Friday, April 13, 2012

game preview: Duke

Date/Time: Friday, April 13; 6:00


Record against the Blue Devils: 49-26

Last matchup: Duke 19, UVA 10; 4/22/11; Durham (ACC tournament)

Last game: UVA 15, UNC 10 (4/7); Duke 11, Marist 10 (4/7)

Efficiency stats:

Faceoff %:
UVA: 56.4%
Duke: 57.4%

Clearing %:
UVA: 89.6% (off.), 85.8% (def.)
Duke: 82.1% (off.), 86.7% (def.)

Scoring %:
UVA: 39.7% (off.), 29.4% (def.)
Duke: 37.8% (off.), 30.9% (def.)

UVA: 19.78 (#2)
Duke: 18.39 (#5)

UVA: 12.88 (#13)
Duke: 13.53 (#21)

It's one of those big weekends.  Tomorrow, the Duke game, and the UNC baseball series begins as well.  Saturday, more baseball and the spring football game.  And then there's the Anthony Gill visit (about which Whitey Reid has some excellent info.)  I suspect the Friday scheduling of the lacrosse game is because of the football game, which is too bad because I thought the combination football-lax extravaganza was a big step in the right direction toward the sort of all-out fun-time festival the spring football game should be.  It rained last year, which sort of soured things, but I'd still enjoy seeing all these things treated as part of a larger whole instead of getting in the way of each other.

Tomorrow we'll talk spring football.  Today, Duke.  We got good news this afternoon when it was announced that Ryan Benincasa will be available after sitting out the part of the UNC game that happened after he was hit in the bean.  It could have cost us the game; Benincasa looked as though he'd figured out something on UNC's R.G. Keenan and was winning a lot of faceoffs all the same way.  Having him ready for Duke will be big.

-- UVA on offense

When not playing a man down, Duke has a fairly stout defense, a fact made even more impressive when you consider the streaky play of goalie Dan Wigrizer.  On the whole, Wigrizer isn't a great goaltender, with only a .519 save percentage.  And just when you think you're comfortable with that and you like the idea of Duke having a sieve for a netminder, Wigrizer stands on his head and stops like eight shots in a row.  If you can get off a good shot, you can probably get it past Wigrizer....except when he's in one of his moods, and then he's a wall.

Duke's got some big guys at close-in defense, which is the sort of thing that gave us trouble at times against Hopkins.  Michael Manley is an experienced senior, and the smallest of the bunch, too.  He's not actually small, it's just that sophomores Henry Lobb and Chris Hipps are each 6'4".  But the leader of the defense is LSM C.J. Costabile.  Costabile also takes faceoffs (making him, as a long-stick guy, a rare breed in that department), and has earned a number of honors over his career, including being a finalist for the Lowe's Senior Class Award, which by the way Steele Stanwick is also a finalist for that so go vote for him if you don't want the Dookie to win.

So it's a solid defense they have, and it'd be even better if they were good at man-down defense.  They have to play it a lot - Duke is one of the most heavily penalized teams in the country.  They average five per game, and they're led by reserve defenseman Luke Duprey (by the way, he's 6'5") with 10.  Mostly of the 60-second variety.  Manley is a close second with nine.  And when you get the ball, you just might score; Duke allows a 47% conversion rate on man-up chances.  This translates to two goals a game.

I doubt we'll get a lot of one-on-one chances against Duke's close-in defense, given their size, and it won't be possible to force the ball into the doorstep if it's covered.  Even less than usual, that is.  Lord knows we try, sometimes.  Duke's just too big for that.  But the chances will come like they always have.  They're good, but not fearsome - much like our other two ACC opponents.  When we get man-up chances we must - and probably will - capitalize, and it's worth knowing that a lot of teams have scored on Duke that shouldn't be able to.  Double-digit goals for Marist, Georgetown, Syracuse**, eight goals apiece for Brown and Penn - all teams with below-average O-ratings.  So I expect to keep on finding the back of the net.

**It's really weird to be putting Syracuse in that group, but there they are, right between Delaware and Jacksonville in the O-rating department.

-- UVA on defense

We've got a pretty formidable offensive lineup.  Duke is one of the few teams in the country that can match it.  There's a trio of sophomore attackmen - Jordan Walsh, Christian Walsh, and Josh Dionne - that make a case for the most productive attack in the country, and senior midfielder Robert Rotanz has always been an extremely dangerous player too.  Dionne and Wolf are the guys making the case that five-foot-single-digits is just fine; neither are 5'10" and between them they have 48 goals.  Wolf in particular is dangerous; playing the X, behind the net, he has 24 goals and 20 assists.  Rotanz is an excellent one-on-one dodger, and he leads the team with 26 goals.

Those four are the names you'll hear the most.  Beyond that, it gets thin.  There are capable players, but complementary parts at best; Justin Turri has 11 goals and the third starting middie, Jake Tripucka, has nine, but the thing is this: practically nobody after the top four has a shooting percentage above .300.  Consider this: Rob Emery and Matt White put about the same percentage of their shots on net as do Turri and Tripucka, but the Duke players' shooting percentages are .212 and .205, respectively; Emery and White have a much more normal .352 and .382.

Still: the top four.  And you'd think with all that offensive talent, Duke would have a scary man-up unit, but they're merely 11-for-51, a conversion percentage of .216.  That's..... pretty bad, actually.  Here's a little mental exercise: Duke's opponents have handed them 47 minutes' worth of penalties in 13 games.  Duke themselves have committed 56.5 minutes' worth of penalties.  Let's subtract those from the 780 minutes of game time they've played.  That leaves 676.5 minutes.  (I know that penalties usually end when a goal is scored; just bear with me.)  Divide the 676.5 minutes in half to approximate the time that Duke spends on offense and we get 338.25.

So in our theoretical world, Duke has played 47 minutes a man-up and 338 minutes of even-strength offense.  With 11 man-up goals, that's a goal for every 4:16 of man-up time.  (We'll pretend you spend every second of man-up play on offense, even though you don't, because you should.)  They've scored 138 even-strength goals, or one for every 2:27 of even-strength offense time.  Duke gets worse when you give them an extra man.  With as easy as it is to score on their man-down defense, theoretically, then, the best game plan is to spend the whole game trying to beat them into submission and hoping maybe they retaliate once in a while.

(In case you're wondering, the same tortured mathematical calisthenics when performed on UVA's stats give us a goal for every 1:44 of man-up time and a goal for every 2:22 of even-strength offensive time.)

This is kind of a tongue-in-cheek suggestion, of course - obviously I don't want to actually break their players over our sticks in hopes of earning a parade to the penalty box.  I want to break them legally.  The point here is that Duke probably needs a new special-teams coach.

-- Outlook

It's Senior Night, and it's Duke; you shouldn't need any more reason to want to win by 13.  In the standings there is none; thanks to the way the tiebreakers work, the ACC tourney pairings are already set.  We got UNC, Duke has Maryland.  Duke lost to Maryland in the regular season, but I don't see it happening again, which means there's a decent likelihood we'll match up in another week's time, same teams, same field, just like last year.  That's no reason to look ahead to a rematch that might not even happen, of course, but we lost twice to these guys last year, and we can't flip the script without winning the first one.  I know these Dookie bastards are our kryptonite year in and year out, but we've got Steele Stanwick and Chris Bocklet making opposing fans go "please hurry the eff up and graduate" and a machine of an offense and I'll be damned if I predict this team to lose.

-- Final score: [redacted to appease the fickle lacrosse gods]**


-- Did I mention Steele Stanwick?  I did, but I must again.  He is mere tenths of a percentage point ahead of Costabile the Dukie, and trailing two guys from Siena(!) and Ohio State.  Siena has three fans and Ohio State is the devil.  Steele Stanwick : lacrosse :: Danny Hultzen : baseball.  VOTE FOR HIM DAMMIT

-- This was too fun to wait til Monday's weekend review: UVA got a shout on the Colbert Report the other day.  We are a school that is Doing It Right, at least in the mind of Colbert's smart-sounding interviewee, who was not kidding even though Colbert usually is.  We're also the only school that Colbert heard on the Doing It Right list and earned a cheer instead of a snarky reply upon mention.  (Colbert's wife is a Hoo.  He is not stupid.)  Click, then, to hear Wahoowa, Stephen Colbert style.

**OK, OK....13-12.  Shhh!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hate Duke lacrosse. What the hell?