Providence may be one of the worst teams in the nation. In terms of records they haven’t won a game since April of 2009 and are the only winless team in Division 1. We all expected then #1 Syracuse to blow by Providence in a game with top talent on one side, and an upstart program newly playing with house money. But this game was brutal to watch for a different reason. Providence slowed the game down and gave everyone in favor of a lacrosse shot clock exhibit A. I’ll address this and more in this very dense edition of lacrosse weekly, but first we have to talk about Syracuse’s ninth win in a row. They beat Providence in the Dome on Senior Day 14 to five.
Syracuse started the scoring in this game with a fun behind the back goal from Chris Daniello. Syracuse added two more in the first quarter before Providence got on the board in the second. Providence played their game of slowing the ball and their goalie Christian Dzwilewski playing shortly after a death in the family brilliantly, contributed to a small Syracuse advantage of only 6-3. Being down to Syracuse by only three at the half is a huge victory. But they Syracuse outscored Providence five to two in the third quarter and earned the only three goals in the last quarter to put Syracuse up by nine goals to finish the game.
Providence played an EXTREMELY slow pace which tried to limit possessions for Syracuse. However it also meant that Providence wasn’t scoring either. Now, this strategy is fine if you are still only down a couple of goals, but when you are losing by six goals and it is already the second half, maybe you want to try and push the ball and get some quick scores instead of just holding the ball. The Providence defense was actually pretty impressive in the first half though as they implored a nifty zone defense that Syracuse had trouble getting good looks from five to 15 yards away from the goal. However, it seemed like anything on the doorstep went in for Syracuse. Similarly, it was when Syracuse passed crisply around the crease that they found great success. However that was really not possible until the second half. Both teams had several turnovers at the half.
Chris Daniello and Cody Jamieson were the leading scorers of the day. They both had hat tricks and two assists a piece. Max Bartig had two goals on the day and six others added a goal a piece. Four others assisted on goals. Joel White, the consistent goundball vacuum, had five in this game, along with John Lade, one of the best defenders in the country. Syracuse surprisingly had a very bad day at the X. Jeremy Thompson, who lead the nation in faceoff percentage, was 0-5 on the day. Gavin Jenkinson had a much better day with eight wins out of 13 Josh Knight won 1-4, and Tim Harder was 0-1 to round out Syracuse’s faceoff attempts. John Galloway earns another win allowing five goals and making four saves in three quarters of work. Al Cavalieri played well in his last game in the Carrier Dome, making two saves and allowing 0 goals playing 13 and a half minutes. Finally, Nathan Farabee made one save and allowed 0 goals in a minute and a half of work.
No surprise in how Providence played that SU dominated them in shots. Syracuse took 45, while Providence only shot 15 times. The Orange also dominated on groundballs (as expected), picking up 37 to PC’s 32. Providence again led in faceoffs on the day, winning 14 of 23, while Syracuse won nine. Syracuse was successful in their extra-man offense, capitalizing on three of four opportunities, while Providence was 0-2 in their chances. Providence had 15 saves in the game, while Syracuse had seven. Finally, Providence had 27 turnovers, while Syracuse had only 14. The complete box score can be found here.
Syracuse, due to Providence’s weak strength, actually managed to drop in both the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and the Coaches Poll. They are now #2 in both behind #1 Virginia. UVA earned 15 first place votes, with Syracuse still earning six. Both Virginia and Syracuse earned five first place votes a piece from the coaches, but Virginia edged out Syracuse by one point in the poll. Maryland, North Carolina, and Duke round out the top five as both polls are identical. The “independent” ACC teams have their little four team tournament to thank.
Speaking of that ACC Tournament, the NCAA’s first RPI numbers have been released. Syracuse is currently listed at #4 behind Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. Without question Virginia is a great team and probably just has the edge over Syracuse. However, because these ACC teams (which are technically independent in the NCAA’s eyes because by rule you need to have six teams to constitute a conference) have at least one more game with the other strong teams in their conference, they artificially inflate their RPI and strength of schedule. Last year the NCAA Selection Committee was not fooled by this tournament for the first time in a while. Hopefully they will not be fooled again this year by not giving so much weight to those numbers and look at resumes and the talent on the field. The complete RPI numbers for all 60 teams can be found here. May 3rd will be the next date the NCAA updates their RPI numbers.
Now let’s take a look around the country for scores. Games involving Big East opponents are in italics.
Friday April 23:
Duke 12 – Virginia 16 in ACC Tournament
Maryland 13 – North Carolina 5 in ACC Tournament
Saturday April 24:
Denver 9 – Fairfield 8
Johns Hopkins 8 – Navy 9 in OT
UMBC 8 – Vermont 7 in OT
Holy Cross 10 – Army 13
Notre Dame 13 – St. John’s 6
Loyola 17 – Hobart 12
Princeton 8 – Harvard 11
Brown 13 – Cornell 10
Colgate 7 – Bucknell 8 in OT
Massachusetts 13 – Georgetown 12
Stony Brook 15 – Albany 0
Sunday April 25:
Villanova 8 – Rutgers 4
Maryland 6 – Virginia 10 in ACC Championship
As always, the complete Inside Lacrosse scoreboard is found here.
Now we take our weekly look at the Big East Conference:
1. #2 Syracuse 11-1 (4-0)
2. #13/12 Villanova 9-4 (3-1)
3. #15/14 Georgetown 7-5 (3-1)
4. ARV/#19 Notre Dame 7-5 (2-3)
5. St. John’s 5-7 (2-3)
6. Rutgers 5-7 (1-3)
7. Providence 0-12 (0-4)
Back to the shot clock issue for a moment, the Providence game was a big illustration that a shot clock could add to some games that could be slow and bad. However, I do not think a shot clock is necessary at this point. The majority of games are not like this. The vast majority of games are fast, entertaining, and features around at least 16 goals combined between the two teams. For instance, Loyola and Hobart combined for 29 goals. If anything, I’d be for a “two point” line in college lacrosse before a shot clock. Either way, the slow down is a decent strategy to limit possessions of an opposing team, however you have to remember that the team that has the most points wins, not the team that held the ball the longest.
Also, in a huge victory for coaches and the media, Johns Hopkins has dropped out of both polls. To further illustrate that Hopkins is absolutely stinko this season (Thanks for hurting our RPI Blue Jays. You used to be a good win.), Orange::44 founder and current Hoya Suxa proprietor has written an excellent article to illustrate just how much Hopkins has fallen. It’s exactly the kind of awesome lacrosse stuff he used to write on the regular here. Seeing as it’s pretty numbers intensive, and relatively serious, he chose to post it over here instead of the more incendiary Hoya Suxa. We’re grateful. Check out the article here.
Finally, Syracuse has been known for fantastic trick shots this season. It started with Cody Jamieson making it on the Sportscenter Top 10 with his one handed through the legs shot. Then Tim Desko lit it up with a goal through his legs facing the opposite way. Then Jamieson continued to hit behind the back shots. The SU Lax team is now on Twitter (@SUMensLacrosse) and you should probably be following them, but also they want to know what the best SU goal of the year is so far. Be sure to let them know. Enjoy Jamieson talking about trick shots here thanks to CitrusTV.
Syracuse will next take on #19 Notre Dame (7-5, 2-3) in an allegedly sold out game in South Bend at 7:00pm on Saturday May 1st. It’s on ESPN U so chances are you can watch it. It should be a great game as Notre Dame has really played well lately and is now ranked. They’ve got good wins versus Duke and Loyola, but Syracuse should outclass them in this one. However it should be far more entertaining than the previous couple of games. Pending another asininely hot goalie, this one should be a good win for Syracuse, and a little more comfortable at the half than the previous few.