Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (8) Princeton

USA TODAY Sports

Team Tom was *thisclose* to the NCAA Tournament.

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: Princeton Tigers

2013 Record: 9-6 (3-3, Ivy)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 3.57 (2)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.30 (32)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: -8.75%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 8.54 (8)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: -2.32

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Princeton's offense -- thanks, in part, to the continued existence of The Human Weapon (Tom Schreiber) -- was a crushing destroyer in 2013 . . .

    WELCOME TO THE SHOW
    METRIC VALUE NAT'L RANK
    Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 38.51 6
    Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.19 8
    Raw Offensive Shooting Percentage 29.58% 20
    Offensive Assist Rate 21.21 11
    Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 41.25 13
    Opponent Saves per 100 Princeton Offensive Opportunities 28.40 3
    Opponent Save Percentage 44.65% 4
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Defenses Faced 27.74 1
    . . . but that's not -- as a singular aspect of play -- what impresses me the most about the Tigers' 2013 campaign. Rather, it's what happened on the other end of the field for Princeton that deserves the most praise: After losing John Cunningham, Tyler Fiorito, Jon Meyers, and Chad Wiedmaier to graduation (and Rob Castelo to injury), the Tigers looked poised to take a notable step back defensively and potentially serve as a serious ceiling-limiter for Princeton. With a patchwork defense that featured a converted short-stick defensive midfielder (Nick Fernandez) and a true freshman (Mark Strabo) alongside Derick Raabe, the Tigers were a fairly effective defensive unit (despite some uneven play between the pipes):

    WELCOME TO THE SHOW
    METRIC VALUE NAT'L RANK
    Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 29.97 23
    Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.12 37
    Raw Defensive Shooting Percentage 27.21% 23
    Defensive Assist Rate 20.00 49
    Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 31.11 44
    Save Percentage 50.49% 45
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Offenses Faced 31.31 16
    This isn't to say that Princeton was an exceptional defensive team last year, but it could have been a lot uglier for the Tigers given the circumstances that they needed to deal with. It's not easy to replace the core of a defense in one offseason and still manage to perform at an decent level against quality competition. Princeton, to its credit, was able to accomplish that (or, at a minimum, approached accomplishing it).

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

  • It probably wasn't the biggest upset of the season (LaxPower ranks it fourth), but I'm not sure any team suffered a loss that created as much residual catastrophe as Princeton's loss to Dartmouth in New Hampshire. Looking back at that game, it still doesn't make sense: (1) Princeton, based on year-end performance values, would still be a 79%-21% favorite over the Big Green; (2) The Tigers had, in around the two weeks leading up to its date with Dartmouth, knocked off Yale, went toe-to-toe with Syracuse, and shattered the faces of Brown and Rutgers -- the Tigers were playing good enough ball to decimate a Big Green team that had only won two games prior to their meeting with Princeton; and (3) Princeton was playing for NCAA Tournament at-large consideration, all the motivation a team would need to not have a brain fart in mid-April. How does this happen (other than, of course, learning that the Big Green poisoned Princeton water jugs)? And it's not like Dartmouth hung around and won at the buzzer: The Tigers pitched away an 8-5 lead midway through the third quarter, seeing Dartmouth use a 5-1 run over the final 21:43 of play to earn a 10-9 victory. In a year when bad losses were treated as land mines, Dartmouth's submarine of Princeton in Hanover served as the defining moment to the Tigers season after Princeton was unable to summit Yale in the Ivy League Tournament final. Woof.

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

  • Chris Bates has probably had his fill of sending fancy "Welcome to the team!" gift baskets to new coaches this summer. After replacing the entirety -- all three, including Greg Raymond who left to lead Hobart -- of his 2013 staff, Bates is now tasked with not only integrating a freshman class but also a coaching staff that needs to understand and promote his vision for the Tigers program. There is necessary relationship-building here -- both between the coaches and between the coaches and players -- and this may take some time to take hold.

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