CAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview: Towson-Drexel

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Get your face ready for Tigers-Dragons.

Every Division I tournament. Every team. College Crosse has it all on lockdown. Please send cookies and naptime. Today we're slashing to bits the THUNDERDOME! Tournament.

This is where THUNDERDOME! asserts itself as one of the more interesting leagues in the nation: Two teams with disparate styles and attributes squaring off in a game that is almost a push. Both Drexel and Towson aren't looking spectacular for at-large NCAA Tournament invitations at this point (the Dragons are in a much stronger position than the Tigers), but THUNDERDOME! often turns at-large hopes into automatic invitation realities. This is easily the best game of the day on Wednesday, and it may be one of the more intriguing tournament matchups this conference tournament season.

THE COMPUTING MACHINE SAYS

Log5: Towson (46.55%); Drexel (53.45%)

DOSSIERS

THUNDERDOME! Tournament: Towson (3) vs. Drexel (2)
TOWSON TIGERS DREXEL DRAGONS
OPPORTUNITIES/TEMPO
Pace 61.63 (58) 64.93 (41)
Opportunities Margin -2.24 (47) +0.92 (27)
Possession Ratio 48.18% (49) 50.71% (27)
Functional Offensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 26.46 (60) 30.59 (33)
Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 89.11% (56) 92.92% (26)
Functional Defensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 29.10 (21) 29.74 (25)
Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 91.12% (19) 92.94% (45)
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 10.69 (6) 11.23 (12)
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 40.40% (31) 36.72% (13)
Lost Functional Defensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 11.61 (46) 11.66 (44)
Lost Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 40.40% (31) 39.19% (37)
Lost Functional Opportunities Margin +0.92 (21) +0.42 (28)
Lost Functional Opportunities Margin Ratio -0.49% (34) 2.47% (26)
ADJUSTED EFFICIENCIES
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 28.90 (42) 37.61 (8)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 27.57 (19) 34.32 (49)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin +1.33 (29) +3.30 (25)
SHOOTING
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.19 (12) 1.23 (2)
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 24.72% (53) 30.26% (21)
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.14 (43) 1.28 (61)
Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 24.01% (5) 26.47% (17)
ASSISTS
Offensive Assist Ratio 54.55% (41) 64.94% (6)
Offensive Assist Rate 16.00 (40) 24.25 (1)
Defensive Assist Ratio 51.88% (18) 56.86% (36)
Defensive Assist Rate 14.26 (9) 19.21 (49)
EXTRA-MAN RATES
Extra-Man Postures per 100 Offensive Opportunities 11.56 (22) 10.09 (37)
Extra-Man Posture Reliance 14.39% (13) 13.22% (19)
Extra-Man Posture Conversion Rate 36.54% (26) 48.94% (1)
Man-Down Postures per 100 Defensive Opportunities 10.74 (36) 9.71 (20)
Man-Down Posture Reliance 15.04% (51) 9.15% (13)
Man-Down Posture Conversion Rate 38.46% (46) 31.82% (23)
MISCELLANEOUS
Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Team) 5.67 (34) 5.22 (25)
Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Opponent) 6.00 (22) 5.44 (36)
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities (Team) 19.83 (44) 18.32 (55)
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities (Opponent) 20.89 (24) 20.60 (23)
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Team) 46.89 (42) 41.20 (12)
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Opponent) 45.25 (30) 43.49 (40)
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Team) 26.00 (54) 20.60 (13)
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Opponent) 25.41 (16) 25.17 (19)
Team "Run-of-Play Work Rate" (Non-Faceoff Groundballs per 100 Total Opportunities) 27.52 (30) 22.63 (59)
Opponent "Run-of-Play Work Rate" (Non-Faceoff Groundballs per 100 Total Opportunities) 28.37 (38) 24.48 (12)
"Run-of-Play Work Rate" Margin -0.86 (33) -1.85 (40)
GOALIE ACTIVITY
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 41.32 (6) 35.98 (22)
Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 35.33 (41) 36.70 (50)
Team Save Percentage 60.06% (5) 51.58% (38)
Opponent Save Percentage 54.64% (40) 49.57% (17)

THOUGHTS AND STUFF

Two pieces of incredibly important information about each team from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:

  • Here's the problem for the Tigers: Towson is terrible at clearing the ball, worse at winning faceoffs, the Tigers turn the ball over at a rate that ranks toward the bottom third of the country, and they play at a general possession deficit compared to their opponents -- will the Tigers struggle to keep pace with one of the most potent offenses in the country? Teams that can run with Drexel can give the Dragons fits, but Towson's combination of having difficulty (1) generating possession, and (2) valuing the ball when they actually generate an opportunity creates tough circumstances for the Tigers. If Towson is able to limit their turnovers -- primarily in creating and maximizing attack box opportunities -- the Tigers could find itself with an invitation to the THUNDERDOME! finals. If Towson plays loose with the ball, they could get in trouble quickly: Giving extra possessions to Drexel is grounds for beheading given how efficiently the Dragons can the bean; the issue may be that the Tigers may not be able to keep up with Drexel (even though the Dragons aren't exactly a crushing defensive force). There's only so much that Andrew Wascavage can do between the pipes to try and control a Drexel team that may be playing with a possession advantage in its favor; if Towson is unable to balance those possession opportunities and limit turnovers in the attack box, it may not matter whether Wascavage stands on his head because Drexel, over the course of time, may be able to pull away simply based on opportunity margin and rate of maximizing those opportunities (both in limiting their turnovers and efficiently finding the back of the net). How Towson clears and values the ball in the attack box -- Drexel isn't likely to get on the Tigers' hands, so the focus is really on unforced giveaways -- may dictate Towson's volition.
  • Drexel's defensive issues aside (which are decidedly prominent issues), few offenses in the country function like the Dragons' prism. Only one team squeezes off more shots per offensive opportunity than Drexel, creating tracer fire from all over the place for opposing goalies to deal with. (60.87 percent of the team's shots have come from the foursome of Ben McIntosh, Robert Church, Ryan Belka, and Frank Fusco (that unit is shooting 33.14 percent as a group).) No team generates more assists on a 100-possession basis than Drexel, moving the bean with aplomb, creating preferred shots, and doing so by not forcing the ball into situations that lead to turnovers. The Dragons rarely spit the bit in the attack box, maximizing their opportunities by both efficiently making rubber meet twine and not turning over the ball when in the green zone. Then, of course, there is Drexel's man-up ability: Even though the Dragons aren't playing with the extra attacker all that much (nor are they heavily relying on man-up situations to score goals), no team has a stronger conversion rate in extra-man postures. Drexel's offense is so good and multi-faceted that it is the reason that the Dragons are among the top 20 teams in the country, the team's offense doing so much that it erases much of the Dragons' defensive issues. Towson is a fairly strong defensive team, but Drexel poses problems for the Tigers that Towson hasn't seen since a lot of this season. (Notably, the last time these two teams met, Drexel earned a 14-11 victory.) What Drexel gets out of its offensive unit will ultimately determine whether the Dragons can, once again, hide its defensive problems and simply pummel Towson with an offensive explosion that can't be matched.
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