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THUNDERDOME! Lacrosse Tournament Participant Profile: Penn State

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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 THUNDERDOME! Tournament.

Penn State-Drexel may the toughest thing you'll watch all week, assuming that you don't get stuck watching Notting Hill on Netflix. These are two of the more defensively-oriented teams forced to lock up this week in postseason play and there is very little offense kicking around to satisfy your carnivorous needs. Just accept this, people: At any moment during play, a grizzly bear with an accordion could walk out on the field and rip the sweetest version of "Tiger Rag" you've ever heard. So that's something.

Anyway, here's the heat on Penn State.

Penn State Nittany Lions: Two-Seed

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

Record 9-5 (5-1) Clear % 84.40% (26)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 28.93 (37) Opp. Clear % 79.07% (3)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 24.69 (9) Faceoff % 51.09% (27)
Poss. Percentage 50.74% (22) Pace 61.76 (50)
Off. Poss./60 min. 31.34 (45)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 30.42 (11)
Save Percentage 59.2%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.37 (13) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 24.44% (8) Goal Differential +11
Opp. Effective Sht. % 25.00% (8) Shooting % 24.84% (56)
Def. Assist Rate 16.67 (31) Effective Sht. % 25.33% (57)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.10 (26) Assist Rate 12.81 (55)
Man-Down Conversion % 34.88% (34) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.10 (35)
Man-Down Reliance 0.14 (46) EMO Conversion % 31.11% (43)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.26 (13) EMO Reliance 0.12 (36)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.43 (14)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.39 (58)

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

  • Austin Kaut is the blonde satan and there's a reason for that: He isn't necessarily the bad guy that makes your life a living hell, but he's definitely overseeing the entire operation and everyone is at his command. Kaut has been a horned stud this season, stopping 59.5 percent of the shots he's been asked to turn away and putting the final nail in defensive possessions at a rate that only 12 teams can exceed. With the help of his defense (which has limited assisted scoring opportunities at a decent rate this season), Kaut and Penn State have forced opponents into shooting only 25.00 percent on the year (a mark beaten by only seven clubs). (As an aside, Penn State's THUNDERDOME! semifinal opponent -- Drexel -- only holds a 24.66 percent offensive shooting rate. So, yeah. Have fun, Dragons!) Jeff Tambroni knows that he needs to rely on this unit to win the Nittany Lions games and they have done so all over the place. This is legitimately one of the ten-best defensive teams in the country and Kaut is a huge piece of the puzzle.
  • Now, with respect to that defense out in front of Kaut: The value of the unit isn't so much in controlling the chaos that can create preferential scoring opportunities (as evidenced by the defensive assist rate), it's that it is a hammer on the ride and has done a nice job creating turnovers to insulate Kaut. Only two teams have seen better results on their ride and only 12 teams have generated more turnovers this season than the Nittany Lions. When Penn State's opponents are limited from even maximizing an offensive possession and are are also thwarted at getting anything past Kaut, the Fightin' Tambronis become one of the most frustrating outfits to face in the country. It's not surprising, therefore, that opponents are relying fairly heavily on the personnel imbalance to score against Penn State -- it's the only time that Penn State's strategic approach isn't allowed to flourish.
  • As good as Penn State's defense has been this season, its offense has been inversely poor. The Nittany Lions' offensive profile is eerily similar to that of Drexel -- Plug! Plug! Plug! You can view Drexel's profile by clicking the link below! -- and . . . that's not something that you want to write to your mother about. Jack Forster, Matt Mackrides, and Shane Sturgis are solid offensive talents, but only two are breaking the 30 percent shooting mark (Mackrides is at 31.8 percent on the year; Sturgis is coming in at 31.5 percent). No other major cog to this offense is approaching that threshold and when you combine it with Penn State's inability to find cats in preferential shooting positions (the team's offensive assist rate is so far toward the bottom of the country that it's catching some heavy breaths from Wagner), the Nittany Lions are rolling with one of the most difficult offenses in the country to watch. It's a lot of individual effort and relentless bombing at the cage with limited results that often requires Penn State to actually get points on the board by relying on the personnel imbalance (which doesn't happen more often than the national average).

For more on Penn State's opponent -- Drexel -- check out the Dragons' profile here.