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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Manhattan

The Jaspers finished 2014 with a 5-10 record and went 3-3 in the MAAC.

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

MANHATTAN JASPERS
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 5-10 (3-3, MAAC) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 33.33% 52
2013 Record 4-11 (1-5, MAAC) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 26.67% 53
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 21.62% 61
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 21.63% 57
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -0.01% 33*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -2* 33*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 24.20 60
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 27.06 49
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -2.86 53*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -9* 47*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 32.72 41
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 35.48 55
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency +2.77 13*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency +15* 10*
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

Manhattan -- while winning only a third of their games in 2014 -- kind of lived the dream last spring: Expected to win only around 22 percent of their games last season based on performance on the field, the Jaspers overachieved to the tune of two wins. That overachievement -- holding an actual winning percentage more than 11 percent higher than expected -- ranked sixth nationally, a significant deviation from what may have been Manhattan's reality. The two unexpected wins are easy to identify: Conference victories against Detroit and Marist served as the vehicles to which the Jaspers created their extra set of wins.

THE RIVERDALE COUNCIL FOR OVERACHIEVEMENT AND SMART DRESSING
OPPONENT RESULT LOG5
Marist 14-13 (W) 25.87%
Detroit 6-5 (W) 32.55%

These upsets were notable: LaxPower currently ranks the Jaspers' defeat of the Red Foxes as the 16th most notable upset of the season (expecting Manhattan to be a three-goal underdog) while the team's win over the Titans required Manhattan to erase a one-goal deficit over the game's final 18:18 of play, holding the Titans scoreless in the stretch. These weren't exceptional teams that the Jaspers beat, but they were teams that Manhattan faced as an underdog and overcome adversity to ultimately prevail. The Jaspers, in many ways, appeared stuck in static animation between 2013 and 2014, but the team's two big upsets gave the program some juice and a better-than-expected final record.

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

Manhattan's clearing game was a tire fire burning for 1,000 years. No team maintained a worse clearing percentage than the Jaspers -- 73.02 percent -- and the team's inability to efficiently turn defensive stops into functional offensive opportunities allowed to gestate in the attack box created and exacerbated a host of connected issues. For example:

  • Manhattan's opponents almost had as many faceoff wins (197) as the Jaspers had offensive opportunities through successful clears (203). Given the high percentage of faceoff wins that turn into functional offensive opportunities in the attack box, Manhattan exacerbated a faceoff issue -- the Jaspers drew at 37.85 percent in 2014, 63rd nationally -- through a clearing game that mirrored a descent through Dante's circles of Hell.
  • Building off the last point: Manhattan earned 65.11 percent of their offensive opportunities from clearing opportunities, a mark that ranked second nationally. The Jaspers were basically relying on the creation of defensive stops that turned into clears to actually possess the ball with a chance to score, yet the team threw 75 of those opportunities into the nothingness of the atmosphere. Manhattan's offense desperately needed those clearing opportunities to matriculate to the attack box as the Jaspers' offense relied heavily on possession volume to score -- Manhattan ranked just 60th in adjusted offensive efficiency, scoring on just under a quarter of their offensive possessions. Those 75 blown clears, based on the team's adjusted offensive efficiency value, robbed the Jaspers of an estimated 18 -- !!!!!!!!! -- goals this season.
  • Manhattan's failed clears also impacted the team's defense: No team in the nation had a higher percentage of defensive opportunities earned from blown clearing attempts as the Jaspers (14.62 percent). This exacerbated Manhattan's possession deficit situation -- the team played at a 5.68 possession disadvantage per 60 minutes of play in 2014 -- and allowed opponents extra cracks at slipping the ball past Rich Akapnitis.

Clearing matters, and the Jaspers ruined a lot of their universe this past season with the worst clearing game in the nation.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

Steve Manitta was able to kind of hold the line in 2014, not deviating much from the team's performance in 2013 (his first year in The Bronx). He was able to guide the Jaspers to two unexpected wins while shepherding a defense that took some important strides this past spring (the team's offense, however, took a step back). The focus for the Jaspers at this point is pivoting toward raising the level of growth and development on the field. These don't need to be drastic gains, but Manhattan has to find some kind of groove to work within. There's a study kicking around that marks the Jaspers as the 61st -- out of 69 -- strongest Division I program over the last 10 years with Manhattan ranked as the 62nd -- out of 67 -- strongest Division I program over the last three seasons. The Jaspers need talent -- the team put three players on two of the MAAC's year-end recognition teams (two players earned All-Rookie Team honors) -- but more importantly, that talent needs to develop. There is a lot of work to be done in Riverdale.