Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (29) Harvard

Elsa

The Crimson have put together back-to-back 6-8 campaigns.

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: Harvard Crimson

2013 Record: 6-8 (2-4, Ivy)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.95 (15)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -0.65 (41)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +/-0.00%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 0.52 (29)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: +/-0.00

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • While Harvard stayed fairly static to its overall performance in 2012 (that statement is coming from 10,000 feet), the Crimson felt like they turned the corner a bit after running at Duke in a Saturday night, televised game in Cambridge (an 11-12 loss, but one in which Harvard seemingly had in control until about midway through the final period when the Devils went on a 4-0 run late in regulation to seal the Crimson's fate). Save the shellacking that Princeton put on Harvard in mid-April, the team's statistical output over its final five games -- which included contests against the aforementioned Tigers, Cornell (a game that required the Red to rally late), Quinnipiac, Pennsylvania, and Yale -- supports that sentiment:

    HARVARD'S LAST FIVE GAMES AGAINST ITS FULL SLATE
    METRIC SEASON VALUE LAST FIVE GAMES VALUE
    Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 29.99 (29) 35.16
    Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 29.47 (22) 29.32
    Adjusted Efficiency Margin 0.52 (29) 5.84
    (The underlying metrics that impact those overall efficiency values are much improved as well. There are notable differences in raw offensive shooting rate (35.29 percent to 29.27 percent), clearing rate (82.35 percent to 79.45 percent), and offensive assist rate (23.49 to 18.46).) Harvard was playing its best ball at the end of the year, and that's notable in that the Crimson were doing it against arguably the best competition it played all season. Now, Harvard went just 2-3 in that stretch (the wins coming against the Bobcats and the Quakers (in overtime)), but Harvard was playing at a level that exceeded their overall season-long performance. For a team loaded with presumably elite talent (at least according to recruiting rankings) and that had to deal with injuries (notably Daniel Eipp) and a troublesome academic situation, that's -- at a minimum -- a nice takeaway for a season that could have gotten away from Chris Wojcik.

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

  • Look at this:

    TOO MUCH ICKY
    METRIC VALUE RANK
    Clearing Percentage 79.45% 60
    Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 52.75 56
    Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 25.71 51
    Forced/Caused Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 27.03 54
    Turnover Margin -9.49 58
    There are two things that make my head explode when watching teams with talent residing in power conferences that are full of potential: A failure to effectively clear and a casual relationship with the ball. If Harvard had cleared at the national average this season, the Crimson could have put another five goals on the board and kept their opponents from scoring another five tallies. That's a ten-goal swing in the overall, and that's not an insignificant amount. Harvard needed to do a better job maximizing those offensive opportunities and turning them into functional offensive possessions; the relative strength of the team's offense needed it. As for the turnover rate at which the Crimson operated -- Harvard needed some volume to efficiently can the bean; pitching away possessions that don't challenge opposing keepers and the defense in totem is a dastardly scenario. Considering that Harvard played a schedule ranked 11th in opposing defenses faced, you can see how the Crimson's turnover rate exacerbated already difficult circumstances. Teams just can't do these types of things and continually stalk success. The degree of difficulty just becomes too hard to overcome.

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

  • Harvard really needs to take that next step that many have been anticipating from the Crimson. The Ivy League looks like it’s going to be a war again in 2014, but Harvard is going to need to overcome that to establish itself as a top-four team in the conference. It's not that Harvard is all that far away; the Crimson just needs to start focusing on the little things that erode success potential. Harvard was in a similar position to where it was in 2012, but played differently in 2013. The focus, then, is likely on developing consistency and maturity, something that should be achievable for Harvard going into the coming spring.
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