Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (44) Delaware

USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Hens struggled in 2013, beating just one team with a winning record.

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: Delaware Blue Hens

2013 Record: 5-10 (1-5, THUNDERDOME!)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -1.54 (41)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -0.08 (36)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: -6.67%

2013 Efficiency Margin: -5.58 (44)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: -3.52

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Delaware did a nice job dealing with the graduation of Dan Cooney; in 2012, Cooney won 59.4 percent of his draws and was a major factor in Delaware's 12th-ranked possession margin (2.52). In 2013, the Blue Hens drew at 54.12 percent and managed to hold a possession margin per 60 minutes value (0.40) that ranked 28th nationally. This work at the dot, in the vacuum created by Cooney's absence, accounted for about 39 percent of Delaware's offensive opportunities on the season, a higher percentage than Delaware experienced last season with Cooney creating magic on the whistle. What's especially impressive about the Blue Hens' faceoff work -- notably that of Tyler Barbarich, Delaware's faceoff catalyst (he drew at 56.9 percent this season) -- was the team's work at the dot in some of its biggest games against quality competition: The Blue Hens were underdogs against Bucknell, Loyola, Towson, and Drexel, but thanks (in part) to Delaware's effort on the whistle, the Blue Hens were able to keep things close. To wit:

    TOWSON AGAINST QUALITY COMPETITION: FACEOFFS AND POSSESSION MARGIN
    OPPONENT FINAL SCORE FACEOFF MARGIN POSSESSION MARGIN
    Bucknell 8-9 (L) +5 +3
    Loyola 8-9 (L) +7 +2
    Towson 6-7 (OT) (L) Even -1
    Drexel 10-11 (L) +5 +6
    Delaware needed those possessions generated through faceoff dominance (the exception being against the Tigers) to save their goat: With an inefficient offense that relied on volume and a leaky defense that required insulation (not to mention a questionable clearing game), the Blue Hens' work at the dot helped keep Delaware in games that could have ended with a lead pipe smashed against their face. That's stepping up to the plate when it matters most, and Delaware did that -- thanks to Barbarich's work -- against its strongest competition.

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

  • Delaware's offense never quite found its place without Grant Kaleikau. I thought Eric Smith's return would fill that gap and that the Blue Hens would be able to build around him, Danny Keane, and Nick Diachenko, creating hysteria for opposing defenses. That didn't seem to happen. The Blue Hens finished the season ranked 45th in adjusted offensive efficiency; 40th in raw shooting rate (26.47 percent); dead last in assist ratio (43.70 percent) and 59th in assist rate (12.37 per 100 offensive opportunities); 57th in extra-man conversion percentage (24.00 percent) while playing an average rate of man-up possessions per offensive opportunity; and were 49th in opponent save percentage (57.01 percent) and 52nd in opponent saves per 100 offensive opportunities (37.53). On an isolated basis this is concerning; looking at the last few seasons, though, Delaware is trending in the wrong direction on the offensive end of the field -- the Blue Hens ranked 38th in adjusted offensive efficiency in 2012; were 40th in the same metric in 2011; and, in 2010, were screaming away, generating tallies at a rate that ranked 14th in the nation. This is concerning; there's only so much a defense can do when an offense is moving toward difficult territory. And it's not like Delaware played a murder's row of defenses this season: The team's schedule ranks 39th in opposing defenses faced, squaring off against just five teams -- Penn State (6th), Loyola (11th), Hofstra (13th), Bucknell (15th), and Towson (18th) -- that held adjusted defensive efficiency values that ranked in the national top 20. This is troubling.

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

  • Delaware regressed from 2012 to 2013; the Blue Hens also regressed from 2011 to 2012 (a -1.50 drop in adjusted efficiency margin) and from 2010 to 2011 (a -3.31 drop in adjusted efficiency margin). This is a team that ranked as high as 21st in the adjusted efficiency margin rankings as recently as 2010 and has plummeted to the 44th position. Delaware needs to rediscover itself -- playing with purpose in one of the toughest leagues in the nation -- through a higher degree of execution on both ends of the field. It's a fix that requires an elevation of play in the overall (in all kinds of different ways), and that's not the easiest of things to do.
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