Independence Classic Participant Profile: Villanova Wildcats

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It's the marquee event of the weekend. Learn something, college boy.

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.

VILLANOVA WILDCATS
Record: 1-3
Conference: Big East
Spirit Animal: Boar
.pdf of Tempo-Free Profile: Here
Four Names to Know: Jack Rice (A); John LoCascio (LSM); Greg Stamatov (G); Will Casertano (A)
Two Things From My Genius Brain to Your Face:

  • Villanova's record is both deceiving and the illustration of the stark reality of truth: The Wildcats threw hands and managed to not totally bleed from their face in their three biggest games of the year -- against Lehigh, Drexel, and Princeton; in two of those games (Princeton and Drexel), Villanova looked like the better team for much of the game until things fell apart in the fourth quarter, leaving only the burning wreckage of would-be wins. Good teams find ways to win those games; average and below-average teams find ways to do the opposite and eventually run wind sprints. The Wildcats have hung around the latter category far too much this season, and their statistical profile shows it: Despite getting more than three possessions more than their opponents on a 60 minute basis, Villanova has only performed as an average team would, generating about 30 goals per 100 offensive opportunities (an adjusted mark that ranks the Wildcats 33rd in the country); despite the defensive insulation from these extra possessions, Villanova has struggled to stop opponents on an efficient basis, holding an adjusted defensive efficiency value that ranks just 38th in Division I. The result? An efficiency margin value that clocks in among the bottom-third of the nation (40th at -1.77). This is the distillation of "meh," people. Villanova is going to only tread water at this rate until some indicia of excellence starts to emerge.
  • Look: Villanova has played some screaming offenses so far this season (the Wildcats rank third in opposing offenses faced); Princeton and Drexel, two teams that Villanova had on the ropes, are among the most efficient offensive teams in the country. Regardless of that, concerns continue to linger as to whether Villanova's ceiling is limited due to the play that they're getting between the pipes. Holding just a 43.90 team save percentage (60th out of 63 Division I teams) and only seeing about 28 percent of their defensive possessions ended with a save (a mark that ranks just 54th in the nation), the Wildcats desperately need more consistent play from the goalkeeping position. Stamatov has the potential to shine in the crease, but he just hasn't provided a steadying force to the Villanova defense that separates above-average teams from average ones. If the Wildcats weren't creating turnovers at the rate that they are -- they're doing so at a rate that ranks fifth nationally in caused turnovers and the team is 16th overall in straight opponent turnovers per 100 offensive possessions -- Villanova's defensive situation would be even worse. As always, this isn't all Stamatov's fault -- just watch some highlights and you can see that fact as clear as day -- it's just that the Wildcats' goalkeeping situation, which has been uneven at best in recent seasons, continues to look like trouble for a team with potential.

For more on Villanova's opponent this weekend -- Pennsylvania -- check out the Quakers' profile here.

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