Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (3) Syracuse

USA TODAY Sports

The offense got the majority of the ink for the Orange in 2013, but without the defense, Syracuse doesn't make Championship Weekend.

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: Syracuse Orange

2013 Record: 16-4 (5-1, Big East)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.50 (18)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 1.02 (23)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +27.06%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 9.83 (3)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: +5.61

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • The Orange's offense -- deservedly so -- received all kinds of ink this past season. In fact, it became almost statutory law that space be dedicated to the prism that was Syracuse's offense. That's fair, but the praise that was heaped on the Orange's offensive spaceship of destruction seemed to overshadow what Leland Rogers was torturing opponents with on the defensive end of the field. At season's end, Syracuse's defense was every part the national powerhouse that the Orange's offense was:

    THE ORANGE TORTURE CHAMBER
    METRIC VALUE NAT'L RANK
    Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 25.39 9
    Shots per Defensive Opportunity 0.97 8
    Raw Defensive Shooting Percentage 27.41% 26
    Defensive Assist Rate 13.04 4
    Run-of-Play Work Rate Margin (Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Opportunities Margin +4.16 10
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Offenses Faced 32.13 8
    Here's the thing about Syracuse's defensive effort, though: It performed in incredibly difficult circumstances. Facing notable exposure (the Orange played at a minus-1.39 possession deficit per 60 minutes of play), Syracuse's defense was effective despite the potential for fatigue and increased lack of focus due to continued requests to make stops. But that's not all: (1) Due to Syracuse's woeful faceoff play, the Orange defense was often required to make immediate stops off the draw to kill make-it-take-it opportunities for the opposition, thereby allowing the Orange to avoid playing from large deficits on the scoreboard; and (2) Syracuse needed stops from its defense to create offensive opportunities -- approximately 62.29 percent of the Orange's offensive opportunities came from clearing postures (about 30.91 percent came from faceoff wins and around 6.80 percent came from the Orange's ride). In function, if Syracuse's defense isn't among the hyper-elite, the Orange's chances for making Championship Weekend shrink considerably: Not only did the 'Cuse defense keep tallies off the board, but it also created necessary offensive opportunities for a bonkers offense to embarrass opposing goalkeepers. That's layered value.

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

  • The loss to Villanova in the regular season was a kick to the teeth for Orange fans (Syracuse uncharacteristically turned the ball over, treating the ball as if it were a disease that would cause aliens to grow out of your stomach), but it's the loss to Hobart -- in the Carrier Dome -- that likely serves as the biggest "THIS CRAP IS CRAP!" moment for sociopathic Syracuse fans in 2013. Leading 12-9 with under 12 minutes to play in regulation, the Statesmen ripped off four straight goals, putting the game-winning tally on the board at the 2:21 mark of the final period. In those final 12 minutes, Syracuse had six offensive opportunities, four of which featured a Zonino save and one -- the first -- was a blown one-minute extra-man opportunity; Hobart had eight offensive opportunities in those final dozen minutes, scoring two goals directly off of face-off victories (including the game-winner), tallying another marker off of a JoJo Marasco turnover (that tally knotted the scoreboard at 12), and managed to also commit three turnovers that Syracuse could do nothing with (two of those Syracuse opportunities featured a Zonino stop). Those final 720 seconds were torture for the Orange (and ecstasy for the Statesmen), arguably the toughest stretch of play to watch from Syracuse during 2013 (at both ends of the field) outside of the extended curb-stomping that Duke put on the Orange in the national title game. To top it all off? Based on a year-end log5 analysis, Syracuse would be 80 percent favorites against the Statesmen.

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

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