The Independence Classic invades not-quite-Philadelphia this weekend to provide lacrosse tripleheader excitement to the masses. The games face-off at noon on Saturday and ESPN3/WatchESPN is the only outlet on Earth -- extraterrestrial rights are held by a company pronounced "UMM [clicking sound]," but the name of that company is written in characters that regular humans cannot understand -- that will broadcast the slate. It's the marquee event of the weekend, and as such, some College Crosse-style profiles are necessary to get your face set for melting.
Spirit Animal: Jack Russell Terrier
.pdf of Tempo-Free Profile: Here
Four Names to Know: Tim Schwalje (A); Brian Feeney (G); Maxx Meyer (D); Isaac Bock (A)
Two Things From My Genius Brain to Your Face:
- I don't know just how legitimate Pennsylvania is right now. The Quakers caught Duke and Lehigh at optimal times to gut out some wins, and the trip out to Denver wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Regardless, Pennsylvania is showing well in some important metrics: The defense has held strong, currently holding an adjusted defensive efficiency value that ranks 17th in the nation; the offense, while not putting up huge goal totals on a consistent basis, is currently ranked 24th in adjusted offensive efficiency (when the Quakers get the bean into the attack box, their offensive efficiency rises to a level that ranks Penn 18th in the country); the Quakers are out-working their opponents on loose balls in the run of play, pulling in about six more groundballs per 100 possessions than their opponents (the 13th-best mark in the nation); and they're getting very strong play between the pipes, holding a team save percentage of 58.23 (13th in Division I) and seeing about 39 percent of their defensive possessions killed with a save (14th in the country). While quiet, those are solid things that may indicate that Pennsylvania is ready to take a step forward this season under Mike Murphy despite lingering early-season questions.
- The combination of two things makes me wonder whether Pennsylvania is a heavy favorite on Saturday: (1) Opponents are creating turnovers at the Quakers' expense at a fairly high rate (Pennsylvania ranks 48th in opponent caused turnovers per 100 offensive opportunities) and Villanova is a bunch of burglars in pads and helmets (the Wildcats rank fifth in caused turnovers per 100 defensive opportunities); and (2) Pennsylvania hasn't been exceptional this season at creating possession margin (the Quakers only get about half of a possession more than their opponents, a mark that ranks 26th in the country) while Villanova is getting about three-and-a-half more possessions than their opponents (the 14th best mark in the land, thanks in significant part to Tom Croonquist's efforts on the draw). The short of the long is this: If Villanova is dominating possessions and then ripping the bean from Pennsylvania when the Quakers actually get the ball, Pennsylvania is going to need to be ultra-efficient at both ends of the field to either keep pace or create space. That's a dangerous situation to play in.
For more on Pennsylvania's opponent this weekend -- Villanova -- check out the Wildcats' profile here.