMM [clicking sound]," but the name of that company is written in characters that regular humans cannot understand -- that will broadcast the slate. It's the marquee event of the weekend, and as such, some College Crosse-style profiles are necessary to get your face set for melting.
Conference: Big East
Spirit Animal: Smirking Snow Owl
.pdf of Tempo-Free Profile: Here
Four Names to Know: JoJo Marasco (M); Brian Megill (D); Derek Maltz (A); Bobby Wardwell (G)
Two Things From My Genius Brain to Your Face:
- Defensively, this looks like it could be another murder squad for the Orange. All the major metrics relative to defensive success point to Syracuse as a one of the nation's better defensive teams, but there is something lurking here that the statistical profile can't reflect at the moment: The loss of Brandon Mullins (and some lingering concerns about Bobby Wardwell's effort in the crease, but there isn't enough Internet real estate for me to address that). Mullins, a sophomore, had really started to come into his own this season, using his athleticism and physicality as a pivot point for Brian Megill and Dave Hamlin to do their thing in-close. Mullins isn't the stat sheet stuffer that Megill is, but his contributions this season -- both on the crease and otherwise -- were significant, especially in the Army and Virginia games. Sidelined at this point with season-ending surgery, the Orange now need to fill a void that was once an area of non-concern. Do Joe Fazio and Peter Macartney get additional looks in-close? Is this an opportunity for Kyle Carey to earn additional time, having served duty in all three games this season? Does Desko go off the map and start giving Ryan Palasek time? It's opaque at the moment, and against a dangerous St. John's offense this weekend, it's a difficult situation for the Orange to approach with limited preparation.
- Look: Syracuse's face-off play this season has been treacherous once again, forcing the Orange to play at about a one possession deficit compared to their opponents. However, at PPL Park, this may not be a huge issue for Syracuse: St. John's, similarly, has been just as bad as Syracuse at generating possession margin (but in slightly different ways (the binding tie that neither team has performed exceptionally at the dot)). If Syracuse can draw square or just above against the Johnnies and get some extra opportunities in its riding game against the Red Storm's abysmal clearing efforts, possession margin should flip in favor of the Orange, allowing an offense that needs a little bit of volume to score some extra opportunities (potentially transition ones, which are always more favorable from a scoring standpoint) while also insulating a defense that is now without one of its major cogs. It's a delicate issue, but one that the Orange may be able to work well within this weekend.
For more on Syracuse's opponent this weekend -- St. John's -- check out the Johnnies' profile here.