Our 12th 2017 Scouting Report is on 2016's 60th ranked RPI team, the Furman Paladins!!
STAND UP, FURMAN!!!
Profile: Bit of a regression for the young Paladins in 2016. This was Furman's 3rd full season as a D1 program, so growing pains should be expected. Nevertheless, given the fact that Furman went from 1-12 in their initial year to 4-9 and a trip to the SoCon Tournament in 2015, it looked like the Paladins were poised to be more of a force in the conference in 2016. However, that didn't happen as the SoCon was significantly better in 2016 and Furman wasn't able to stay with the pack.
2016 Record: 2-11 overall and 2-5 in the SoCon. Furman almost kicked off the season with a bang, as they took Ohio State to the wire in 8-7 loss at home. Furman was up and down statistically in 2016 as compared to 2015. The Paladins scored nearly a point more per game, but took 5 less shots/game than they did in 2015. Furman was more accurate in 2016 and significantly improved their SOG pct. to nearly 65%, from the 53% in 2015, however defensively, Furman gave up 11 Gs/game which was up from 9.2 last year.
Furman started out 2-1 in the SoCon and a conference tournament bid was definitely a possibility. However, after a triple OT loss to loss to Richmond, the Paladins lost the next 3 conference games and failed to make a return trip to the SoCon tournament. This is still a young program and stumbles aren't unexpected, so no real reason to worry. Furthermore, they are in good hands with BOSS Meade, so I think they'll be more competitive in 2016.
Roster: Furman only had 3 seniors in 2016, so they return pretty much everyone and will have another class of recruited athletes to add to the roster, which will certainly help.
Rising sophomore David Williamson is a big returnee. The Gainesville, VA native led the team in goals and assists (15 Gs, 10 As). Rising junior Jonah Moore dipped a little in his production in 2016, but was still second on the team in goals & assists (14 Gs & 8 As). Rising sophomore William Holcomb didn't get onto the field until mid-March, but in only 8 games he had 9 Gs & 6 As. Holcomb's development along with Williamson and Moore will be important if Furman is to make any moves in the SoCon.
Probably most important for the Paladins is the addition of another recruited class. If Furman can get some production from the incoming class and steady their defense, the team could be in the running for a conference tournament bid.
Conference: The SoCon is no joke. We all thought it would be Richmond and High Point going into the year, and while both had strong seasons, Air Force came out of nowhere and stole the limelight for much of the season. The conference scored some major out of conference wins this year over Duke & Virginia, and the SoCon was good enough to avoid the play-in game round of the Big BBQ, so this is definitely a conference on the upswing. By any measure, the SoCon is not far off from other middle tier conferences like the American East and Colonial.
Furman faces an uphill battle as the top of the conference is formidable and the middle is getting more competitive as well, especially now that Jacksonville added John Galloway and Casey Powell as their new head coach and offensive coordinator, respectively. The Paladins will have a lot of work to do if they want to get a spot in the conference tournament next season.
What are they doing this summer: Shout out to assistant coach Andrew Athens on the birth of his son Cruize in June.
Congratulations to @CoachAthens and his wife Kilee on the birth of their son Cruize Athens!— Furman Lacrosse (@FURMANMLAX) June 22, 2016
2017 outlook: 2017 is going to be a tough year for Furman. While I don't think they were that far off in 2016, the conference as a whole got better, and looks to be even better next year. Furman's best chance at Big BBQ glory is through the conference tournament and if they can play as well as they did early in 2016 when they were 2-1 and an OT loss to Richmond away from 3-1, they might have a chance at a conference tournament bid.
That's a big if, but with another recruited class coming in the fall, it's possible that we see Furman snag 1 or 2 more conference wins next year and get back to the SoCon tournament.
Non-Sequitor: American soccer hero, Clint Dempsey is an alum.