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Virginia Hopes to Play Like Virginia

Virginia's coaches are talking about getting some heat in their legs again in 2013.

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Stereotyping is just wrong, man. It's against the founding principles of the United States Constitution. (It's in the really small print. The founders were sneaky like that.) Although, stereotyping does tend to have some kind of basis in reality, even if that reality is historic and not particularly related to contemporary existence.

One of the stereotypes that has existed around college lacrosse recently was that Virginia, long a home for some of the best athletes in the game, was among the faster teams in the country, looking to push pace and smack faces all the time. Picking spots to go and going all the time are decidedly different things, and stereotyping tends to blow that fact into itty-bitty pieces. The fact of the matter is that Virginia -- at least over the last four seasons -- hasn't exactly looked to run and play tons and tons of possessions per game. There's nothing particularly wrong with that; it's just that the notion that Virginia is always looking for rocket-like tempos is drunk theory.

Lacrosse Magazine touched upon this in its fall ball examination of the Cavaliers as Starsia and Company, Ltd. look toward its post-Steele Stanwick era. Offensive Coordinator Marc Van Arsdale didn't hold back in his assessment of Virginia's approach over the last few seasons:

With quarterback Steele Stanwick and a plethora of talented attackmen at his disposal, Virginia was built less to get up and down the field and more to grind in the half-field. Brains over brawn.

"The last couple of years, we have scored many more goals proportionately out of the settled than we did in the unsettled," offensive coordinator Marc Van Arsdale said. "Counter to our reputation, we just haven't been that good in transition."

This season, longtime offensive stalwarts Stanwick, Chris Bocklet and Colin Briggs all have graduated. With the new rules encouraging a quicker pace, and a bunch of end-to-end athletes coalescing in the middle of the field, the Cavaliers are looking to dust off the turbojets. Call it a Chris Rotelli-like revival.

"The change in personnel and the new rules come at a good time for us. We want to play in a way that the 30-second [shot clock] almost never comes on," Van Arsdale said. "We want to be a team that's attacking quickly and all the time, which is back to how we have played some in the past but gotten away from the last couple of years."

Here's a little more detail on Virginia's pace during the Stanwick era: Since 2009, the Cavaliers have played above the national average in total possessions per game three times (2009 (+12), 2010 (+1), and 2011 (+4)), but in only one season -- 2009 -- did Virginia finish the season in the top-five. In fact, the Cavaliers finished the 2012 season ranked 42nd -- 42nd! -- in possessions per 60 minutes of play, averaging only about 64 possessions per game. (The Cavaliers played in only five games last year in which the team played over the national average of 65 total possessions. That's not exactly jet pack appropriate.)

I don't know if Virginia will actually out-pace their opponents in 2013 -- I do think that the rules will inherently push them to go a little more than they have in the past and there is enough midfield depth on the roster if the Cavaliers actually want to fly -- but the fact remains that if Virginia really does want to accelerate things to a frantic pace, they'll be doing it in a manner in which the program hasn't really been accomstomed over the last few years. That's a serious adjustment and approach to the game, and how the Cavaliers will react will be vital to the team's success.