Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (12) Bucknell

USA TODAY Sports

The raddest team this side of radicalism.

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: Bucknell Bison

2013 Record: 12-4 (5-1, Patriot)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.68 (17)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.17 (19)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +18.75%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 6.16 (12)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: -0.05

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • I love the 10-man ride. If it was up to me, this site would be renamed 10-Man Ride and billions of people would read it every second of the day. With all the money I'd make from this newly-named site, I'd buy a small island in the Caribbean, rename it 10-Man Ride Island and all inhabitants -- me, mostly -- would be required to worship at 10-Man Ride Chapel. It'd be pretty perfect, and all the detractors that would be laughing at me would be -- eventually -- swarmed under by my sovereign nation policy of causing havoc and enjoying the economic benefit, growing my already sizeable fortune. This is, in function, the glory of Bucknell lacrosse under Frank Fedorjaka: Fury, but the kind of fury that gets results. The 10-man ride isn't a gimmick for the Bison; rather, it's a means to making preferable ends:

    10-MAN MAN-WORK
    METRIC VALUE NAT'L RANK
    Opportunities per 60 Minutes Margin +2.00 15
    Possession Ratio 51.52% 16
    Faceoff Percentage 47.04% 43
    Clearing Percentage 87.07% 29
    Ride Percentage 21.20% 1
    Estimated Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 88.28% 3
    Bucknell's ride mattered in 2013 (successful rides accounted for about 11 percent of Bucknell's offensive opportunities last year), but there are two aspects to it that are most important. First, without a soul-crushing ride -- despite the goalie goals it yielded against Holy Cross and Lehigh -- Bucknell would have been in a tough possession margin situation: If the Herd had rode at the national average (13.74 percent), Bucknell's possession margin drops to just 0.69 per 60 minutes of play, a mark that would rank 26th nationally. That's about 21 preferable offensive opportunities that the Bison would miss out on, taking approximately seven goals off the board for Bucknell in the overall. Second, the team's ability to ride eliminated functional offensive opportunities before they were able to gestate. Look at that estimated functional defensive possession ratio value (defensive opportunities that breach the box): That's among the best in the nation. If you can kill defensive opportunities before they can build strength, the better in the long run (at least from a theoretical standpoint, understanding that dead possessions can't make the scoreboard blink). No team does what Bucknell does better than Bucknell (because no other team is Bucknell and Bucknell is a different kind of animal); that's exactly why the Bison are full of swoon.

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

  • Aggressiveness isn't without consequence. For Bucknell, its systemic aggressiveness creates exposure, and while that is often an acceptable residue, the Bison had a variable this past year that was troubling: Former keeper Kyle Feeney wasn't unbeatable. The eighth-round selection of the Charlotte Hounds regressed from his form early in his career (a tenure that earned him all-league honors in 2012 and 2011), and it showed in his and his team's statistical profile:

    BUCKNELL'S GOALKEEPING: A ENTERPRISE OF WANT
    METRIC VALUE NAT'L RANK
    Shots per Defensive Opportunity 0.91 3
    Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 29.03% 41
    Defensive Assist Rate 18.75 43
    Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 26.95 61
    Team Save Percentage 50.55% 44
    Bucknell wasn't seeing a lot of shots per defensive opportunity (for a myriad of reasons, including the team's ability to generate turnovers (the Bison ranked fourth nationally in opponent turnovers per 100 defensive opportunities)), but the shots that the Herd did yield didn't often end with a stop from the crease. That's . . . well, the result is fairly clear. This isn't all on Feeney (goalies don't exist in a vacuum), but his play in the circle contributed heavily -- there's a reason that the keeper finished 43rd nationally in individual save percentage (50.8 percent). You have to wonder just how tough Bucknell could have been had Feeney been on his game all season (the Bison ended the year ranked 15th in adjusted defensive efficiency).

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

  • Bucknell loses a handful of important assets going in 2014 -- Mike Huffner, Feeney, Chase Bailey -- but Fedorjaka has available to him a host of talent ready to crush faces -- Jackson Place, Ben Keller, David Dickson, Todd Heritage, Tom Flibotte, and a further cast of characters that is poised to challenge for the Patriot League title. The only "fix" I see is keeping the development arc on its trajectory and guarding against complacency. If Bucknell enters next year with the right state of mind and with consistent focus, the Bison could be a player in a crowded scene.
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