Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (61) Canisius

The surprise of the MAAC in 2012 took some shots to the chops in 2013.

You spent the better part of four months meticulously dissecting the 2013 college lacrosse season. You shouldn't stop now because cold turkey is a bad way to go through life, man. College Crosse is providing decompression snapshots of all 63 teams and their 2013 campaigns, mostly because everything needs a proper burial.

I. VITAL SIGNS

Team: Canisius Golden Griffins

2013 Record: 3-10 (2-4, MAAC)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -0.06 (28)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -0.13 (37)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: -19.78%

2013 Efficiency Margin: -16.10 (61)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: -7.73

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • I'm not sure that Tim Edwards, the all-everything midfielder for Canisius, gets enough credit for the work he does with the Griffins. This isn't a guy that puts up staggering numbers -- he finished his sophomore campaign with 39 points, but Canisius played at the fifth-slowest tempo in the nation last season -- but his value to the Griffins is significant -- running with a heavily-influenced underclass offense, Edwards served as the pivot point for Canisius' offensive hopes. The first-team all-MAAC selection was strong in 2013 even if the unit he was tasked with leading had notable issues (the Griffins finished the season ranked just 58th in adjusted offensive efficiency). When you scale his statistical point output to a relatively tempo-free environment and adjust for competition played (with some noise attributable to the actual number of runs that Edwards took), Edwards finished the season somewhere around the top 40 players in the nation in production. That's pretty good for a player that was learning to shoulder the weight of a team's offense in just his sophomore season, bringing with him players still developing at the Division I level. Edwards shot fairly well in 2013 despite handling a heavy volume of attempts (30.3 percent on 16.38 percent of Canisius' total shots), which helps illustrate the value that Edwards brought to an otherwise anemic offense. The volume of his turnovers are a concern (30), but considering the role that Edwards played for the Griffins last year and the attention he drew from every opponent faced, it's not surprising to see his somewhat high rate of pitching the bean away. Edwards will return to Canisius in 2014 as one of the strongest players in the MAAC, and if he is able to improve on his production in 2013, the Griffins could be in much better shape in 2014 than they were a season ago.

III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT

  • This is purely stylistic, and I understand that not everyone has the same tastes in lacrosse style as I do (yet everyone should, dammit), but Canisius wasn't the prettiest team in the nation to watch last year. The Griffins ranked just 60th in the "Fun Factor" in 2013, a scale that considers a team's pace, overall competitiveness, and offensive ability. That mark puts Canisius just ahead of Michigan and right behind High Point, a neighborhood with depressed property values at the moment. The underlying aspects to Canisius' "Fun Factor" score are frightening: Only four teams played at a slower tempo than the Griffins in 2013; only two teams -- Wagner and VMI -- were expected to win fewer games than Canisius based on Pythagorean win expectation; only a dozen teams had a harder time picking corners than the Griffins (Canisius' raw offensive shooting rate (25.06 percent) ranked 51st nationally); and the team's defense was arguably one of the three leakiest units in the country (the Griffins ranked 62nd in adjusted defensive efficiency) despite the fact that Canisius actually played with possession margin in their favor. When you throw in "thrill" considerations -- playing in close games, etc. -- Canisius doesn't score much better: Six of the teams 10 losses were by five goals or more; just six of the team's 13 games were decided by three goals or fewer (three of those games were wins, however); and in the team's most important games -- against value opponents or in big moments -- Canisius kind of came up flat, holding an aggregate margin deficit of -31 against ranked opponents (Denver, Cornell, Albany, and Syracuse) and taking a beating (13-7) against Detroit in the MAAC Tournament.

IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .

  • The young cats need to develop. Of Canisius' double-digit point generators in 2013, five will return in 2014, none of which will hold higher than a junior class ranking. Defensively, Adam Donner, Dylan Knopfke, Rich Stapleton, and Brendan Barren (among others) return to try and solidify a defense that struggled mightily in 2013. Growth potential and actual development are Canisius' biggest positives entering 2014, and it'll determine where the Griffins go next season. Concerns linger about crease play, but the fix there is tied to the development and maturation of the roster as a whole.
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