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Eulogizing the 2014 College Lacrosse Season: Providence

Friartown experienced an economic downturn in 2014.


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.


2014 Record 4-11 (1-5, Big East) N/A
2014 Winning Percentage 26.67% 58
2013 Record 8-8 (1-5, Big East) N/A
2013 Winning Percentage 50.00% 28
2014 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 36.60% 50
2013 Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 42.28% 38
Value Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -5.68% 47*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation -12* 56*
2014 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 25.17 58
2013 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 30.45 28
Value Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -5.28 61*
National Rank Change in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency -29* 61*
2014 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 27.89 15
2013 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 32.15 42
Value Change in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency +4.26 5*
National Rank Change in Defensive Efficiency +27* 1*
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.


Chris Gabrielli's second season in Friartown wasn't quite as successful as his first go, but there were moments this past spring where Providence showed its potential and hints of quality that were otherwise muted in a 4-11 campaign. Two performances in 2014 especially stand out: The team's 14-11 victory over Fairfield in Connecticut in early March and the Friars' 11-10 double overtime triumph against Villanova in Philadelphia to end the season. LaxPower ranks those upsets as the fourth and seventh, respectively, most unexpected results of the season (LaxPower's system expected Providence to lose to the Stags by around five goals and anticipated about a four-goal loss for the Friars against the Wildcats). A log5 analysis comports to LaxPower's assertions that Providence snapped and went on a sociopathic rampage against both teams despite a medical report that indicated that the Friars were barely breathing:

at Fairfield 14-11 (W) 21.28%
at Villanova 11-10 (2OT) (W) 33.42%

Andrew Barton and Sean Wright -- the Friars' two behemoth offensive weapons -- were the kind of cogs that Providence needed to pull both upsets. Against Fairfield, the two savants combined for nine points while shooting 41.67 percent as a duo; against Villanova, Wright and Barton combined for seven points while shooting 45.45 percent as a duo. It was the kind of offensive performance from the team's most important offensive players that helped drop two solid opponents, generating offense at a rate -- the Friars scored on over 42 percent of their offensive opportunities against the Stags and on over a quarter of their offensive possessions against the Wildcats -- that seemed to elude the program all season. In function, these wins were significantly impressive not only because of the quality of the opponent that Providence smacked in the face, but also because the Friars showed purpose in spots where the team could have simply driven their bus directly into a lake without properly signaling or purchasing life vests for the team's non-amphibious passenger vehicle.


The universe can be a raging bitch. The way reality auto-corrects itself can be a major downer, especially when it directly follows the issuance of unexpected good fortune. The Friars were a victim of that in 2014 (although Providence holds some responsibility for things turning away from the Friars this past season), and the results were as heinous as possible: In 2013, Providence went 4-1 against opponents in which the Friars were in a toss-up game or just on the fringe of being in a toss-up game; in 2014, the team went 1-3 against similar competition. The detail here is the perfect illustration of the universe demanding retribution:

Sacred Heart 12-10 (W) 51.56% at Vermont 8-6 (W) 49.64%
at Quinnipiac 13-12 (W) 52.20% at Sacred Heart 10-11 (L) 51.10%
at Georgetown 8-16 (L) 51.16% at Georgetown 8-10 (L) 55.41%
at Rutgers 10-9 (OT) (W) 53.32% at Marquette 6-7 (L) 44.00%
at Holy Cross 12-11 (W) 55.03%

It's odd that only one of these games was a home game, right? Weird, man. I'm freaking out over here. I can feel colors, dude.

That's part of the reason that the Friars weren't able to replicate the team's crazy effort in its 2013 campaign: Providence was softer in its toss-up games -- and games just on the fringe of true toss-up scenarios -- this past season. A ball here or a ball there and Providence's record in 2014 potentially looks similar to its actual winning percentage from 2013 (this despite the fact that the Friars' overall strength regressed between the two seasons (which is part of the puzzle in determining why Providence was stronger in toss-up games in 2013 compared to 2014)). This is exactly why records -- when viewed on their face -- can be misleading: Bill Parcells laid a big, stinking turd of a lie when he so boldly stated that "You are what your record says you are."

That's nonsense. Providence was one of the most overachieving teams of 2013 and was one of the most underachieving teams of 2014. Part of that is due to how the Friars performed against square competition. Providence wasn't a pure .500 team in 2013 and was more than a 4-11 team in 2014. The team's performance against similarly-situated competition was a driver in that analysis, and the universe correcting reality had an impact on that position.


This is where things start to get interesting for Providence. The Big East looks like it could have some juice in 2015: Denver is likely going to open the season ranked somewhere in the top three nationally (if not holding the pole position); Marquette looks like a massive pain in the ass in the league, a program that has exploded out of the gates with Joe Amplo piloting his death machine toward the unknowns of the universe; Brian Brecht finally looks like he has the Scarlet Knights in a decent position; Villanova is Villanova and seems to contend each season in the league; and St. John's and Georgetown, despite their anticipated functions next spring, are still concerns that are viable. Combined with the fact that the Friars lose nine seniors that played in at least 13 games last season (61 starts in 2014 come from that group) and Providence is staring down a reality where transitioning to a great new wonderful could involve assuming some bruises.

That's okay. Developing something sustainable takes time. The focus for Gabrielli Renovation & Contracting, Ltd. isn't to turn the Friars into the Big East's dominant program in Year Three; it's establishing a foundation for Providence to start to excel in forward periods. Finding success in Division I lacrosse doesn't involve changing the order that various switches are turned on and off; rather, it's a complicated process that involves time dedicated to evolution. The Friars are still in the early stages of establishing momentum within the program.