The college lacrosse season is three-quarters over, you guys! For fans of Wagner, that has got to be a relief. There's only so much losing the body can handle, and the Seahawks have assaulted their body with it since the opening face-off of the season.
For most other folks, though, this is where stuff starts getting good. Not only are conference tournaments right around the corner, but the big show -- the NCAA's (or, alternatively, "The Lacrosse Prom") -- is just about a month away.
I updated the ol' efficiency workbook and you can access it right here. It should reflect all games played through this past Monday (April 11, 2011). At this point in the season, everyone has their resume. The contenders are starting to emerge and those with potentially fatal flaws are starting to show them. Despite this, it's still anyone's game.
Below are a few top-10 charts for both team and player statistics. I provide brief commentary after each table.
If defense wins championships then you need to look at Notre Dame as a legitimate threat to return to Memorial Monday. The Irish are a disciplined defensive squad, anchored by the highly capable Jack Kemp. Kevin Corrigan's squad thrives off its defensive efficiency, and it's not surprising that the team is currently unbeaten.
Also: If I told you 360 days ago that Johns Hopkins would have a top-five defense featuring tons of youth you'd probably smack me in the nose, right? Hell, you might have done that in January of this year.
This is what makes the Big Red so scary. They are an offensive firecracker, converting on a ridiculous number of their offensive opportunities. When you have a guy like Rob Pannell setting the pace for an attack (as shown below), a lot of really good things happen. The offense is where Cornell really makes its money (the team is 17th in adjusted defensive efficiency) and if you can slow down the Big Red, you might be able to bite them.
Point of Fact: Syracuse's adjusted offensive efficiency is ranked 20th nationally. While there is concern about the Orange taking draws, a similar concern should exist relative to how well the offense has played in the overall this year. Zone offense, anyone?
This is where you identify your title contenders. You can have a great defense, but if you can't score there could be trouble. Same for the inverse. Truly great teams -- 1990 Syracuse, 2006 Virginia, etc. -- have efficient offenses and defenses, and Notre Dame is flirting with that despite how the Irish go about their business.
As I've written a lot this year: Notre Dame may not have the best players in the nation, and they may play a mind-numbing style, but nobody does what Notre Dame does better than the Irish. That is a team that flat-out executes.
Also: Don't sleep on Denver. The victory over Duke may have alleviated some doubts about the Pioneers. They have two of the best offensive players in the country in Matthews and Demopoulos and are piloted by one of the best coaches in the game in Bill Tierney.
|4.||K. Crowley||Stony Brook||11.94|
|7.||T. Moore||Robert Morris||10.88|
|8.||N. Galasso||North Carolina||10.78|
|10.||S. Sturgis||Penn State||10.49|
You can argue whether a defensive player should win the Tewaaraton Trophy, but among offensive players Rob Pannell is in his own class. Pannell is the spark plug to the most efficient offense in the country. He's putting together a terrific season.
|2.||T. Moore||Robert Morris||8.53|
These are your finishers (it ranks goals per possession). Robert Morris' style -- somewhat reminiscent of Loyola Marymount in college basketball under Paul Westhead -- catapults Trevor Moore into the top-10.
|4.||N. Galasso||North Carolina||6.47|
|9.||S. Sturgis||Penn State||5.24|
|10.||K. Crowley||Stony Brook||5.16|
Scott Perri is a poor man's Rob Pannell, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If Drexel hopes to make a run at the CAA/THUNDERDOME! crown the Dragons will need Perri to continue to make that engine purr.