The 2014 season is months away. Let's punch fate in the face and make wild assumptions about what could be the best 20 teams in the country next year.
Important People: Scott McWilliams (D); Mark Cockerton (A); Rob Emery (M); Ryan Tucker (M); James Pannell (A); Tanner Scales (D); Chris LaPierre (SSDM)
Formerly Important People: Harry Prevas (D); Nick O'Reilly (A); Matt White (A/M); Charlie Streep (M)
Final 2013 Poll Positions: Media: ARV; Coaches: ARV
2013 Record: 7-8 (0-3, ACC)
2013 Snapshot: Kaboom!
* * * * *
I'm just going to leave this here and back away slowly:
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||27.50||59|
|Team Save Percentage||48.03%||53|
|Shots per Defensive Opportunity||0.95||7|
|Raw Defensive Shooting Rate||31.23%||55|
|Defensive Assist Rate||16.76||30|
|Adjusted Defensive Efficiency||27.65||17|
|Strength of Schedule: Opposing Offenses Faced||33.10||1|
A Thousand White Doves
Virginia wasn't that far away in 2013. The prevailing opinion about the Cavaliers last season alternated between "stunk" and "really stunk," but the Virginia -- despite their troubles in finishing games -- was a top 20-type team at the end of last season. This isn't a bucket of nonsense: Virginia was better than 7-8 and the only reason that the team wasn't is because the Cavs had a special way of aiming a bazooka at their foot and pulling the trigger without regard for any consequences. If Virginia can build upon their positives in 2014 -- and there's little reason to believe that Dom Starsia is incapable of doing so -- there is a disgusting level of talent returning to Charlottesville to push the 'Hoos back toward their traditional position in the college lacrosse hierarchy:
- The field defense is ridiculously deep and talented. Whatever problems that the Cavaliers may have in the crease is mitigated a bit by what Virginia is going to put on the field in support: Greg Danseglio, Scales, Tanner Ottenbreit, LaPierre, McWilliams, Joe Lisicky (who was an animal at Lynchburg), Bobby Hill -- this field defense is as skill-refined as any in the nation. There's depth, experience, and options here, and it could drive the Cavaliers throughout the season.
- It may take Virginia time to define offensive roles and create cohesion, but if it all comes together, set your Virginia Offense Meter to "Mushroom Cloud." Losing O'Reilly and White creates a void, but a potential attack of Cockerton (he has all the shots in the bag and isn't afraid of putting a dozen on the board), Owen Van Arsdale, and Pannell situates all kinds of important pieces in solid roles where the Cavs can stay balanced and dangerous from different points of play. The midfield has weapons in Tucker and Emery, and the potential emergence of Zed Williams could totally change the volition of Virginia's offense. And past these cats are another half-dozen assets that could step in and contribute. Starsia has been stockpiling talent for years; that helps erase year-to-year issues.
- The last time that Virginia had a sub-.500 record? 2004 (5-8). What'd they do in 2005? Went 11-4, entered the NCAA Tournament as the four-seed, and made the national semifinals, falling to the eventual national champions in overtime (a 9-8 loss to Johns Hopkins (the Jays went 16-0 in 2005)). Virginia doesn't struggle for extended periods of time.
The Stars, The Moon, Six Feet Under
The Stars: Slowly develops as a force and enters the NCAA Tournament as a balanced, decisive team with eyes toward Baltimore; goalkeeping!; all that youth dotting the Cavs’ roster takes a step forward and contributes, led by Williams who makes the parents of his opponents scream about fairness and other nonsense that people scream about when they try and live vicariously through their children.
The Moon: Well, other than Starsia wanting to shoot his team there. . . .
Six Feet Under: Team struggles, again, to close in tight games; Williams has difficulty transitioning to Division I lacrosse; the ‘Hoos become the epitome of a team with lots of parts but the engine struggles to work; bubble team to the core.