Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (4) Loyola

Winslow Townson

If Charley Toomey doesn't take a timeout. . . .

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: Loyola Greyhounds

2013 Record: 11-5 (6-1, ECAC)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.94 (21)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.51 (27)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: -25.99%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 9.38 (4)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: -2.42

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • With the graduation of J.P. Dalton following the 2012 season, there was chatter as to whether the Greyhounds would hold their place among the nation's hyper-elite should Loyola play with a smaller possession margin in 2013 compared to 2012. This was a somewhat reasonable consideration: The 'Hounds went 18-1 in 2012 and the team's ability to dominate possession-generation was a factor in Loyola's charge toward a national championship (although it wasn't the sole reason). As the Greyhounds' 2013 campaign started to take shape and it became apparent that Loyola wouldn't win draws as they did in the season prior, an interesting narrative exposed itself: The 'Hounds were still really strong even though the team wasn't playing with huge possession margins in their favor. Loyola chugged along in a different kind of reality in 2013 compared to 2012, but the results were fairly similar: Loyola was performing at a level that was in the same ballpark as their effort in 2012:

    LOYOLA: DIFFERENT POSSESSION-GENERATION, SIMILAR RESULTS
    METRIC 2012 2013
    Possession Margin per 60 Minutes of Play 3.51 (8) 0.19 (30)
    Possession Ratio 52.68% (8) 50.14% (30)
    Faceoff Percentage 50.58% (28) 46.48% (46)
    Clearing Percentage 91.64% (1) 95.48% (1)
    Riding Percentage 16.95% (24) 8.89% (59)
    Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 34.97 (10) 35.05 (10)
    Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 23.17 (4) 25.67 (11)
    Pythagorean Win Expectation 78.18% (2) 72.42% (4)
    I think people forget this because the Greyhounds exited The Big Barbecue before the ribs came out of the smoker: Loyola was really good in 2013. Part of the reason that the 'Hounds were good is that Loyola maximized opportunities on both ends of the field; part of the reason that underlies why the Greyhounds were notably good is that Loyola was able to transition from 2012 -- where the defense wasn't overexposed and the offense was given extra opportunity after extra opportunity to make the scoreboard blink -- to 2013 where different facts would dictate the force of play. Handling different situations from season to season shows development and adaption, two traits that the 'Hounds excelled at in 2013.

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

  • It's hard to look anywhere other than the timeout that Loyola took with 59 seconds remaining in regulation against Duke in the NCAA Tournament. Is that fair? Probably not. Loyola's season wasn't defined by Toomey's decision to stop the clock with Blake Burkhart charging at the net -- facing a sophomore keeper in his first really big spot in the most pressure-packed moment that college lacrosse provides (with, admittedly, defenders in tow) -- to try and set up a play to win the game. The Greyhounds were rolling with one of the most capable offenses in the nation (with defense-busting weapons like Mike Sawyer and Justin Ward), looking to crush Duke's defense (comparative to the Devils' offense, Duke's defense was the team's weaker side of the ball). The conservative, if not intelligent, decision was to take the timeout and control the final minute on the clock. But . . . Burkhart ended up burying his shot, an attempt that would have put the Greyhounds up 12-11 with under a minute to play. The "What if?" here is palpable: Players are coached as to what to do in those kinds of scenarios; players should latently understand whether an action is prudent in these kinds of circumstances. Burkhart saw the opportunity, synthesized the scenario, and took a shot -- a shot that doesn't exist in the record of the game because the timeout was called. That's difficult to stomach, not solely because Loyola ended up falling to Duke in double overtime, but because: (1) On the ensuing possession out of the timeout, Greg DeLuca stripped Sean O'Sullivan of the bean before Loyola was even able to take a shot, erasing the possession that Toomey attempted to protect; and (2) Loyola would get just four more offensive opportunities in the rest of the game and three of those opportunities were lost due to turnovers (Loyola would muster just two shots against the Devils' defense in those opportunities, one from Harry Kutner that went wide and one from Brian Schultz which Kyle Turri saved). I don't know what I would have done if I was Toomey in that situation (and hindsight is always 20-20), but the Greyhounds' 2013 season may have had a different kind of ending had run-of-play continued without stoppage.

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

  • Loyola is going to have all kinds of new friends in 2014! This, while exciting for the Greyhounds, does create some issues: Instead of opening the three-ring binder labeled "ECAC Homeboys," a compilation that intricately details the strengths and weaknesses of Loyola's former conference peers, the 'Hounds will now open the three-ring binder labeled "Patriot Pals," a compilation filled with pages that merely read "This school has a lacrosse team." Adjusting to life in the Patriot League -- even considering the fact that Loyola will enter the conference as one of the league's stronger teams -- is going to take some time: These are different road trips; these are different opponents to prepare for (especially the animal that is Bucknell); these are different games to make players stay focused on as rivalries haven't been established yet. How the 'Hounds adjust to their new sandbox mates is an important facet to Loyola's 2014 season.
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