clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Albany

There was no way that the Great Danes couldn't put a smile on your face last season.

You spent the better part of four months meticulously dissecting the 2014 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 67 teams and their 2014 campaigns, mostly because everything needs a proper burial.

VITAL SIGNS

ALBANY GREAT DANES
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 12-6 (5-0, America East) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 66.67% 15
2013 Record 13-5 (5-0, America East) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 72.22% 9
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 76.10% 7
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 67.23% 17
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +8.86% 15*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +10* 11*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 41.19 2
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 37.91 7
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +3.28 20*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +5* 25*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 27.76 13
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 31.81 36
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency +4.05 7*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency +23* 4*
Downloadable Team Profile (.pdf)

*These ranking values consider only the programs that competed in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Accordingly, Boston University, Furman, Monmouth, and Richmond are not considered.

"ATTA BOY!" FACT

Everyone needs to throw a couple of bucks into the kitty so that we can we can buy Scott Marr and the entire Albany lacrosse program a really nice gift from Edible Arrangements. The Great Danes were -- virtually without peer -- the most fun team in the nation in 2014. This position isn't just subjective: Based on the Fun Factor scale -- a metric that attempts to rank the watchability of teams based on various underlying considerations like tempo, competitiveness, and the ability to make the scoreboard blink in maniacal ways -- Albany ranked first in the nation, putting up a ridiculous value that stomped the rest of Division I lacrosse:

DO YOUR THING
TEAM FUN FACTOR FUN FACTOR RANK
Albany 8.22 1
Duke 6.52 2
Denver 6.38 3
North Carolina 6.00 4
Syracuse 5.83 5

When you think about Albany's 2014 season rightthisverysecond, do you care that the Great Danes crashed out of the NCAA Tournament in the quarterfinals? Probably not. What you remember is Albany's style, the way the Danes seemed content to accelerate reality regardless of the situation that was presented to them. Albany was a beautiful anarchist that altered the way that you consumed the game; it didn't matter whether you had a rooting interest in the Great Danes' competition dates, but you sure as hell wanted to try and experience what Albany was putting on display each and every gameday.

Just look at the Danes' underlying metrics that build into the team's Fun Factor value: Albany was first nationally in possessions per 60 minutes of play at 74.44 (a solid 10 possessions greater than the national average); Albany's adjusted Pythagorean win expectation ranked seventh nationally, a rate that actually exceeded the team's final winning percentage; and the team's offense berated opposing goaltenders to the tune of a 37.81 raw shooting percentage (tops in the country) and an opponent save percentage of just 39.58 percent (first nationally). Albany was what everyone hopes college lacrosse can be. It was freedom and execution, the perfect recipe for must-watch lacrosse.

The lore of Albany's 2014 season is greater than the team's final resting position as a non-Championship Weekend participant. This was, in so many ways, a perfect team for a game that desperately wants to more teams like the Great Danes.

"YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT

After brutalizing Penn State on the Nittany Lions' home field -- a 17-10 victory for the Great Danes -- Albany looked like a team that wouldn't meet another significant challenge until the team traveled to Homewood Field to face Johns Hopkins in early April. Canisius -- Albany's I-90 neighbor to the west -- had other plans when it shot over to New York's Capital District to face the Great Danes. What was expected to be a rout for Albany turned into one of Division I's biggest upsets of the year:

". . . AND THAT'S WHEN I KNEW I WAS NEVER ALLOWED IN AN ARBY'S AGAIN."
OPPONENT RESULT LAXPOWER PRED. GOAL DIFF. MASSEY WIN PROBABILITY LOG5 LAXPOWER UPSET RANK MASSEY UPSET RANK LOG5 UPSET RANK
Canisius 10-14 (L) +7 94% 82.09% 2 2 4

There is a lethal level of "Oof!" in that table. Upsets happen -- no doink! -- but Albany was a massive favorite against the Griffs. This result was part of the reason that the Great Danes were one of the most underachieving teams in the nation in the context of differential between expected winning percentage and actual winning percentage, and there's something inherently important in this conceptual understanding of what Canisius' upset meant in the context of Albany's overall season. The Great Danes never led the Golden Griffins, a game in which Albany was expected to set off a nuclear explosion on Canisius' face. That's almost unbelievable until you realize that crazy brain worms do their best work on midweek games.

Albany was a beautiful snowflake last season, but there is little that mitigates the flamethrower it fell into against the Griffs.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

Albany isn't losing just Miles and Ty Thompson going into 2015. Based on the team's 2014 roster, Albany will lose about 57 percent of its starts from last season, a sizeable chunk of contributors that includes three of the team's top four point generators from a season ago (those cats accounting for about 44 percent of the team's total points in 2014), two starting defensemen from the team's final date against Notre Dame, and the team's primary long-stick midfielder. This isn't a situation where the break-up of the Thompson Trio is the sole cause for concern; Marr has some other personnel situations to address. The Great Danes should have a high ceiling again in 2015, but there is a notable level of transition taking place on the roster.