NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Semifinals: (4) Denver v. (1) Syracuse

Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

Everything you need to know about the Pioneers and Orange ahead of their semifinals bout at Lincoln Financial Field.

It's the 2013 NCAA Tournament! Take out the nice napkins and make sure that your kid doesn't have crap all over his face. College Crosse has this all under control, so feel safe, friends. If you missed anything -- and you really shouldn't because you're only hurting yourself if you do -- click this fancy highlighted text to get all caught up.

From 10,000 Feet

Date and Time: Saturday, 5:00 P.M.
Location: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Broadcast: ESPN2
Game "Fun Factor" Rank: 2nd (4.8651)
log5 Victory Probabilities: Syracuse -- 56.94%; Denver -- 43.06%
First Round: (1) Syracuse d. Bryant (12-7); (4) Denver d. Albany (19-14)
Quarterfinals: (1) Syracuse d. Yale (7-6); (4) Denver d. (5) North Carolina (12-11)

From Right In Front Of Your Face

(1) Syracuse Orange: Big East, Automatic Qualifier

SYRACUSE ORANGE
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 15-3 Clearing Rate 91.67% (4)
Adj. Off. Eff. 35.52 (9) Riding Rate 12.16% (46)
Adj. Def. Eff. 25.15 (9) Faceoff % 42.82% (54)
Adj. Eff. Margin 10.37 (3) Pace 66.01 (35)
Pyth. Win Exp. 74.47% (3) Off. Opps./60 Min. 32.76 (37)
Opps. Margin -0.50 (34) Def. Opps./60 Min. 33.25 (35)
Opps. Ratio 49.62% (33)
DEFENSIVE STATS OFFENSIVE STATS
Save % 51.26% (40) Sht. % 31.63% (11)
Saves/100 Def. Opps. 27.03 (60) Opnt. Save % 48.79% (14)
Shts/Def. Opp. 0.97 (8) Saves/100 Off. Opps. 33.84 (33)
Opnt. Sht. % 26.59% (17) Shts/Off. Opp. 1.12 (27)
Def. Assist Rate 12.77 (4) Off. Assist Rate 22.39 (6)
EMD/100 Def. Opps. 10.12 (25) EMO/100 Off. Opps. 9.26 (47)
EMD Conversion % 40.98% (53) EMO Conversion % 38.18% (18)
EMD Reliance 16.13% (54) EMO Reliance 9.95% (49)
Opnt. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 45.27 (27) T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 36.70 (5)
Opnt. Unforc. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 24.38 (21) Unforc. T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 20.37 (14)
Caused T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 20.90 (40) Opnt. Caused T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 16.33 (5)

Key

One piece of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:

  • It's not like Syracuse hasn't seen offenses with HULKSMASH! qualities this season: The Orange's schedule ranks 12th in opposing offenses faced, notably running with Albany, St. John's, Princeton, and Cornell this year (three of those four games were wins for Syracuse). However, the Orange haven't seen anything quite at the level of Denver's offense this season -- the Pioneers boast the most efficient offensive unit in the country, scoring goals on about 42 percent of their offensive opportunities, sharing the ball at a rate that ranks among the nation's elite, and embarrassing opposing goalies as if the act were a special kind of sporting endeavor. Denver is a crushing offensive force, a Panzer tank in shorts and shoulder pads, and how Syracuse functions on the defensive end dealing with the Pioneers' offensive approach may dictate the outcome of the game for two reasons: (1) In order to neutralize Denver's expected possession margin advantage due to Chase Carraro's exceptional work at the dot, the Orange are going to need to generate stops at the defensive end -- either through saves from Dominic Lamolinara or through forced and unforced turnovers against/from the Pioneers -- to provide Syracuse's offense with complementary offensive possessions; and (2) Syracuse's defense is going to need to push through physical and mental fatigue due to the patience of Denver's offense and the volume of opportunities that unit will have to detonate the Orange's defensive efforts, performing at a high level for 60 minutes to ensure that Syracuse's offense doesn't need to try and score 40 goals on 30 offensive opportunities. Specifically, the Orange are going to need a strong showing from Lamolinara in the crease -- Denver has abused opposing keepers throughout the 2013 season -- and the field defense, in totem, to keep their head on a swivel and fervently limit ball-watching. If Denver is able to dominate possession, whip the ball around the attack box to find teammates in preferred shooting locations, and Lamolinara isn't on point, it could be curtains for Syracuse.

Denver Pioneers: ECAC, At-Large

DENVER PIONEERS
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 14-4 Clearing Rate 93.07% (2)
Adj. Off. Eff. 41.62 (1) Riding Rate 5.59% (63)
Adj. Def. Eff. 32.24 (34) Faceoff % 52.04% (23)
Adj. Eff. Margin 9.38 (5) Pace 60.01 (59)
Pyth. Win Exp. 68.81% (10) Off. Opps./60 Min. 30.86 (51)
Opps. Margin 1.71 (20) Def. Opps./60 Min. 29.15 (2)
Opps. Ratio 51.42% (18)
DEFENSIVE STATS OFFENSIVE STATS
Save % 56.17% (11) Sht. % 34.13% (3)
Saves/100 Def. Opps. 42.08 (6) Opnt. Save % 44.66% (5)
Shts/Def. Opp. 1.25 (57) Saves/100 Off. Opps. 32.80 (29)
Opnt. Sht. % 26.17% (14) Shts/Off. Opp. 1.19 (8)
Def. Assist Rate 18.68 (42) Off. Assist Rate 22.82 (3)
EMD/100 Def. Opps. 9.43 (15) EMO/100 Off. Opps. 12.12 (17)
EMD Conversion % 30.00% (17) EMO Conversion % 35.29% (28)
EMD Reliance 8.62% (10) EMO Reliance 10.53% (45)
Opnt. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 35.47 (63) T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 40.46 (11)
Opnt. Unforc. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 16.79 (63) Unforc. T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 20.68 (17)
Caused T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 18.68 (47) Opnt. Caused T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 19.79 (17)

Key

One piece of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:

  • An interesting focus point for Denver is how they operate in attack box postures. Specifically, how well will the Pioneers (1) limit turnovers, and (2) maintain intelligent shot selection. Denver has done a good job this season valuing the ball (both in the overall and in attack box situations), but the combination of the Pioneers' first half effort against North Carolina last week -- a turnover extravaganza for Denver -- and the rate at which Syracuse's opponents commit giveaways (not an exceedingly high value, but notable) creates a little bit of concern about what Denver may do when the curtain lifts for showtime. As for shot selection, it's not necessarily that the Pioneers have a reputation for chucking the ball into the seats because the entire offense is afflicted with walleye vision (in fact, that's just about the opposite of reality); rather, Denver is facing a goaltender that, for the Pioneers' purposes, is beatable -- if Denver can refrain from putting savable shots on net and bolstering Lamolinara's confidence, they do themselves a huge favor that will require Denver to simultaneously send itself "Congratulations!" and "Thank You!" cards. There are four important residues if Denver is able to limit its turnovers and make Lamolinara work: (1) The Pioneers should play with possession margin in their favor, and efficient efforts in the offensive end -- buoyed by make-it-take-it action -- could allow Denver to build a cushion on the scoreboard; (2) Limiting turnovers and forcing Lamolinara to make tough saves controls Syracuse's ability to get in transition and attack in preferable circumstances (like North Carolina did over the first 30 minutes of Denver's quarterfinals match); (3) Twofold value in these facets of play allow the Pioneers to control the pace of the game; (4) It allows Denver to possession-starve Syracuse's offense and grind down the Orange's defense; and (5) It limits the exposure of Denver's defense -- the team's weaker field unit -- to a highly profitable Syracuse offense. Intelligence and value: These are the keys to the Pioneers' success against the Orange.
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