This is the Patriot League, basically:
Underlying background information -- team and league storylines -- that structures the plot.
|4-YR. AVG. LEAGUE PYTHAG. WIN EXPECT. (POWER)||52.29%||4|
|4-YR. AVG. LEAGUE PYTHAG. WIN EXPECT. STDEV (INTERNAL COMPETITIVENESS)||0.162||7|
|TEAM||AVERAGE PYTH. WIN EXP.||NATIONAL RANK|
- Losing Brendan Buckley -- the Patriot League's defensive player of the year in 2013 -- is a major issue for Army entering the 2014 season, but Buckley -- despite his omnipotence -- wasn't the entirety of the Black Knights defense from a season ago. While a major cog to the team's defensive fortunes, Buckley wasn't the machine itself, and that machine did some really mean things to the opposition last season:
ARMY'S DEFENSIVE PROFILE: 2013 METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 25.55 10 Shots per Defensive Opportunity 0.95 5 Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 25.06% 8 Defensive Assist Rate 13.04 5 Opponent Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities 51.74 7 Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities 25.43 17 Unforced Opponent Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities 26.30 11 Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 30.87 46 Team Save Percentage 56.57% 10
- The Terriers are likely selling three things to potential recruits: (1) Boston is an awesome college town; (2) We're going to have major competition in the Patriot League; and (3) We're going to compete sooner rather than later. The issue for Boston University, though, is that it's existing in a region with a host of other choices for potential talent. Although only one of two schools in Boston with a Division I lacrosse program, the New England region counts 13 schools that sponsor the game at its highest level, competition that could stymie the Terriers' growth given the fact that the large number of these schools are established entities:
B.U.'s REGIONAL COMPETITIORS: PYTHAGOREAN WIN EXPECTATIONS (2010-2013) TEAM VALUE NATIONAL RANK Massachusetts 59.07% 16 Yale 58.96% 17 Brown 53.91% 24 Fairfield 53.62% 26 Harvard 52.46% 28 Bryant 49.04% 32 Hartford 43.31% 40 Dartmouth 40.97% 43 Quinnipiac 38.98% 44 Sacred Heart 32.62% 51 Vermont 31.50% 52 Holy Cross 30.94% 53 Providence 26.12% 55
- The Bison are positioned to cause a lot of pain this season. The offensive unit is loaded, returning all but one -- Chase Bailey -- of its double-digit point-generators from a season ago. The issue with the Bison, though, is the team's unsettled goalkeeping situation. Kyle Feeney -- a fixture in the crease for Bucknell in his four years at Lewisburg -- didn't have an exemplary season in the cage for the Bison in 2013:
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
- The Raiders have had an uneven trajectory in the Patriot League over the last four seasons:
COLGATE'S PATRIOT LEAGUE EXISTENCE SINCE 2010 YEAR LEAGUE RECORD PLACEMENT 2010 2-4 T5 2011 5-1 2 2012 5-1 T1 2013 3-3 4 FAMILIES ARE ALWAYS RISING AND FALLING IN AMERICA YEAR PYTHAGOREAN WIN EXPECTATION NATIONAL RANK 2013 44.14% 34 2012 70.56% 7 2011 52.93% 27 2010 34.59% 48
- This is one of my favorite tables to publish:
HOLY CROSS' GROWTH: 2011-2013 METRIC 2011 2012 2013 Pythagorean Win Expectation 17.91% (56) 25.96% (55) 41.15% (36) Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 19.51 (58) 26.10 (48) 29.05 (39) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 31.89 (52) 36.60 (56) 32.60 (36) Adjusted Efficiency Margin -12.37 (56) -10.50 (55) -3.55 (36)
- Competitive teams don't aim a tactical nuclear weapon at their foot and pull the trigger. Valuing possession -- especially for teams that play at a deflated pace (and the Leopards were that kind of team in 2013, ranking 57th nationally in possessions per 60 minutes of play) -- is a tool of opportunity-maximization, the cornerstone to success. Lafayette has some work to do in that department:
THE BALL IS DEATH METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 32.75 63 Opponent Caused Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 28.46 61 Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 61.21 63 Turnover Margin per 100 Opportunities -19.17 62 "Run-of-Play Work Rate" Margin -7.21 61
- The issue gripping the Mountain Hawks right now is the loss of two of the program's most important players -- Dante Fantoni and David DiMaria. The graduations of the Lao-Gosney twins took a couple of bullets out of Lehigh's chamber in 2013, but the continued reality that DiMaria and Fantoni provided helped the Mountain Hawks remain a nationally-relevant program, balanced at both the offensive and defensive ends of the field. The attackmen's efforts not only pushed Lehigh's offense toward the top of the nation -- the Mountain Hawks finished 2013 ranked 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency, shot 20.41 percent (17th nationally), were seventh in assist rate, and only three teams had an opponent save rate lower than Lehigh's 59.34 percent mark -- but their performances also made the cats in their orbit deadly: Dan Taylor and Patrick Corbett put 79 and 53 points on the board, respectively, because of the ability of DiMaria and Fantoni to distribute the bean and draw the attention of opposing defenses. This is a major production issue that the Mountain Hawks face this coming spring, and "Next guy up!" may not be the most direct answer to Lehigh's potential problems.
- The Greyhounds went 11-5 last season and made the NCAA Tournament, a solid effort coming off of a charmed 2012 season in which Loyola won its first national championship. What is a little disappointing about the Greyhounds effort in 2013, though, is that Loyola could have had an exemplary season. Loyola was expected, based on their performance on the field, to win about 12 games last season, a one-win underachievement for the team. When you start digging into Loyola's losses last year, however, you can start to see lost opportunities against solid competition:
LOYOLA'S LOST OPPORTUNITIES: 2013 GAME LOYOLA'S LOG5 CHANCE OF VICTORY RESULT Maryland at Loyola 51.35% 12-10 (L) Loyola at Duke 57.81% 8-9 (L) // 11-12 2OT (L) Denver at Loyola 55.35% 13-12 OT (L) Loyola v. Ohio State 60.95% 11-18
- After notably improving from 2011 to 2012, Navy drastically regressed from 2012 to 2013. In fact, only two schools -- Colgate and Massachusetts -- saw a more pronounced decrease in their Pythagorean win expectation than Navy's regression: The Midshipmen's win expectation drop of 25.70 percent was, quite simply, dastardly. In terms of adjusted efficiency margin, just one program -- the Minutemen -- had a wider gulf between their 2012 ranking in the metric and their 2013 finishing position: Navy's 28 position slide stood in stark contrast to the team's 23 position climb from 2011 to 2012.Navy needs to find its identity under Sowell; the team's overall performance likely follows from that foundation. Sowell has only been in Annapolis for two seasons, and with the core that he's working with -- Sam Jones, Tucker Hull, Kiernan, etc. -- Sowell should have the parts necessary to get Navy's momentum moving in the right direction. Navy is always going to have a different kind of experience in the whole of Division I lacrosse; thriving in that situation is Annapolis' biggest issue at the moment.
Four important conference games that will define the discussion.
GAME I: Bucknell at Loyola -- April 17th
GAME II: Loyola at Lehigh -- March 1st
GAME III: Lehigh at Bucknell -- March 8th
GAME IV: Navy at Army -- April 12th
Illustrating the landscape of the universe.
The competitiveness in the league's delineated tranches is what's going to define the conference in 2014. Loyola is the favorite, but Bucknell and Lehigh are likely capable of assassinating the Greyhounds' character. The second pool -- Army and Colgate -- is tightly bunched; their positioning is going to be important given the Patriot League's extended postseason format this season. The next tranche -- Navy and Holy Cross (and maybe Lafayette) -- could be in a nasty street fight for the conference's final tournament position. And Boston University is going to get smacked in the face with freedom.