NEC Lacrosse Tournament Preview: Sacred Heart-Bryant

Get your face ready for Pioneers-Bulldogs.

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 NEC Tournament.

The NEC is a magic elixir: Nonconference maladies are washed away with the cure-all that the conference provides. Bryant, which meandered through an out-of-conference slate that featured seven consecutive losses to open the season (include an overtime loss to a bad Vermont team), suddenly found its groove in the NEC. Sacred Heart, otherwise riding the pain train of endless torture before league play began, saved its season with victories over Mount St. Mary’s, Wagner, and Robert Morris (the win against the Mountaineers snapped the Pioneers’ eight-game losing streak to start their campaign). Folks knock the Northeast Conference given its relative competitiveness to other leagues, but the NEC provides opportunity, and in this country where opportunity is the hallmark of the American dream, the league holds value.

THE COMPUTING MACHINE SAYS

Log5: Sacred Heart (42.87%); Bryant (57.13%)

DOSSIERS

NEC Tournament: Sacred Heart (4) vs. Bryant (1)
SACRED HEART PIONEERS BRYANT BULLDOGS
OPPORTUNITIES/TEMPO
Pace 64.50 (43) 68.46 (21)
Opportunities Margin +3.48 (9) +7.04 (2)
Possession Ratio 52.70% (10) 55.14% (2)
Functional Offensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 31.65 (26) 35.01 (5)
Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 93.10% (22) 92.74% (30)
Functional Defensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 28.16 (11) 26.97 (3)
Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 92.31% (35) 87.83% (2)
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 16.28 (62) 14.64 (58)
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 51.44% (59) 41.81% (42)
Lost Functional Defensive Opportunities per 60 Minutes 12.95 (24) 9.78 (62)
Lost Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 45.97% (12) 36.26% (53)
Lost Functional Opportunities Margin -3.33 (61) -4.86 (63)
Lost Functional Opportunities Margin Ratio -5.47% (47) -5.56% (49)
ADJUSTED EFFICIENCIES
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 29.50 (37) 25.32 (55)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 37.43 (58) 29.28 (24)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin -7.93 (53) -3.96 (41)
SHOOTING
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.00 (53) 1.08 (35)
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 30.80% (17) 24.62% (54)
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.24 (56) 1.20 (53)
Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 29.34% (45) 24.83% (10)
ASSISTS
Offensive Assist Ratio 63.04% (10) 59.63% (18)
Offensive Assist Rate 19.38 (19) 15.84 (43)
Defensive Assist Ratio 51.02% (14) 51.70% (17)
Defensive Assist Rate 18.61 (43) 15.42 (21)
EXTRA-MAN RATES
Extra-Man Postures per 100 Offensive Opportunities 14.48 (5) 9.57 (40)
Extra-Man Posture Reliance 11.59% (33) 11.18% (36)
Extra-Man Posture Conversion Rate 24.62% (54) 31.03% (44)
Man-Down Postures per 100 Defensive Opportunities 17.37 (63) 6.69 (2)
Man-Down Posture Reliance 17.69% (59) 4.08% (2)
Man-Down Posture Conversion Rate 37.14% (42) 18.18% (3)
MISCELLANEOUS
Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Team) 8.92 (63) 3.09 (1)
Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Opponent) 8.57 (2) 5.91 (24)
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities (Team) 25.31 (17) 22.72 (22)
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities (Opponent) 26.95 (55) 25.08 (47)
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Team) 54.79 (59) 46.04 (39)
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Opponent) 50.12 (12) 44.02 (35)
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Team) 27.84 (59) 20.96 (15)
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities (Opponent) 24.81 (20) 21.30 (46)
Team "Run-of-Play Work Rate" (Non-Faceoff Groundballs per 100 Total Opportunities) 26.41 (41) 31.76 (10)
Opponent "Run-of-Play Work Rate" (Non-Faceoff Groundballs per 100 Total Opportunities) 31.81 (52) 28.66 (40)
"Run-of-Play Work Rate" Margin -5.40 (58) +3.09 (19)
GOALIE ACTIVITY
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 37.72 (17) 37.73 (16)
Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 31.40 (13) 32.84 (27)
Team Save Percentage 50.84% (44) 55.86% (14)
Opponent Save Percentage 50.54% (20) 55.28% (43)

THOUGHTS AND STUFF

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

  • Look: Sacred Heart is a bad team. This doesn't mean that the Pioneers don't give the proper effort to succeed or that Sacred Heart is unworthy of Division I status; rather, it just means that the Pioneers are exceptional at struggling. Sacred Heart's problems are numerous and indicative of teams that have trouble generating wins and staying competitive against teams that play above their head: (1) The Pioneers turn the ball over far too much, killing opportunities to efficiently score the ball (this is especially an issue for Sacred Heart as they're doing a decent job of creating offensive opportunities in their clear but are throwing the bean away (or having it dispossessed from them via a caused turnover) when in the attack box); (2) When losing possession of the ball or when opponents are losing control of the bean, the Pioneers are getting outworked in the run of play on loose balls, a killer for a team that needs to limit extra or extended defensive possessions because they're not particularly efficient at ending them in totem (and also because Sacred Heart's offense needs volume opportunities to make the scoreboard blink); and (3) Even with opportunity -- only eight teams have a possession margin in their favor greater than the Pioneers' mark (due in large part to Stephen Kontos' work at the dot) -- the Pioneers can't generate enough wins: The offense isn't efficient enough to build airtight leads and the defense is too leaky to take advantage of the underexposure that it receives. Sacred Heart has a chance to win today -- and that's the awesome glory of the NEC -- but it is going to take an especially strong effort from the Pioneers to get the job done.
  • In his interview with Quint Kessenich this week, Bryant head coach Mike Pressler noted that Kevin Massa -- the Bulldogs' faceoff savant -- would ultimately dictate how successful Bryant would be the rest of this season. Coaches often throw some first-rate nonsense into the atmosphere when they talk about their team as a whole or about specific players (for various reasons), but Pressler is right on the money when it comes to Massa -- the sophomore is Bryant's driver this season, more important than Mason Poli accomplishing incredible human achievements in transition or what any of Bryant's offensive weapons -- Shane Morrell, Alex Zomerfeld, Colin Dunster, etc. -- are capable of doing with the pill. The reason for this is twofold: (1) Bryant is one of the most inefficient offensive teams in the country, requiring heavy possession volume to make the scoreboard blink as this team isn't particularly strong at picking corners, limiting turnovers in the attack box, or clearing the ball; and (2) Massa is the initiator for much of the Bulldogs offensive opportunities and functional offensive postures that breach the attack box -- on the year, the Bulldogs have seen around 42 percent of their offensive opportunities come via a Massa faceoff win and almost 46 percent of their functional offensive possessions come via a Massa win on the whistle. While Bryant's ride has generated 60 opportunities this season -- about 10 percent of the team's offensive opportunities (not a small ratio by any means) -- it has been Massa's work at giving Bryant the ball that has helped Bryant actually score the bean. He is the Bulldogs' biggest weapon (and most important piece to the offense despite the fact that he has only nine points and 11 shots this season), and without him Bryant would be in a mess of trouble.
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