Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2013 lacrosse schedule

Mega spoiler alert: This year's lacrosse schedule, as always, is the same as last year's.  (Except that Bellarmine has replaced Penn as the end-of-season contest.  I know, I'm not that excited either.)  The format is as follows:

Conference: The abbreviated name of the association of teams to which this particular lacrosse program belongs
Preseason rank: In the Inside Lacrosse media poll and USILA coaches' poll, respectively
2012 computer: LaxPower's final 2011 computer ranking
2012 record: Obvious
2012 tournament: Obvious
Last season: What we did to them or they did to us

2012 O-rating: My KenPomish calculation for this team's offensive prowess last year
2012 D-rating: My KenPomish calculation for this team's defensive prowess last year

To give the O- and D-ratings some context, the national D-I average last year was 15 and most teams fall in the range of 10-20. (A couple extraordinary ones are outside that range.)  High is good for offense, bad for defense, obviously.  Let's get right to it.

Drexel - Sat., February 16th - Home
Conference: CAA
Preseason rank: RV/RV
2012 computer: 17th of 61
2012 record: 8-8
2012 tournament: none
Last season: W, 9-8

2012 O-rating: 16.72 (17th of 61)
2012 D-rating: 14.11 (26th of 61)

Drexel always plays a tough game; UVA's early season jitters always seem to show in the first game.  That could be even more so this year, with an offense that's almost totally brand-new.  Fortunately, Drexel's defense is mostly brand-new too.  Giant-sized goalie Mark Manos is gone and Drexel has an assortment of underclassmen to try and replace him, as well as having to find two new starting defensemen.  Of course, we got the goalie thing going on too, and Drexel's offense returns two quality senior attackmen in Robert Church and Brendan Glynn.  As usual, don't expect a cakewalk.

VMI - Tue., February 19th - Home
Conference: MAAC
Preseason rank: none/none
2012 computer: 59th of 61
2012 record: 4-10
2012 tournament: none
Last season: W, 19-5

2012 O-rating: 12.28 (52nd of 61)
2012 D-rating: 17.95 (55th of 61)

Interestingly, VMI was actually much better last year than usual.  Their four-win season was the best they've had since 2008.  VMI has a solid goalie, Matt Lindemann, but most of their offensive firepower graduated and so did their two-thirds-success-rate faceoff guy.  (Of course, they usually seem to find a pretty good one regardless.)  Anyway, there won't be any drama here.  Even a better VMI team gave up 19 goals to the Hoos.

Stony Brook - Sat., February 23rd - Away

Conference: America East
Preseason rank: none/none
2012 computer: 34th of 61
2012 record: 7-10
2012 tournament: 1st round loss to Johns Hopkins
Last season: W, 12-5

2012 O-rating: 15.30 (28th of 61)
2012 D-rating: 15.73 (36th of 61)

For a time there, Stony Brook was quite the upstart, but they came crashing to earth last season after losing just about everyone who built that team, including the coach.  Sort of.  The A-East isn't a great conference, and Stony Brook won the tournament and earned the right to be basically the 15 seed and get creamed by Hopkins.  The America East media picked them second this year, as they have to break in another new goalie, but they have good offensive building blocks in sophomore attackman Mike Rooney and playmaking middie Jeff Tundo.  Rooney was one of the country's top freshmen last year with 34 goals, so he'll provide a test to UVA's defense.

Mount St. Mary's - Tue., February 26th - Home

Conference: NEC
Preseason rank: none/none
2012 computer: 40th of 61
2012 record: 6-9
2012 tournament: none
Last season: W, 17-5

2012 O-rating: 16.28 (20th of 61)
2012 D-rating: 17.89 (54th of 61)

Last year - or more specifically, in 2011, but at this time of year in 2012 still - my rating system put the Mountaineers 4th in the country on offense.  Now I have a way to adjust for schedule.  Mount St. Mary's is still pretty decent offensively, though.  Last season three guys scored exactly 29 goals for them - Bryant and Brett Schmidt and Andrew Scalley - and all return again this year.  So their identity as a team with a good offense and crummy defense should be intact, and they'll be in the hunt for the NEC's first-ever tourney autobid.  Also note: they have a bench-riding LSM named Matt Ward, for what that's worth to ya.

Syracuse - Fri., March 1 - Away

Conference: Big East
Preseason rank: 12th/13th
2012 computer: 16th of 61
2012 record: 9-8
2012 tournament: 1st round loss to Duke
Last season: W, 14-10

2012 O-rating: 15.21 (29th of 61)
2012 D-rating: 13.15 (16th of 61)

So last year there I was sitting in my rented apartment in Peru, hung the shit over from too much pisco sours, algarrobina, and Johnny Walker Red, and what do I have on my laptop but the gametracker for the Syracuse game.  Isn't the Internet wonderful.  I would've had the actual game but ESPN3 is finicky about internet providers and Peruvian ones don't fly and I wasn't in any mood to hunt around for a stream.

Anyway, this is the last year of this game being played out-of-conference, which, given UVA's preference for playing the ACC games all at the end of the season, may cause the schedule to juggle for the first time in like years.  The other interesting thing about Cuse is that the pollsters don't really expect them to be all that good.  They certainly weren't too hot last year; in fact if you followed my bracketology you remember they spent the season at severe risk of not getting into the tourney.  Scoring was tough to come by for the Orange - their options were limited - and it'll probably be that way to some extent this year too.  They'll have the same questions we do when it comes to "where's the scoring coming from," only more so, and it looks as though the pollsters expect them to struggle once again to grab an at-large bid.  Last year they won the Big East autobid, but they'd better get it figured out by 2014 because they'll be joining a conference without one.

Vermont - Tue., March 5 - Home
Conference: America East
Preseason rank: none/none
2012 computer: 56th of 61
2012 record: 2-12
2012 tournament: none
Last season: W, 16-10

2012 O-rating: 11.05 (57th of 61)
2012 D-rating: 16.75 (45th of 61)

How this piteous offense managed to score 10 goals on us last year is something we might want to look into.  No other team that beat them allowed so many, and that's a long list.  Vermont had basically two players who were a threat to do anything last year, one of whom is now gone.  Attackman Drew Philie scored 29 goals, but nobody exists who can consistently create anything for anyone else - eight is the highest returning assist total, so Philie's total probably won't be that high this year.  Picked sixth in the 6-team (and lousy) America East conference, UVM is about as good a candidate for biggest cupcake as VMI.

Cornell - Sat., March 9 - Home
Conference: Ivy League
Preseason rank: 6th/8th
2012 computer: 11th of 61
2012 record: 9-4
2012 tournament: none
Last season: W, 9-8 (OT)

2012 O-rating: 18.54 (6th)
2012 D-rating: 13.73 (22nd)

The conventional wisdom from last year is that Cornell missed the tournament because of Rob Pannell's injury.  That's certainly got a grain of truth to it, as Pannell was off to a blazing start with 16 points in just two games - not even two full games, really.  Goalie play was just as responsible, however.  I wrote last year that a lot depended on how well A.J. Fiore bounced back from a poor sophomore season, and he played awful and was replaced by Andrew West, who only managed a .515 save percentage himself.  Whoever plays in net for the Big Red this year will have help - they have a solid lineup of defenders - but has got to be better than that.

Pannell is back for a rare Ivy League fifth season of eligibility and will of course be a complete terror.  The guys that stepped up in his absence also mostly all return; Steve Mock and ex-UVA transfer Connor English are 20-goal scorers and Matt Donovan and Max Van Bourgondien are quality playmakers.  Add Pannell to that and Cornell will have a damn good offense and should end up back in the tournament if they can settle their goalie situation down.

Ohio State - Sat., March 16 - Home
Conference: ECAC
Preseason rank: 20th/19th
2012 computer: 19th of 61
2012 record: 8-7
2012 tournament: none
Last season: W, 11-9

2012 O-rating: 14.11 (38th of 61)
2012 D-rating: 11.59 (5th of 61)

The Buckeye story is the same as it was last year's preseason: very tough defense, ass offense.  Ohio State is to lacrosse as UVA is to basketball, so when goals are not scored in an OSU game, people chalk it up to that, but those are tempo-free numbers above.  They really are good at defense and bad at offense.  They still have Logan Schuss, one of the country's top scorers last year with 39 goals and 18 assists.  Jesse King and Dominique Alexander also provide a modicum of scoring punch.  But that's about it.  OSU will remain tough to score on because Greg Dutton is a solid goalie and because they like to play keep-away when they have the ball, but the new stall-warning shot clock may force them to take shots they don't like and make a bad offense look even worse.  (Or, worst-case scenario: make them realize they can score after all, and do it a lot more often.)

Johns Hopkins - Sat., March 23 - Baltimore
Conference: Independent
Preseason rank: 5th/4th
2012 computer: 10th of 61
2012 record: 12-4
2012 tournament: 2 seed; lost in quarterfinals to Maryland
Last season: L, 11-10 (OT)

2012 O-rating: 16.50 (18th)
2012 D-rating: 10.66 (2nd)

It'd be tough to rank a team with as good of a defense as Hopkins's out of the top 5, so the pollsters didn't.  Hopkins returns last year's William C. Schmeisser Award winner for the nation's top defenseman: Tucker Durkin.  He and Chris Lightner form a very tough pairing, and Pierce Bassett in net is one of the better goalies in the nation too.  A pedestrian .522 save percentage in 2012 probably doesn't tell the whole story; the defense kept a lot of shots from even happening and only the better ones got through.

Hopkins also returns almost their entire scoring contingent; Brandon Benn and Zach Palmer are two excellent attackmen, and of last year's top seven scorers, only one isn't back.  All that adds up to a pretty legitimate national title contender.  Plus, technically our game against them is a neutral site game, but in Baltimore, so not especially.

Maryland - Sat., March 30 - Home
Conference: ACC
Preseason rank: 2nd/2nd
2012 computer: 4th of 61
2012 record: 12-6
2012 tournament: Lost to Loyola in championship
Last season: W, 12-8

2012 O-rating: 18.65 (4th of 61)
2012 D-rating: 12.54 (9th of 61)

Is this the penultimate UVA-Maryland lacrosse game?  Maybe.  If so, it's their last game at Klockner unless the NCAA tournament matches up the two teams, and I admit to sharing the sentiment of the Duke fans at Cameron who serenaded the Terps' hoops team with a "Don't Come Back" chant.

Anyway, the pollsters didn't put a lot of movement into the polls between the end of last year and the beginning of this one.  Maryland is 2nd in both, behind Loyola, last year's champ.  Personally I like Hopkins better from a lineup standpoint.  Maryland still has their excellent goalie, Niko Amato, a good defense, slightly more attrition on offense.  The Terps lost their top scorer and some midfield depth - mainly referring to Michael Shakespeare with the latter, as he was a guy who was always good for second-line offense.  At attack, there's Owen Blye and Billy Gribbin, both productive scorers, and a very dangerous first-line midfield led by John Haus and Drew Snider.  From where we sit here in early February, though, Hopkins is still the toughest team up til this point on the schedule, if only by a nose.

North Carolina - Sat., April 6 - Home
Conference: ACC
Preseason rank: 7th/4th
2012 computer: 13th of 61
2012 record: 11-6
2012 tournament: 8 seed; lost in 1st round to Denver
Last season: W, 15-10

2012 O-rating: 18.22 (7th of 61)
2012 D-rating: 14.80 (29th of 61)

Carolina looks awfully similar to Cornell at this point.  They'll bring back an offense that's one step shy of terrifying; a three-headed monster of Marcus Holman, Joey Sankey, and Jimmy Bitter at attack will test even elite defenses, and they have a solid, deep midfield too.  Like Cornell, they bring back a very good faceoff man; in UNC's case, R.G. Keenan, who won over 60% last year.  And like Cornell, they're not too settled in net.  Steven Rastivo had only a .505 save percentage last year and must improve that for UNC to be a true final four contender.  The Heels also return just one of three starting defensemen.  That's the kind of uncertainty that causes such a big discrepancy in their poll rankings, the kind you don't usually see near the top.

Duke - Fri., April 12 - Away
Conference: ACC
Preseason rank: 4th/6th
2012 computer: 7th of 61
2012 record: 15-5
2012 tournament: 3 seed; lost to Maryland in semifinal
Last season: L, 13-5

2012 O-rating: 18.60 (5th of 61)
2012 D-rating: 13.04 (13th of 61)

Like it ever matters what these guys have.  This game is one of the top yearly embarrassments in all of UVA sports.  First we have to listen to the announcers talk for 30 minutes straight about nothing but how we never beat Duke, then we have to watch the game, which is never even close.  I'm not sure which is worse.  Last year a team with Steele Stanwick on it scored five goals on Duke, and it's not even like Dan Wigrizer is a good goalie.  In the Thank God For Small Miracles department, C.J. Costabile is no longer around to take faceoffs; I know the stats don't quite show it but actually watching our guys try to face off against him was more pitiful than watching a one-legged puppy try to walk.

There's still the matter of their explosive offense, though; Duke brings back three 30+ goal scorers in Jordan Wolf, Christian Walsh, and Josh Dionne, a set of three attackmen to rival Carolina's.  Given that this game is on the road and our inexperienced team will probably be fairly beat up at this point, I'm thinking of pretending this game doesn't even exist.

Bellarmine - Sat., April 20 - Home
Conference: ECAC
Preseason rank: none/none
2012 computer: 39th of 61
2012 record: 4-8
2012 tournament: none
Last season: did not play

2012 O-rating: 13.20 (42nd of 61)
2012 D-rating: 15.18 (33rd of 61)

Maybe these guys are the lacrosse substitute for Louisville on the future schedule; they exist in the same city, anyway.  What they really are is Penn's replacement after a two year stint with the Quakers.  Penn is Ivy League and therefore has the name recognition, but truth is, Bellarmine isn't much worse from a tempo-free perspective.  This will be Bellarmine's ninth year as a D-I program, and they're slowly bringing themselves around to respectability - better than you might figure a very small D-II (in all other sports) school in Kentucky would fare in lacrosse.  They lost a lot of close games to good teams last year, including Maryland, Loyola, Fairfield, and Robert Morris, and you know they'll be gunning for UVA to finally get a signature win.  They'll need to put up a better showing on offense, though.  Only three players scored double-digit goals last year and two are gone, leaving attackman Michael Ward to try and carry the load.  Unlike the Penn games the last two years, this one is before, not after, the ACC tournament.


I did promise the results of the weekly basketball season simulator, so here they are, below.  Note that UVA moved down, not up, an unsurprising result since GT was a tossup but KenPom said were basically supposed to beat NC State.  Miami is busy solidifying its #1 seed and VT is working hard to make #12 all its own.  I included last week's for comparison.

A commenter asked that I put in the teams' records each week.  So that's not in here this week, but next week it will.


No comments: