Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (19) St. John's

Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

Bad news for everyone that isn't St. John's: Kieran McArdle is coming back in 2014 for more skull-crushing.

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: St. John's Red Storm

2013 Record: 9-4 (3-3, Big East)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -0.39 (32)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.39 (30)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +15.90%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 4.47 (19)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: +6.31

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Syracuse earned a lot of ink this past season for its offense -- deservedly so, a prism of pain for opposing offenses that operated efficiently despite the heavy possession deficit that the unit faced -- but St. John's was, despite the lack of overall fanfare given to the team's offense (outside of what Kieran McArdle was accomplishing on an individual level), the Orange's peer on the offensive end. The combustion engine for the Johnnies was McArdle, though the Red Storm weren't without leveraged contributions -- the team featured six players outside of McArdle (Kevin Cernuto (48), Colin Keegan (31), Connor Mullen (20), Alex Lagodich (19), Ryan Fitzgerald (18), and Keith Switzer (15)) that generated at least 15 points on the season -- and the results were impressive:

    THE ST. JOHN'S LASER LIGHT SHOW
    METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
    Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 39.50 3
    Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.19 7
    Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 33.40% 4
    Assist Rate per 100 Offensive Opportunities 23.65 1
    Opponent Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 30.05 9
    Opponent Save Percentage 42.96% 2
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Defenses Faced 30.65 32
    This is a scary-powerful profile: A team that shared the ball like crazy, weren't afraid to challenge opposing keepers (and dominate them in the process), and lit up the scoreboard at a rate that ranked among the nation's elite, all with McArdle -- a first team All-American in any other season -- driving the team’s fortunes. This was unquestionably an elite offense emanating from Jamaica, a unit capable of explosions and fire and all the spoils of rampant damage infliction. Here's the scariest part of this offense, though: (1) Of the team's top seven scorers in 2013, all but Lagodich return in 2014; and (2) The six returnees from the noted subset of point-generators will all be seniors next spring. Basically, the Red Storm have the potential to violently capture Toronto and claim it as their own next year if given the opportunity.

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

  • One game doesn't define a season, but looking at the Johnnies in 2013, it's hard to escape the notion that the loss the Red Storm took to Georgetown in Bethpage in early-April didn't heavily shape the volition of the season that St. John's put together. The Johnnies were in great shape heading into their vitally important league date with the Hoyas: Sitting at 8-2 with wins over Yale and Notre Dame (and a loss to Syracuse in which St. John's looked like one of the nation's stronger teams), the Red Storm were poised not only to raise hell in the Big East but to also position themselves for a potential NCAA Tournament at-large invitation. Then the Georgetown game happened, an absolute war between the two teams -- the Hoyas has finally started to find their groove at this time in the season -- that saw the scoreboard feature numerous ties and tenuous leads. The game would eventually fall in Georgetown's favor on an overtime winner from Dan McKinney, and that's the toughest part for St. John's to accept: (1) The loss ultimately sealed the Johnnies fate as a Big East Tournament outsider, the result of the Georgetown game being the tiebreaking difference between the Hoyas or Red Storm moving on to the league's postseason at Villanova; and (2) The Red Storm were, at least based on performance metrics with legacy predictory significance, the stronger team between the two programs:

    OPPORTUNITY LOST
    OPPONENT ST. JOHN'S CHANCE OF VICTORY FINAL OUTCOME
    Georgetown 73.20% 13-14 OT (L)
    That's the kind of outcome that creates serial killers decades in the future because of the inner torment it creates.

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

  • As good as the St. John's offense is going to be next year, the Johnnies have a lot of work to do on the defensive end. A defensive unit that ranked 49th in adjusted defensive efficiency in 2013 (a somewhat surprising fact given the preseason expectations that surrounded the Red Storm at that end of the field) loses major assets in Jeff Lowman, Dillon Ayers, and Brandon Ayers. If that unit is able to coalesce and perform at a level that complements its offense sufficiently, the Red Storm could scorch earth; if they meander through the upcoming campaign and can't find their volition, the Johnnies may struggle to meet their potential.
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