2014 College Lacrosse Preview: The New Head Coaches

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

There are three new faces blowing the big whistle this year.

There were three head coaching changes this offseason:

That isn't a lot of turnover, but it's still three new faces -- two of them in new places -- charged with winning lacrosse games and wearing polo shirts with khaki pants. Here's what they're inheriting and what could be best and worst case scenarios for their first campaigns in their new roles:

Jon Basti: Sacred Heart
Team Profile:

DOSSIER: SACRED HEART
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
2013 Pyth. Win Exp. 31.66% 51
4-Yr. Pyth. Win. Exp. Avg. 32.62% 51*
4-Yr. Pyth. Win Exp. Var. 0.0004 1*
2013 W/L % 21.43% 55
4-Yr. W/L % 27.27% 54*
* Ranking based on teams that participated at the Division I level for the last four seasons.

Best Case Scenario:

  • Basti is able to duplicate the team's run to the Northeast Conference Tournament in 2013. That would require at least three wins in league play, something Sacred Heart has done only once -- in 2013 (in 2011 and 2012, the Pioneers put together consecutive one-win conference campaigns).
  • Sweeps High Point, Vermont, and Wagner in whatever form necessary.
  • Team finishes somewhere around five or six wins, a mark that Sacred Heart hasn't achieved since a 7-5 campaign in 2008.
  • Team shows marked improvement at the end of the season compared to where the team started in mid-February.

Worst Case Scenario:

  • Sacred Heart struggles to adjust to Basti's regime and puts together an extended losing streak to start the season, many of which are heartbreaking (not unlike the team's start to its 2013 campaign, an effort that saw the Pioneers suffer eight consecutive losses to open the year).
  • Loses to Vermont and High Point.
  • Another one-win conference campaign -- the lone victory coming against Wagner -- sets Sacred Heart back after an important breakthrough in 2013.
  • The team's dreadful Pythagorean win expectation -- which hasn't varied at all since 2010 -- remains static, a difficult pill to swallow in a year of new opportunity.

Greg Raymond: Hobart
Team Profile:

DOSSIER: HOBART
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
2013 Pyth. Win Exp. 40.94% 37
4-Yr. Pyth. Win. Exp. Avg. 36.13% 49*
4-Yr. Pyth. Win Exp. Var. 0.0028 19*
2013 W/L % 42.86% 40
4-Yr. W/L % 32.73% 49*
* Ranking based on teams that participated at the Division I level for the last four seasons.

Best Case Scenario:

  • Hobart storms into the Northeast Conference with a purpose, riding the play of Alex Love and Cam Stone to the league's automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament. The Statesmen -- likely in a play-in scenario -- makes their opponent poop their pants a little bit and, depending on the particular matchup, advances to the field proper.
  • Raymond is able to wake up some of Hobart's history, liberating the Statesmen from their four-year campaign as a team expected to win only about 40 percent of their games. Much of the team's increased success is attributable to a decrease in taking penalties and a stronger clearing game -- hallmarks of a team transitioning to a new and more pronounced conscience.
  • Beats Syracuse in Geneva, allowing the fish to fly. Finishes New York campaign -- against Siena, Cornell, Binghamton, Colgate, Canisius, and Syracuse -- with a positive record.

Worst Case Scenario:

  • A repeat of previous seasons: Enough talent to play with some big boys but questionable results exist. Not unlike Georgetown last season, Hobart needs time to adjust to Raymond and flashes of improvement exist but not at the level or rate that many Statesmen fans desire.
  • Makes the NEC Tournament but is in a war with Bryant.

Matt Kerwick: Cornell
Team Profile:

DOSSIER: CORNELL
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
2013 Pyth. Win Exp. 81.26% 11
4-Yr. Pyth. Win. Exp. Avg. 73.87% 1*
4-Yr. Pyth. Win Exp. Var. 0.0059 34*
2013 W/L % 77.78% 2
4-Yr. W/L % 74.24% 3*
* Ranking based on teams that participated at the Division I level for the last four seasons.

Best Case Scenario:

  • Cornell doesn't miss a beat under Kerwick, pushing all of the distractions of the offseason to the rear and hurtling through 2014 with the same level of exceptionalism that the program has established. Team finishes in the top two in the Ivy League and advances to the Ivy League Tournament final. Is in the conversation for the NCAA Tournament all season long.
  • The losses of Steve Mock, Rob Pannell, and Jason Noble hurt, but the Big Red are able to plug and play with returning contributors to maintain a top 15-type of existence. Kerwick's offensive sophistication is able to keep Cornell in games and erase some of the issues that the Red may feel on the defensive end.
  • Doug Tesoriero gives Cornell possession after possession, allowing Cornell to work through its transition with a heavy possession margin in its favor, putting all kinds of pressure on the opposition to maximize opportunities against a still-decent Cornell team.

Worst Case Scenario:

  • Cornell looks like a minimalist impression of its former self. The losses of Pannell and DeLuca are too much to overcome and Cornell struggles for positioning in a deep and muddled Ivy League.
  • Even with Kerwick's offensive acumen, the loss of four of the team's top six point-generators from 2013 is too difficult for the Red to handle. Cornell struggles to score and is forced to play a ton of close games that could go either way.
  • Distractions from an oppressive offseason carry over into the spring and the Red can't seem to find its focus.
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