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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Jacksonville

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It wasn't as easy as many thought it would be for the Dolphins in the Atlantic Sun.

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

JACKSONVILLE DOLPHINS
METRIC VALUE NATIONAL RANK
2014 Record 4-9 (3-2, Atlantic Sun) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 30.77% 55
2013 Record 8-5 (5-1, MAAC) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 61.54% 19
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 35.86% 52
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 39.35% 44
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -3.50% 43*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -8* 47*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 31.42 31
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 28.56 42
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +2.86 26*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency +11* 14*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 34.39 53
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 32.38 43
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency -2.01 45*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency -8* 46*
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

The Dolphins' offense shot the bean pretty well in 2014. Granted, part of Jacksonville's schedule came against programs that failed to have the capacity to wrestle Godzilla in a metropolis, but the Dolphins still did a decent job at embarrassing opposing goalkeepers against a schedule ranked 42nd nationally in opposing defenses faced. Considering the fact that Jacksonville didn't put a single player on any of the Atlantic Sun's postseason all-league teams this past spring, the team's effort at blowing the ball past fools in the crease was strong. It takes some skill -- regardless of the competition -- to pick corners and find efficiency in shooting, especially when there isn't a heavy reliance on sharing the ball and taking attempts from highly-preferable shooting locations. The Dolphins were able to accomplish that last spring:

TARGET HOT!
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 31.42 31
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.02 57
Shots on Goal per Offensive Opportunity 0.58 60
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Opportunity 56.61% 50
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 30.92% 13
Raw Offensive Shots on Goal Shooting Rate 54.63% 6
Opponent Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 26.28 1
Opponent Save Percentage 45.37% 6

The team's top five players in terms of shot usage -- Tom Moore, Rob Moore, Dakota Rohlin, David Goldman, and Duncan Clancy -- accounted for almost 67 percent of the Dolphins' shots and almost the same percentage of Jacksonville's total goals; in terms of efficiency within that group, those five cats shot almost 31 percent as a group and held a raw shots on goal shooting percentage of almost 57 percent. These five players were the combustion engine for Jacksonville's ability to make keepers cry last season, outpacing the rest of the team in terms of utilization and the value of that utilization. Special significance is given to Tom Moore's effort in 2014: Only a sophomore, Moore led the team in total shots while shooting 40.30 percent (!!!!) on a raw basis (his raw shots on goal shooting rate was a powerful 61.36 percent).

There's some "Yeah, but . . ." inherent in some of these values and individual performances, but that doesn't take all of the shine off of what the Dolphins were able to do in terms of shooting acumen last season. Picking your spots to bomb and finding twine is something that a lot of programs struggle with, yet it was something that Jacksonville found strength in despite meandering to a somewhat disappointing 4-9 record.

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

Defenses that struggle to generate stops aren't built to survive difficult circumstances. Jacksonville didn't much care for that theory in 2014, exposing an inefficient defense forced to play an incredible number of defensive possessions per 60 minutes of play -- only 10 teams played in a bigger possession deficit per 60 minutes of play and/or more defensive opportunities per 60 minutes of play than the Dolphins -- to a volume of man-down postures that only attempted to ruin something that wasn't operating all that well to begin with.

[SLOWLY SHAKES HEAD]
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
Man-Down Postures per 100 Defensive Opportunities 14.95 64
Extra-Man/Man-Down Postures Margin -1.93 55
Man-Down Posture Reliance 20.26% 67
Man-Down Posture Conversion Rate 45.59% 61
Team Penalties per 100 Opportunities 8.74 67
Penalties Margin -2.83 66

This is not how you win the day. This is how the day rains mud all around you while you dodge oddly accurate lightning bolts from above. Not only did Jacksonville force an inefficient defense into trying to kill a high volume of man-down postures, but (1) Jacksonville's defense was horrendous in man-down postures, and (2) Jacksonville's opponents relied on these postures to the highest degree in the nation to make the scoreboard blink against the Dolphins. That's like three layers of miserable things happening. It's a terrible burrito of unending misery.

It's okay to have things executed at a degree that is below the highest level possible (it happens, and some of it is attributable to talent limitations), but aggravating an already difficult issue with manageable activity is the stuff of angry legend.

THE DISTANT FUTURE

It doesn't take much to generate momentum in what will become the Southern Conference. That's really the focus for the Dolphins in 2015: Asserting itself in a manageable league and building momentum toward that portion of the schedule with a nonconference slate that builds volition. There's a comfort around Jacksonville as an established Division I entity, but the Dolphins have existed on this level since only the 2010 season. That's a mere five seasons of play at college lacrosse's highest level. Jacksonville is still defining what it is as a lacrosse concern, and the team's win-loss record isn't as pressing as the way that the Dolphins play. The Southern Conference allows Jacksonville to pursue whatever future it wants, and when the focus remains on that portion of the schedule, things begin to focus for the Dolphins down the line.