Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (13) Johns Hopkins

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

A May spent skipping stones on the Inner Harbor defined the Jays' season.

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: Johns Hopkins Blue Jays

2013 Record: 9-5 (Hopkinspendent)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 2.05 (13)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 2.66 (6)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: -10.71%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 6.09 (13)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: -1.24

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • You can argue about how Johns Hopkins used them, but there's no question that the Jays were a possession-generating machine in 2013. In fact, there were just two games this season in which Hopkins failed to win the possession battle -- against Virginia and Loyola, games in which the Jays were even in possession margin with the Cavaliers and 'Hounds. The underlying detail here is fairly explosive:

    JOHNS HOPKINS AND THE GIMMIE GIMMIES
    METRIC VALUE NAT'L RANK
    Opportunities per 60 Minutes Margin +7.50 2
    Possession Ratio 55.45% 2
    Faceoff Percentage 64.97% 2
    Clearing Percentage 90.49% 6
    Ride Percentage 15.75% 19
    So, where did Hopkins get the most value in its possession-generating activity? Of the approximately 534 offensive opportunities that the Jays generated in 2013, about 38 percent came from faceoff wins, around 53 percent came from clearing opportunities (and Hopkins' clearing ability maximized those chances), and nine percent of the team's offensive opportunities were attributable to Hopkins' ride. There is strong value here (mostly due to the fact that the Jays were a fairly efficient offensive team but not an exemplary one (Hopkins finished the year ranked 24th in adjusted offensive efficiency)), and that helped keep the Jays in the national consciousness despite having -- according to Hopkins' standards -- an uneven campaign. It wasn't for a lack of opportunity that the Jays failed to meet their goals in 2013; in fact, the team's competence in generating possessions was arguably its most notable talent (alongside a capable defense). Rather, Hopkins' fate turned on their ability to function in those possessions -- in each game -- and magnify the host of extra opportunities that they were able to create.

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

  • It's not just that Hopkins failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since people junked olive green refrigerators; it's that the Jays couldn't seem to hook any big fish throughout the season. That fact -- an inability to drop a handful of the national elite -- is what was so frown-inducing for Hopkins fans in 2013: It's decidedly un-Jays-like. That's really the difference between Johns Hopkins last year and its prior seasons -- the Jays were still a strong team, but they failed to find success where they so often have in their history. It's a combination of both cosmic recalibration as much as it is Hopkins having trouble wrestling wins away from the best the country had to offer. Regardless of how it's categorized, though, the picture isn't pretty:

    JOHNS HOPKINS AGAINST TOP-10 TEAMS IN ADJUSTED EFFICIENCY MARGIN
    OPPONENT ADJ. EFFICIENCY MARGIN RANK FINAL SCORE POSSESSION MARGIN JHU RAW OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY JHU RAW DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
    Princeton 8 8-11 (L) +3 23.53 35.48
    Syracuse 3 8-13 (L) +3 21.05 34.21
    North Carolina 2 10-11 (OT) +4 33.33 42.31
    Maryland 6 7-4 (W) +4 21.88 14.29
    Loyola 4 4-8 (L) +10 11.43 32.00
    In just two games -- against Maryland and North Carolina -- did Hopkins play above their head and either win or make it a game (a year-end log5 analysis shows the Jays as having only a 37.19 percent chance of victory against the Tar Heels and 44.55 percent chance of victory against the Terrapins (even though Maryland crashed through the latter portion of their season)). In the three other games -- games in which Hopkins wasn't favored but also didn't do themselves any favors -- the Jays failed to rise to the occasion. The most notable of these games was Hopkins' date with Loyola: With the Jays' postseason fate hanging in the balance, Johns Hopkins put together a putrid offensive effort and had its defense put together a less-than-stellar performance. Hopkins has a history of winning these kinds of games and just couldn't seem to get it together in 2013. That's why the Jays spent May skipping stones on the Inner Harbor.

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

  • You don't "fix" Hopkins -- there's always going to be talent at Homewood, the coaching staff is among the best in the nation (Bobby Benson detractors aside), and the universe is predisposed to the Jays winning buckets of games. Frankly, Johns Hopkins wasn't all that far away from its historic station in college lacrosse's hierarchy in 2013. If I'm the Jays, maybe I stop overthinking existence and go on a spiritual journey to rediscover my identity. Simplicity is a good thing and it can afford valuable results. Be what you are, Hopkins, and great things will come.
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