The Face-Off Classic is dynamiting your lacrosse universe on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Six teams are set to square off in a triple-header starting at 11:00 A.M. Get your brain full of all kinds of delicious information with College Crosse's profiles of each of the festivals' participants.
I want to believe that the UMBC that went on a 5-1 run to defeat Maryland earlier this week is the UMBC that shows up on Saturday against Johns Hopkins. I also want a dragon that breathes fire and smokes my enemies on command. The likelihood of the latter actually happening is small; the possibility of the former is greater, but I'll remain skeptical until I actually see it.
UMBC (AMERICA EAST)
Average teams oftentimes do really weird things. (Not the kind of weird things that involve running in the street in boxer shorts and making statements to the local police, though.) UMBC is a prime example of an average team that makes you wonder exactly how good they are: The Retrievers open the season with a loss to a pretty awful Robert Morris outfit; they then proceed to get into a dogfight with a very mediocre Rutgers team; then, it's an overtime fist fight with unbeaten Fairfield; and, finally, a shocking upset of Maryland at home in a mid-week dynamo.
What the hell kind of team are the Retrievers? Honestly, your guess is as good as mine (unless your guess involves dragons that serve as your personal assassin). Here's the heat on UMBC:
|BIG STATS||PACE STATS|
|Raw Off. Efficiency||27.69||Opp. Clear %||87.01%|
|Raw Def. Efficiency||27.87||Faceoff %||56.47%|
|Off. Poss./60 min.||32.40|
|DEFENSIVE STATS||Def. Poss./60 min.||30.40|
|Saves/Def. Poss.||0.36||OFFENSIVE STATS|
|Opp. Sht. %.||26.15%||Goal Differential||+2|
|Opp. Effective Sht. %||27.43%||Shooting %||27.48%|
|Def. Assist Rate||13.93||Effective Sht. %||28.12%|
|Man-Down/Def. Poss.||0.06||Assist Rate||19.23|
|Man-Down Conversion %||0.00%||EMO per Off. Poss.||0.17|
|Man-Down Reliance||0.00||EMO Conversion %||22.73%|
|C/T per Def. Poss.||0.21||EMO Reliance||0.14|
|Opp. Saves/Off. Poss.||0.22|
Three pieces of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:
- There is one huge thing that sticks out about UMBC: The Retrievers hate the bean. I mean, the ball is like a mayonnaise and diced brick sandwich to UMBC. The team's turnover rate is through the roof and one of the highest I've seen this season: At about 52 turnovers per offensive possession, UMBC is doing a terrific job at being sloppy and a terrible job at taking advantage of opportunities. I still can't understand how the Retrievers upset the Terrapins with a turnover rate of .6 (that works out to 60 turnovers per 100 offensive possessions). It just doesn't make any sense. Yet, it happened and reality isn't malleable like truth in a job resume or where you were last night when your wife asks you in that tone that you absolutely hate. Hopkins isn't exactly lighting the world on fire in the caused turnover category (only about 25 per 100 defensive possessions), but against a generally staunch Blue Jays defense, UMBC is going to need to buck its turnover trend to give itself a shot at victory.
- UMBC is probably going to get the pace it wants on Saturday: Grinding, with a dash of danger. The Retrievers aren't playing with jet packs this season (they're only playing around 63 possessions per 60 minutes of play) and while Johns Hopkins' overall pace is higher than they've played the last few years (about 70 possessions per 60 minutes of play), the Blue Jays are more than willing to keep things under control. The problem with this for UMBC, though, is that if the Retrievers can't generate more offensive possessions than Hopkins -- a factor that UMBC hasn't excelled at this season -- the Retrievers are going to need to maximize their offensive possessions against one of the better defenses in the country. As UMBC is shooting only about 27.5 percent on the year and as Johns Hopkins is holding its opponents to only about 23 percent shooting in 2012, this could get ugly quick (or, as it were, slowly).
- With respect to possession margin: UMBC is going to need to do a good job with its pace factors in order to try and get its possession percentage somewhere around 55 percent. The Retrievers have been clearing well on the season, but Hopkins is holding opponents to only a 74.34 percent success rate. The Retrievers have been winning 56.47 percent of their draws on the year, but Hopkins is over 60 percent. UMBC hasn't really dominated a ride this year, allowing opponents to clear at an 87.01 percent rate; the Blue Jays are clearing at an 88.46 percent clip. This is an upward climb for UMBC to generate extra offensive possessions on Saturday, and the outlook doesn't look all that good.
For more on UMBC's opponent -- Johns Hopkins -- check out the Blue Jays' profile here.