Friday, April 16, 2010

game preview: Dook

Installment #2 of Revenge Weekend is tomorrow, as the lacrosse team takes on the only opponent it can't seem to ever crack: Duke. Duke is a pain whether or not we play them, as Lambeth Field points out. Worse, they always find a way to score like our defense just isn't there. 31 goals in two games last year; the year before, 19 in the regular season game alone.

Guess what: they can score this year too. The offense is almost entirely run through the attack; the three starting attackmen (Quinzani, Crotty, Howell) have more goals and points than the rest of the team combined. Max Quinzani is the nation's goal leader with 45, and Ned Crotty's 38 assists also lead the country. Zach Howell's no wallflower, either, with 31 goals. Quinzani's shot is deadly accurate. If there's one team in the country that'll make you pay for ball-watching, like our guys are over-prone to do on occasion, it's Duke.

They can be shut down by good defense, though. UNC still has the best defense in the country, and they harassed Crotty into making no impact on the scoresheet except under "turnovers", where he contributed six. In their Carolina game, Quinzani still got his goals - he will always get his goals - but Crotty was no help and Howell was nearly as invisible. Loyola, 2nd best defense in the country, same result: Quinzani got his goals and got almost no scoreboard help from anyone else, though Crotty did have four assists.

Well, guess who has the third best scoring defense? Duke faces them on Saturday. Not to oversimplify the equation, but the game will be as easy as shutting down Duke's attack, because they can't count on the midfield to pick up the slack if the attack isn't scoring. Duke's statistics are pretty much comparable to UVA's, and their ranking and 10-3 record is impressive, but they've been, in LF's words, bottom-feeding a little bit. That's a little harsh - they've beaten Brown, Loyola, and Georgetown, which aren't such shabby teams, and Maryland needed OT to finish Duke off - but their offense tends to disappear against the top-notch defenses and they've played more of the dregs than most of the contenders have.

As far as strategy, the best way to keep an opposing attack from scoring is to keep them from getting the ball in the first place, and I'd like to see UVA take fewer shots this game and stick to working the ball around the box until quality opportunities present themselves. There've been too many self-caused turnovers lately. Eventually, if you have the ball, you'll score; this is especially true with Duke and their dangerous attack, so an overabundance of patience is the key to this game.

No comments: