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Abbreviated Lacrosse Notes

Throughout the last twenty years or so, Syracuse has premised its success on the lacrosse on three fundamental aspects of the game:

1) Sound, take-away defense;
2) High-speed transition offense generated by opponent's turnovers; and
3) An offensive philosophy encouraging attackmen and midfielders to throw a barrage of shots on net.

This model for lacrosse success -- as developed by Roy Simmons, Jr. -- is still a methodology that creates more opportunities for victory rather than defeat. Programs like Duke, Towson, and Albany have embraced this approach to the game and have consequently flourished from implementation of the system.

Syracuse, for whatever reason, has not been able to master this system in 2006. While much of the team's inability to capitalize on the very system it patented may be attributed to injuries to three of the team's primary offensive cogs -- Greg Niewieroski, Greg Rommel, and Steven Brooks -- it is still disappointing to see the Orange's recent failures come as the residue of its lack of competence in executing the Syracuse system.

Looking at a sampling of statistics over the course of Syracuse's four-game losing streak bears out this thought:

3.04.06: Syracuse at Virginia

3.10.06: Georgetown at Syracuse

3.18.06: Syracuse at Johns Hopkins

3.28.06: Hobart at Syracuse

F.O.W. - Face-offs won
Cl.Opp. - Total team clearing opportunities
O.F.Cl - Opponent failed clearing opportunities
Poss. - Possessions
Sht% - Shooting percentage
S/Poss. - Shots per possession
G/Poss. - Goals per possession

Looking at these statistics, it doesn't take a genius to realize that Syracuse is not playing the same kind of lacrosse it was only a few years ago. In the last four games, Syracuse has only out-possessed its opponent once -- against Hobart (42-41) -- and has, generally, been less efficient offensively than its counterparts. This is not a recipe for success, especially for a team that thrives on getting out in transition and ratcheting up the pace of play.

There are two aspects of the game to which Syracuse can work on to try and even up the number of possessions in a game. The first is dominance in the face-off circle. If Syracuse can continue to improve at the "x," the offense will necessarily have more offensive possessions. The second aspect of the game that necessitates immediate attention is clearing opportunities and takeaways. I lump these together because they both impose a responsibility on the defense to attack and create opportunities for the offense.

With regard to clearing efficiency, Syracuse has been dreadful in 2006. In only one contest -- against Hobart -- has Syracuse's opponent failed the clear the ball from its defensive end fewer times than the Orange were able to accomplish. That is unacceptable. Syracuse must implement a clearing strategy that efficiently marches the ball upfield, because if it doesn't, the Orange is in line to see more offensive opportunities squandered. Furthermore, it wouldn't hurt for Syracuse's attack to ride its opponent's clears a little harder. I can't remember how many times Mike Powell created easy offensive chances for the Orange by simply dedicating himself to a hard ride.

What really stands out as worrisome is the shots per possession that Syracuse is allowing its opponents. Only twice over the last four games has the Orange taken more shots per possession than its opponent -- against Georgetown and Johns Hopkins. This smacks of either uncertainty in shot selection, poor shot selection, and a lack of effort in backing up errant shots on net.

To put it quite simply, this team can't win if it isn't outshooting its opponent. Given the fact that Syracuse has only topped the 30% mark once over the last four games in shooting percentage, this team needs to fire more shots on net if it wants to outscore its opponent. Plus, the more shots Syracuse is able to take while on offense, the fewer shots it allows its opponent to take against rookie net minder Peter Colluccini as they will necessarily have the number of offensive possessions limited by Syracuse's onslaught of shots.

2 Responses to “Abbreviated Lacrosse Notes”

  1. # Anonymous Becky

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  2. # Anonymous Matt Glaude

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    However, given the fact that this is emanating from Norwich, I am suddenly filled with feelings of nausea and disdain.

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