Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (46) Binghamton

A four game losing streak to end the season sullied what could have been a nice year for the Bearcats.

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: Binghamton Bearcats

2013 Record: 5-9 (1-4, America East)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -2.14 (50)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -1.99 (50)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +4.94%

2013 Efficiency Margin: -5.73 (46)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: +1.72

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • It's easy to point to the wins over Hobart (a 6-2 bedtime story) and Stony Brook (a 14-13 overtime win for the Bearcats, the first time that Binghamton has beaten the Seawolves since 2005) as the team's apex of achievement, but there's something else about Binghamton that is interesting: The Bearcats remained one of the least boneheaded teams in the nation. In fact, not only did Binghamton continue its tradition of being one of the least penalized programs in the country, the Bearcats improved -- fairly dramatically -- its performance in the few man-down postures that it actually had to play. On the year only one team took fewer penalties per 100 opportunities than Binghamton (Bryant) and no team played in fewer man-down postures per 100 defensive opportunities than the Bearcats (under seven percent of Binghamton's defensive opportunities featured the Bearcats playing with the personnel imbalance in their opponents' favor). Now, Binghamton has experienced this in the past -- since 2009 the Bearcats have been in the top three nationally in man-down postures per 100 defensive opportunities -- but the team was dogged with terrible conversion rates on their personnel imbalance kills (ranking among the bottom 10 in the country in each season). In 2013, Binghamton took the step that it had been missing, holding opponents to just a 13.79 conversion rate in man-down scenarios (that's the best mark of 2013). A big part of that has to do with the team's defense stepping forward in 2013 (partly due to Max Schefler stabilizing an unsettled netminding situation for Binghamton), and the results were kind of insane: Just under three percent of the goals that the Bearcats yielded last season were in extra-man situations (the national average was just under 12 percent). Binghamton did a tremendous job at not making their defensive work more difficult than it already was, and that deserves a certificate for Achievement in the Field of Not Ruining Things for Yourself.

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

  • As much as the Bearcats' defense arguably improved from 2012 to 2013, Binghamton's offense struggled. This isn't to say that the Bearcats' offense was an unmitigated mess (the team's adjusted offensive efficiency value (27.42) ranked 47th nationally), but it was a ceiling-limiter for Binghamton: The offense needed to be efficient due to the possession margin deficit that the team faced (-2.78 per 60 minutes of play); the results were less than spectacular. Despite playing at a painfully slow pace (59.73 possessions per 60 minutes of play, a mark that ranked 61st in the country), the Bearcats continually smashed their skulls against the desk in an attempt to generate some strong scoring chances: The team ranked first in shots per offensive opportunity at 1.34 but 61st in raw shooting percentage (21.91 percent); the team struggled to share the ball efficiently, generating just 15 assists per 100 offensive opportunities (46th nationally); the team relied heavily on man-up situations to score (just four teams had a higher ratio of man-up tallies to total tallies); the offense played loose with the ball, committing turnovers on almost 51 percent of their opportunities (55 percent of the team's turnovers were of the unforced variety, one of the worst marks in the nation); and opposing goalies ate the Bearcats up, generating almost 43 saves per 100 Binghamton offensive opportunities (dead last in the country) and holding a 59.23 save percentage (58th nationally). That's a poor level of execution from Binghamton and it may have cost the Bearcats a few wins -- three of the team's losses this season were by one goal (at Siena, against Vermont, and at UMBC); in those three games, the Bearcats yielded nine, eight, and 10 goals, respectively. A little more offense and Binghamton could have been an America East Tournament participant.

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

  • Scott Nelson has the Bearcats pointed in the right direction (and Binghamton needs to keep going), but the biggest area of improvement for the Bearcats going into 2014 is the improvement of the offense, specifically in shot selection and offensive approach. The team will return (presumably) all but two -- Tyler Perrelle and Shane Warner -- of its 2013 point producers in 2014, including its top four point-generators: Matt Springer, Michael Antinozzi, Brandon Planck, and Kelly Donigan. Those nine players accounted for 79.40 percent of the Binghamton's total shots in 2013; as a group they shot just 25.00 percent (the team's top four goal scorers shot just 26.07 percent as a subgroup). It's time for some extra shooting practice and chemistry-building in the offensive zone; if Binghamton can take care of that, they can become a little dangerous in the America East next season.
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