Whether I like it or not (I don't), St. John's will play Rutgers at 1:00 at New Meadowlands Stadium. Not only does this game have zero juice, it's about the 20th most-interesting game this weekend. Hell, Inside Lacrosse is basically treating this as a throw-away game, choosing to market the fact that four of the nation's top-10 teams will be in action on Sunday, as well as two teams that will play a Big East Conference game.
I don't know why Hofstra isn't playing Sunday. I also don't know why Penn State (large New York City alumni base), Notre Dame (same), Army (relatively close and competitive), Stony Brook (am I getting repetitive?) and on and on and on aren't paired up in the opener. It's frustrating, I guess, but there's no use in complaining about it anymore.
We're getting what we're getting, and that's two solid games and a bucket of slop.
ST. JOHN'S (2-6, 0-1): BIG EAST
What St. John's Does Well
- Survive. St. John's is a pretty bad team. Like other pretty bad lacrosse teams, St. John's deals with a lot damage, usually of the self-inflicted variety. In the case of the Red Storm, it's taking penalties seemingly every chance they get. The Johnnies are 48th in the nation in penalites given per possession (0.0736) and are in man-down scenarios a ton (the team has a 0.1367 man-down rate per defensive possession, "good" for 46th in the country). That's asking for a lot of trouble, especially when you're not all that good. The fact of the matter, though, is that St. John's has weathered the storm: The team is 18th in personnel imbalance conversion rate (26.32%, 18th in the land) and their opposition hasn't relied on the man-up to take out the kids from Queens (only about 12.8% of St. John's goals-against have been in man-down circumstances, which is right around the national average).
Those aren't necessarily tremendous man-down statistics, but just imagine if St. John's wasn't as effective as it has been in those scenarios. The Johnnies are surviving, and that's not the worst thing in the world.
- Embrace the Advantage. It was a struggle to come up with this point; as I said, St. John's isn't all that great in a lot of different ways. The Johnnies, however, are creating personnel imbalance work for their opposition. The team's man-up conversion rate isn't all that hot (about 29.55%, that's 32nd nationally and about two percentage points under the national average), but they're drawing tons of penalties (the Red Storm has drawn the fourth-most penalties out of their opponents on a possession basis (0.0862)), have played a ton of man-up offensive possessions (seventh-most nationally), and have been better on the man-up this year than in six-on-six scenarios (this is seen through the team's extra-man reliance rate (EMO goals over total goals) of 0.1857, fifth-most in the land).
So, it's not that St. John's is "good" on the man-up; it's that they're able to roll with the extra attacker a lot and, as they struggle to score without a personnel imabalance, have been getting most of their offense from their extra-man unit. But the extra-man unit is mediocre. Whatever. You get the picture.
What St. John's Does Poorly
- Everything? Well, that's not necessarily true. There are a lot of things that St. John's is just about average at, but the Johnnies rank in the bottom-third of the country (41st or lower) in the following major statistical categories:
41ST OR WORSE IN . . . METRIC VALUE RANKING AVERAGE Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 25.70 43 28.00 Adjusted Efficiency Margin -2.15 46 0.93 Offensive Shots Per Possession 0.9534 41 0.9947 Offensive Assist Rate 11.47 52 15.05 Man-Down Per Possession 0.1367 46 0.1172 Penalties Per Possession (Given) 0.0736 48 0.0617
I'm not sure that this needs a lot of elucidation so I'll boil it down to a super scientific formula: Bad offense + Average defense that's needs to play on the man-down a lot = <raspberry>.
This isn't the worst team in the country, but it's definitely in the bottom-third.