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Patriot League Lacrosse Tournament Participant Profile: Colgate

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Every Division I tournament. Every team. College Crosse has it all on lockdown. Please send cookies and naptime. Today we're slashing to bits the Patriot League Tournament.

Here's the truth: Colgate's strength of schedule isn't all that hot. (The Raiders' strength of schedule, based on opponent efficiency margin, is only ranked 36th in the country. That's not particularly exciting.)

Here's something that is often truth: Good teams are good teams are good teams. It doesn't necessarily matter who a good team plays because good teams are still good teams. A tough strength of schedule tends to provide solid tests for good teams and gives them good experience, but it doesn't necessarily make a good team better or a bad team good. Strength of schedule helps knuckleheads like me assert that a good team is a good team -- "Well, they only have two losses and look who they've played!" -- but it doesn't necessarily determine whether a good team is a good team. Good teams generally win, and while that isn't the bottom line, it's pretty close to it.

And I think that Colgate is a pretty good team despite the Raiders' schedule. Good times.

Anyway, here's the heat on Colgate.

Colgate Raiders: One-Seed

For a more complete, mind-bending picture, here's a .pdf of the complete report.

Record 11-2 (5-1) Clear % 89.87% (5)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 35.30 (10) Opp. Clear % 79.24% (6)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 26.12 (16) Faceoff % 57.60% (9)
Poss. Percentage 51.9% (13) Pace 73.04 (7)
Off. Poss./60 min. 37.90 (1)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 35.14 (46)
Save Percentage 47.1%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.23 (60) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 30.77% (48) Goal Differential +56
Opp. Effective Sht. % 31.28% (46) Shooting % 31.48% (13)
Def. Assist Rate 12.01 (6) Effective Sht. % 32.14% (13)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.07 (7) Assist Rate 19.84 (17)
Man-Down Conversion % 35.29% (36) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.09 (45)
Man-Down Reliance 0.10 (21) EMO Conversion % 47.83% (5)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.28 (7) EMO Reliance 0.13 (32)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.39 (7)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.33 (38)

Three pieces of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:

  • Here's the most important thing about Colgate: The Raiders have Peter Baum and Division I's 60 other teams do not. Baum is probably one of the three or four most potent offensive weapons in the country and he's proved it all season: As of Monday morning, Baum is ranked third nationally in total offensive value at 13.58. (That's a metric that measures total point output per 100 offensive possessions, adjusted for opponents played.) He trails only Steele Stanwick and Will Manny, which is the kind of company you like to keep because they drive Mercedes Benz's and the ladies love 'em. The thing about Baum, though, is that while he's a handful himself -- you can't really stop him; you just hope that after he annihilates you that he leaves you at least a leg so that you can hobble home -- the fact that he's on the field creates opportunities for others around him. He draws the defense's attention at all times, allowing for guys like Ryan Walsh and Jeff Ledwick to find space against preferred match-ups. He's a total horse even when he's not asked to carry the load, a richer man's Logan Schuss. I don't know if he's the player of the year in 2012, but he's as important to his team as any player in the country.
  • Playing Colgate is like bobbing in the ocean without arms: The tide is going to wash you under at some point unless the weather pattern suddenly changes. The Raiders are seventh-nationally in pace (73.04 possessions per 60 minutes of play); they play more offensive possessions per 60 minutes of play than anybody in the land at 37.90; they inundate opposing defenses with shots (1.13 shots per offensive possession, good for ninth-most nationally) and yet are fairly accurate with their looks, canning the bean at a 31.48 percent clip (13th-best in the country). This is simply a team that overwhelms you with offense -- primarily due to the presence of Baum -- and the end result is a super-efficient offensive unit (Colgate is ranked 10th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency at 35.30 goals per 100 offensive possessions) that crushes its opponents into a pulp. Throw in the fact that this team plays about three more offensive possessions per game than defensive possessions and you start to understand why and how Colgate is getting the job done.
  • With all that is written and said about the Raiders' offense, though, Colgate's defense is kind of interesting to write about. The adjusted defensive efficiency is about where you'd like to see it for a league title contender, but there are two layers underneath it that are worth noting: (1) The Raiders aren't getting caught watching the bean, which is evidenced through their incredibly low defensive assist rate (assists allowed per 100 defensive possessions); and (2) The Raiders are willing to get after their opponents and affirmatively end defensive possessions (as evidenced by the team's high caused turnover rate and effectiveness on the ride). I like that kind of combination in production: it's aggressively potent in that Colgate is willing to risk a bit of defensive exposure because if the possession becomes settled they have a sense of the situation as they aren't going to let the entirety of the opposing offense beat them (basically, when the defense gets beat, it's one-on-one through heroic individual effort). Now, the ugly side to this "aggressive potency" is that it exists in two contexts: (1) Jared Madison has struggled this season at making stops between the pipes (he only holds a 48.6 save percentage on the year); and (2) Connected to Madison's struggles, although existing independent of that as well, the Raiders' opponents are shooting at a raw 30.77 percent clip (47th-nationally)). As long as the Raiders can rely on their workhorse offense to overwhelm opponents and Rob Grabher to help tilt the possession percentage, these if-the-opponent-actually-gets-to-shoot-we're-screwed woes aren't deadly problems. (Although, it should be noted that this is still a huge issue. It is tempered, however, by the fact that only one team -- Ohio State -- sees less shots per defensive possession than the Raiders. Of course, opponents need less shots to can the bean against Colgate each time they have the ball because the Raiders' opponents shoot at such a high rate. For Colgate, though, their efficiency value shows that there are a lot more empty opponent offensive possessions than ones that yield either a shot or a shot-score.) Luckily, the Raiders haven't exacerbated this issue this season by taking stupid penalties and playing in defensive personnel imbalances (only six teams play man-down less than the Colgate).

For more on Colgate's opponent -- Bucknell -- check out the Bisons' profile here.