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2015 College Lacrosse Preview: The New Head Coaches

There are three new faces blowing the big whistle this year.

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

There were three head coaching changes this offseason:

That isn't a lot of turnover -- it's the same number of new head coaches Division I experienced ahead of the 2014 season -- but it's still three new faces -- two of them in new places -- charged with winning lacrosse games and wearing polo shirts with khaki pants. Here's what they're inheriting and what could be best and worst case scenarios for their first campaigns in their new roles:

Brendan Callahan: Dartmouth
Team Profile:

DOSSIER: DARTMOUTH
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
2014 aPyth. Win Exp. % 24.93% 58
4-Yr. aPyth. Win. Exp. Avg. 34.30% 50*
4-Yr. aPyth. Win Exp. Var. 0.0042 25*
2014 W/L % 16.67% 60
4-Yr. W/L % 27.78% 56*

* Ranking based on teams that participated at the Division I level for the last four seasons.

Best Case Scenario:

  • Callahan is able to milk two Ivy League wins from the schedule in 2015, a feat that the Green have not achieved since 2010 when Dartmouth dropped a 12-6 Cornell team and a 5-8 Pennsylvania squad en route to a 5-8 overall record (2010 was the last season in which the Green did not finish last in the conference). The Green claim only five total Ivy League wins over the last five seasons, and bagging two conference kills in Callahan's first season would signal a major shift in recent history for Dartmouth.
  • The young cats that steadied the Green's offense last season -- Jack McCormick, KC Beard, Billy Heidt, and Wiley Osborne -- are able to grow in a way that pulls Dartmouth's offense from the depths of Division I and finish somewhere around the top of the bottom third of the nation. That core of players accounts for at least half of the team's total points and shoots over 30 percent as a group.

Worst Case Scenario:

  • Early losses to Ohio State and Notre Dame spiral and the Green are staring at a 1-8 record prior to meeting NJIT in mid-April.
  • The team's 18 upperclassmen -- the team has four fewer upperclassmen compared to underclassmen -- are not able to exhibit the kind of leadership and experience necessary accelerate the growth of the program's freshmen and sophomores, extending Callahan's culture implementation and expectations into the 2016 season.

Chris Kolon: Detroit
Team Profile:

DOSSIER: DETROIT
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
2014 aPyth. Win Exp. % 36.41% 51
4-Yr. aPyth. Win. Exp. Avg. 36.70% 47*
4-Yr. aPyth. Win Exp. Var. 0.0025 16*
2014 W/L % 42.86% 40
4-Yr. W/L % 38.33% 44*

* Ranking based on teams that participated at the Division I level for the last four seasons.

Best Case Scenario:

  • Detroit is able to take advantage of the MAAC's insanity and make a push toward the MAAC Tournament title game, setting the stage to make an appearance in The Big Barbeque. The Titans did this as recently as 2013, surging at the end of the season despite (1) starting the season with six consecutive losses, (2) opening their MAAC reality with a 1-2 record with losses to Marist and Jacksonville, and (3) being the third or fourth best team in the league behind Marist and Siena and on par with Jacksonville. Kolon has been with the Titans since the program's Division I inception and has enough experience to potentially make a surprising rush a reality.
  • Kolon -- a defensive specialist -- is able to coax greater offensive volume and efficiency out of his team. The Titans have struggled in recent seasons to generate possession and maximize opportunities:

    DETROIT'S POSSESSION GENERATION AND MAXIMIZATION ISSUES
    METRIC '13 VALUE N'TL RANK '14 VALUE N'TL RANK
    Opportunities per 60 Minutes Margin -1.53 41 -3.20 52
    Faceoff Percentage 47.89% 38 40.71% 56
    Clearing Percentage 80.06% 57 79.37% 63
    Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 57.78 59 54.99 61
    Estimated Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 51.99% 59 48.21% 60

Worst Case Scenario:

  • The team continues its trajectory of a 3-3 finish -- the record the program has averaged in MAAC play since 2010 -- and ends up on the wrong side of the league's tournament tiebreaker, shuttling the Titans into the unknown. Uneven efforts against Quinnipiac, Manhattan, and Canisius keep Detroit from participating in a May adventure regardless of performances against Siena, Marist, and Monmouth. Maintaining a static ranking of around 47th nationally ultimately bombs the Titans out of contention.
  • Detroit's talent doesn't take a step forward, restricting the team's ceiling despite running with 11 seniors that include capable cats like Shayne Adams, Mike Birney, and Scott Drummond.

Judd Lattimore: Holy Cross
Team Profile:

DOSSIER: HOLY CROSS
METRIC VALUE NT'L RANK
2014 aPyth. Win Exp. % 24.59% 59
4-Yr. aPyth. Win. Exp. Avg. 25.73% 55*
4-Yr. aPyth. Win Exp. Var. 0.0085 39*
2014 W/L % 20.00% 59
4-Yr. W/L % 28.33% 53*

* Ranking based on teams that participated at the Division I level for the last four seasons.

Best Case Scenario:

  • Lattimore -- an offensive mind with a solid reputation in Division I lacrosse -- is able to harness an offense that returns its top five point generators from a season ago -- that quintet accounted for over 70 percent of the team's point production in 2014 -- and press it toward the middle of the nation, increasing the offense's efficiency from one that finished last spring at the top of the bottom third of the nation. The team's increase in offensive capacity helps erase the team's issues on the defensive end of the field and helps the Crusaders pull out a handful of one- and two-goal games (Holy Cross went 1-5 in one- and two-goal games last season).
  • Holy Cross is able to elbow out a position in the Patriot League Tournament with three league wins against Boston University, Lafayette, and a mystery team that the Crusaders are able to drop despite entering the game as an underdog (Holy Cross had two upset victories last spring -- against Richmond and Hartford -- but none were against Patriot League competition). The team's 3-5 record in the conference marks the program's best league winning percentage ever (the best that Holy Cross has ever finished in Patriot League play is 2-4 in 2013).

Worst Case Scenario:

  • The transfer of Ben Williams from Holy Cross to Syracuse crushes the team's possession-generating activity (the Crusaders earned almost 41 percent of their offensive opportunities from faceoff victories last season, the 14th highest mark in the nation) and Holy Cross is unable -- due to possession starvation and a defense that is unable to create forward momentum from a disastrous 2014 effort -- to compete against a tough Patriot League slate and a non-conference schedule devoid of guaranteed wins. The team sputters to a two-win season and the program's historic struggles continue into another offseason.