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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Hartford

The Heartbeat just missed out on the America East Tournament last spring.

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

HARTFORD HAWKS
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 6-9 (1-4, America East) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 40.00% 43
2013 Record 7-7 (3-2, America East) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 50.00% 28
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 42.54% 43
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 39.67% 43
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation +2.87% 26*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 0* 29*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 29.09 47
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 29.26 41
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -0.17 40*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -6* 44*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 32.18 38
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 31.41 35
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency -0.77 30*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency -2* 35*
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

This is the positive of the little things: Hartford forced opponents into committing a lot of turnovers and those opponents, simultaneously, were prodigious at giving the ball away. Considering how well the Hawks' opponents shot against Hartford last spring (and some of the unevenness that the Hawks experienced in the cage), these turnovers were a factor in Hartford holding a fairly decent adjusted defensive efficiency value against an average slate of opposing offenses faced. Here's the team's defensive turnover profile:

TOAST YOUR BUNS
METRIC VALUE N'TL RANK
Opponent Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities 52.09 5
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities 24.90 16
Unforced Opponent Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities 27.20 7
Turnover Margin +5.73 15
Estimated Lost Functional Defensive Opportunities Ratio 48.65% 3

Doing some dirty math based on (1) Hartford's adjusted defensive efficiency value, and (2) the estimated number of defensive opportunities that the Hawks played per 60 minutes of play last season, the turnovers that Hartford's opponents committed last spring took about five goals off the board per game. That's nuts. Looking at that estimation another way: The Hawks played around 31 defensive opportunities per 60 minutes of play with almost half of those opportunities resulting in a turnover; yielding almost a third of a game per defensive opportunity, the Hawks skirted about five buckets per 60 minutes of play due to their opponents pitching the bean away.

Then, of course, is the team's turnover margin, which gave the Hawks an estimated three-and-a-half goal margin based on the team's adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency values. Turnovers matter, but they matter in different ways to different teams. For the Hawks, the rate at which its opponents lost the ball -- partly due to the fact that Hartford went and got the bean while in defensive postures -- meant important things to the team that directly or indirectly impacted the scoreboard. The Hawks weren't an elite defense, and the rate at with opponents lost the ball while attacking that defense was a significant factor in Hartford's ability to mute their defensive situation. It's easy to look at the fact that the Hawks played 10 games in which their opponents scored at least 10 goals (while playing at a relatively low pace), but that ignores some of the unique aspects to what Hartford's defense experienced in 2014.

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

This is the negative of the little things: Hartford had a hard time keeping their hands to themselves in 2014. This, in a vacuum isn't a totally miserable thing, but its application for the Hawks was troublesome last spring: In the team's two one-goal losses (to Siena and Binghamton), Hartford's proclivity for committing penalties ultimately impacted the team's volition to earn a win. Mitigating circumstances that are conducive to self-inflicted-nuclear-explosion-wounds is important, and Hartford struggled a little bit in that area last year relvative to the Hawks' desire to break the law.

YOU CAN'T DO THAT
METRIC VALUE N'TL RANK
Penalties per 100 Opportunities 6.88 62
Man-Down Postures per 100 Defensive Opportunities 13.81 62
Man-Down Posture Conversion Rate 34.85% 33
Man-Down Posture Reliance 14.74% 54

While Hartford was fairly capable at killing man-down situations, the Hawks were -- volume-wise -- in man-down postures at a high rate and opponents relied on those circumstances -- to a fairly high degree -- to make the scoreboard blink against the Heartbeat. That's icky, and as noted above, it came into full miserable focus against the Saints and Bearcats in 2014:

AWWWWW . . . GODDAMMIT
OPPONENT OPPONENT EXTRA-MAN OPPS. RESULT
Siena 2-7 (28.57%) 10-11 (4OT) (L)
Binghamton 2-5 (40.00%) 10-11 (L)

If you provide opportunity after opportunity that creates preferable scoring situations, you're eventually going to suffer the consequences. The Hawks obviously felt that against both Siena and Binghamton, burning themselves in two spots where Hartford could have managed different results had the team limited the amout of "BOOM!" it tried to impose on their opponents.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

The Hawks lose a big chunk of seniors going into 2015 (13, if you're into exactitude). That's a large number of leaders that have guided the Hawks through the America East the last few seasons, a period in which the landscape of the conference has changed in unique ways. But despite the raw numbers loss, the Hawks will endure a situation where 41 percent of their starts from last season are attributable to now-graduated seniors. That's not great, but it is managable (even if nine of the team's former seniors participated in all 15 of the team's games in 2014 (and many of those seniors were notable offensive contributors)).

Hartford can pivot from its roster losses, it's just a matter of whether the Hawks have enough depth to transition well into the early portion of the team's 2015 schedule. This isn't an easy situation for Hartford, but an early season slate that promotes the possibility of establishing role development could set the program up well for returning to the America East Tournament next spring.