You spent the better part of four months meticulously dissecting the 2013 college lacrosse season. You shouldn't stop now because cold turkey is a bad way to go through life, man. College Crosse is providing decompression snapshots of all 63 teams and their 2013 campaigns, mostly because everything needs a proper burial.
I. VITAL SIGNS
Team: Marquette Golden Eagles
2013 Record: 5-8 (Independent)
2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): -0.46 (33)
2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): N/A
Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +100% (sort of)
2013 Efficiency Margin: -10.05 (54)
Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: N/A
II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT
- For a first year program, I'm not sure that Marquette could have had a better go than the somewhat mind-bending effort that the team put forth: The team arguably overachieved by about a win this season (the team's Pythagorean win expectation was just south of 28 percent); the Golden Eagles performed fairly well in metrics that often swallow new and struggling teams -- clearing (87.45 percent, 23rd nationally), turnovers per 100 offensive opportunities (48.42, 47th nationally) (although the team's unforced turnover rate was kind of vomit-inducing), run-of-play groundball margin (18th in the country at almost three more than their opponents), and raw offensive shooting rate (29.64 percent, 19th nationally); Marquette came out and pantsed two pretty good teams (Air Force (in just Marquette's second game) and Bellarmine (which pretty much ended the Knights' hopes for an at-large NCAA Tournament invitation)) and made some other opponents (like Georgetown, for example) work to dispatch the Eagles; and the team was able to get on and off the bus with a roster featuring 21 true freshman, 12 redshirt freshman, five redshirt sophomores, one junior, and five redshirt juniors. That should earn the Golden Eagles all the trips to Golden Corral's chocolate fountain -- a clean one at that! -- that they desire. Joe Amplo and his staff did a tremendous job this season readying and motivating a team that could have collapsed after some tough results; the foundation that was laid in 2013 should serve Marquette well down the line, especially if talent like Conor Gately continues to flock to Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles still have a way to go before they're ready to really lock horns with the Big East's more established programs (Denver, St. John's, Georgetown, and Villanova), but Marquette is in a position to accelerate its growth if the team comes into 2014 with a similar profile as to what was put in place in 2013.
III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT
- Marquette, despite all that was surprising and hopeful about the team last season, was still among the 10 or so weaker teams in the nation. There's nothing wrong with that; there's no such thing as winning the lacrosse sperm lottery and starting at the top. When you look at the Golden Eagles statistical performance values, one thing sticks out as especially terrifying: Marquette just wasn't a particularly good defensive team. The Golden Eagles ranked 57th in adjusted defensive efficiency, were ripped to shreds by opposing offenses (opponents shot 34.16 percent against Marquette (the worst mark in the nation)), the defense yielded assisted goals all over the place (21.65 per 100 defensive opportunities, a mark that ranked 55th in the nation), the team's save percentage (44.48 percent) ranked just 61st nationally, and opponents rarely turned the ball over against Marquette (the Eagles' opponent turnover rate ranked just 45th nationally at 42.41 giveaways per 100 defensive opportunities). It probably isn't fair to drill deeper into the wider scope of Marquette's defensive issues (this was a first-year program after all); the Golden Eagles may look much different on the defensive end of the field in 2014. Offensive teams like Ohio State, Denver, St. John's, and Duke are difficult for any team to deal with; Marquette faced all of them in the program's first season. The defensive results for the Golden Eagles were going to be ugly in any circumstance.
IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .
- Unless Marquette can earn five years worth of experience simply through osmosis during the offseason, the Golden Eagles are still likely focused on doing the rudimentary aspects of establishing a Division I program: building a culture, developing chemistry, growing a dedication to out-working every other program in the nation, and maturing from a talent standpoint. When those things come together, the delineated issues start to focus. Amplo and Company are still building the program's foundation; there are no short cuts to performance enhancement. It's a process in Milwaukee, and the entirety of the team's pursuit needs refinement.