Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (21) Brown

Brown is Exhibit A as to why the Ivy League was a thunderous machine 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: Brown Bears

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

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.33 (27)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.75 (14)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +10.47%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 3.14 (21)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: +2.52

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • If you missed this last season, don't fret (I honestly didn't start to recognize it until I started writing this piece), but Brown was one of the better defensive teams in the nation last year, and its efforts played a big part in Bruno's overall success on the season. This may not make sense when you look at Brown's per game defensive statistics -- the Bears ranked just 20th in goals allowed per game -- but on a possession-basis, Brown ranks among the nation's best in keeping the ball out of the back of the net. Here's the juice:

    BRUNO'S DEFENSIVE PROFILE: 2013
    METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
    Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 24.86 7
    Shots per Defensive Opportunity 0.90 2
    Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 27.18% 22
    Assist Rate per 100 Defensive Opportunities 15.93 24
    Ride Percentage 18.12% 5
    Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities 48.17 15
    "Run-of-Play" Work Rate Margin +3.14 14
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Offenses Faced 30.37 32
    That's trucking along on the defensive end, getting good value against a slate of decent offensive teams (that schedule, notably, featured exceptional offenses in North Carolina, Princeton, and Cornell). More importantly, though, Brown's defense was able to perform fairly well in very difficult circumstances: The Bears played at almost a three possession deficit to its opponents (a 2.88 deficit, the value ranking 51st nationally) and only one team played more defensive opportunities than Brown on a 60 minute basis (38.38 per 60 minutes of play). That's an incredible amount of exposure and pressure to succeed, and Brown's defense rose to the challenge, supporting an offense that struggled to efficiently can the bean (more on that below). This wasn't an exceptional defense that sat among the nation's hyper-elite, but considering what Bruno was able to accomplish while defending the ball (and the circumstances surrounding its ability to defend the ball), the Bears were proficient at making the lives of opposing offenses difficult.

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

  • Brown's offense couldn't seem to complement its defense. This is often rare for teams that are among the top 20 in the nation -- there is usually a semblance of balance between offensive and defensive capability, the hallmark of teams that are difficult to defeat -- but the Bears fall within the weird vortex of teams that were able to find success despite dragging an anchor. The incongruity between the two aspects of play is stark, and comparing the above-table to the one that immediate follows illustrates this fact:

    BRUNO'S DEFENSIVE PROFILE: 2013
    METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
    Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 28.00 44
    Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.06 39
    Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 26.17% 43
    Assist Rate per 100 Offensive Opportunities 15.84 42
    Clearing Percentage 84.62% 43
    Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 45.94 35
    Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 36.44 48
    Opponent Save Percentage 56.79% 47
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Defenses Faced 30.04 23
    When Brown requires volume to score and doesn't have possession margin in its favor (primarily due to a somewhat weak clearing game but heavily influenced by an inability to win at the dot (the Bears drew at only 38.89 percent last season, 58th nationally)), factors are in place that influence struggling. Efficiency matters most when inefficiency can't afford to exist (this is where possession-generation is important); for Bruno, the team's inability to make the scoreboard blink at a higher rate eroded the team's defensive performances. This is not a good relationship to see, especially in the Ivy League where excellence occurs each and every week.

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

  • It's not that Brown has latent problems that preclude its ability to move forward in the Ivy League. Rather, the Bears simply need to seize opportunities -- in talent development, in execution (especially offensively, something that has eluded Bruno the last three seasons), in competitive drive (stepping forward against elite competition) -- in league play and assert a higher position in the conference's hierarchy. Brown is just 11-13 in Ivy League play the last four years, finishing with a winning record only once in that period -- a 4-2 effort in 2010. Yale has taken its step forward to cement itself as one of the league's most mature programs; there's no reason that Brown can't do the same if it touches up the little things.
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