Following a 13-goal loss to Mercer this past weekend, it's pretty much a certainty that VMI's season will end on April 25th when the Keydets meet Massachusetts-Lowell in Scranton, Pennsylvania. VMI is trying, but circumstances just aren't accruing in the Keydets' favor: An 0-4 mark in Southern Conference play with an average margin of defeat of almost 12 goals per game has extinguished the hope that league competition would offer VMI softer opportunities to garner a victory against opponents with depressed ceilings. This is a tough situation for the Keydets to deal with given the fact that VMI's average differential on the scoreboard last season against Atlantic Sun competition was about four goals per game (the Keydets actually played three one-goal games against Atlantic Sun opponents in 2014 with VMI falling twice and beating Richmond in double overtime).
The Keydets have issues all over the field and a recitation of VMI's deficiencies probably isn't important or fair, but one point sticks out as a notable area of concern for the Keydets, serving as a likely touchstone for explaining some of the team's struggles this season: VMI is highly inefficient at generating box possessions and valuing the bean when in box opportunities.
On an estimated basis, the Keydets are only turning about 83 percent of their offensive opportunities into box possessions, the second worst mark in the nation. This is notably attributable to a clearing game that ranks 68th nationally at 72.30 percent. It's difficult to score if you can't turn an opportunity into an offensive threat, even if the team has issues canning the bean when in the green zone. In terms of valuing the bean, VMI has lost -- on an estimated basis -- about 53 percent of their functional offensive opportunities through a turnover, the third worst mark in the nation. Only one team in Division I commits more turnovers on a per possession basis than the Keydets, and the troubles that VMI has had in holding on to the ball has exacerbated other points of play that are lacking in some form or fashion.
This kind of inefficiency is devastating, and any kind of improvement that VMI can show in these two departments -- turning opportunities into loaded weapons and keeping the cannonball in the cannon before it is fired -- will go a long way toward finding a victory -- at least one! -- for the Keydets in 2015. VMI can do this, even if the odds are long and require the Keydets to put together 60 minutes of action that has been missing all season. Building out from the little things should help the big things coalesce enough to at least shrink the mileage that VMI needs to make up on its future opponents.
|DATE||OPPONENT||OPPONENT RECORD||MASSEY WIN %*||MASSEY MEAN SCORE*|
|April 11||at Furman||2-8||7%||5.34-11.84|
|April 17||High Point||6-5||3%||5.66-14.53|
|April 25||v. Massachusetts-Lowell||1-9||51%||10.20-10.13|
* Through games played on April 5, 2015.