Friday, May 9, 2014
game preview: Johns Hopkins
Date/Time: Sunday, May 11; 1:00
Record against the Jays: 29-57-1
Last meeting: UVA 11, JHU 10; 3/22/14, Charlottesville
Last game: UVA 13, UNC 11 (4/26); LU 13, JHU 10 (5/1)
Rankings: UVA #7/#8, JHU #7/#7
UVA: 47.3% (#42)
JHU: 58.1% (#12)
UVA: 85.5% (#42)
JHU: 83.2% (#53)
UVA: 76.9% (#2)
JHU: 85.6% (#29)
Scoring % (offense):
UVA: 37.1% (#17)
JHU: 37.3% (#15)
Scoring % (defense):
UVA: 34.1% (#36)
JHU: 27.9% (#6)
UVA: 18.09 (#13)
JHU: 18.10 (#12)
UVA: 14.01 (#17)
JHU: 11.34 (#1)
(Ratings are my KenPom-esque measures of efficiency for lacrosse. Numbers are schedule-adjusted. National median is about 15.6.)
I thought with Hopkins's resume, they were a better match for a higher-seeded host, but from the neutral-observer perspective, you'd have to admit this is a picture-perfect game. Two very old-school rivals with very mixed results on the season, with almost identical poll numbers (tied in one case) and in a "fantastic college lacrosse setting" (I hope that phrase hasn't been trademarked yet by Quint Kessenich.)
UVA won the regular-season matchup, and naturally it was a close one, with Greg Coholan scoring the OT winner. That was a huge game for the "why is Van Arsdale getting all of Lukacovic's playing time" movement, being as the former was scoreless with two turnovers while the latter had two goals that closed up the 4th-quarter gap UVA faced.
Hopkins is still largely untested, in a way. A team that's only beaten bad teams and only lost to good ones, you still don't know quite how good they are; only a win over Maryland (and Albany, kinda) breaks the pattern. They're in the tourney probably on the strength of that Maryland win; it was rather convincing, and their losses weren't blowouts, really.
They hang their hat on their defense. The offense is of course solid, but limited in some ways. In net, they have their version of Rob Fortunato in senior Eric Schneider, who sat three years behind Pierce Bassett and stepped out this year to do a very solid job in the crease. Jack Reilly and John Kelly are big, tough defensemen, although Hopkins isn't especially aggressive on defense; they'll let you make the mistakes on your own. LSM Michael Pellegrino, despite being fairly small, leads the Hop with 13 caused turnovers. (In probably related news, Pellegrino is the slightly hotheaded guy who got slammed by James Pannell in the earlier game and then went bonkers a few minutes later, being called for two simultaneous penalties and probably committing twice that many.) As a team they cause relatively few turnovers and their games, on average, feature over 8 fewer ground balls than UVA's games do; this is only partially pace-related.
The offense largely consists of Wells Stanwick behind the net, passing to fellow attackmen Brandon Benn and Ryan Brown, both of them 30+ goal scorers. Midfield, though, is middling at best. Holden Cattoni is a threat from back there, but Rob Guida does most of his scoring against non-contending teams and for the most part there isn't much else to speak of. The attackmen combo is championship-worthy, and they'll get theirs, but UVA will be content the more the midfielders are firing away.
The other weakness in Hopkins's game is their clear; it hasn't been great. UVA's has been uncharacteristically crummy, too, but Hopkins has it worse. That's a bad sign and could be just the edge UVA needs, given that the Hoos' ride has been so good this year. To balance that out, Hopkins brings a +60% FOGO to the field in Drew Kennedy, so UVA will have to be on top of its game there, which, even that is not usually enough.
All in all it makes for a pretty great matchup for plain old fans of the game. Both teams have gaping flaws; UVA hasn't been great on defense, the goaltending has been subpar, and the faceoffs are the same as always. (The defense, though, has been improving. It's better than it was a month, six weeks ago and has started to show flashes and bursts, here and there, of the near-dominant unit I thought it could be.) Hopkins has a poor midfield game and hasn't proven they can consistently come through against top competition. UVA is somewhat better-tested and more proven - that's why the game is in Charlottesville and not Baltimore - and the home field should give a tiny edge too.
Prediction: UVA 10, JHU 8
P.S. To the Redskins fan - and almost definitely UVA fan - who, upon seeing your beloved Skins pick a Stanford linebacker in the second round, blurted, "WHAT?!?! MORGAN MOSES!" to 25 million people - you win the draft. And you win it again for getting your wish after all.