Regular Season Assessment

Powellfan

Scout Team
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
390
Like
482
Before the start of the post-season, which Syracuse should very much be a part of, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on a very up and down, though mostly up, regular season for the Orange. I thought it would be a fun exercise to take a look at each position group and see how they've developed throughout the year.

Attack: I think the biggest headline for this attack group has been the early season struggles of Stephen Rhefuss. Last year's leading scorer started the season both sick and hurt and it showed on the field. He struggled with confidence. However, recently Rhefuss has figured things out and looks like his old self, and his two running mates have been very solid all year. I have been very hard on Solomon, and while he hasn't put up All American numbers this year, I think he's been very solid and is playing his best lacrosse for the Orange. He is shooting the ball well and while he still turns it over too much for my liking, he's looked like a more confident dodger and shown the ability to take punishment. What can you say about Voigt? He's the team's leading scorer and it's emotional center. He may not dodge at all, but has shown he can shoot the ball in a variety of ways from a variety of angles. It's hard not to stress how impressive he's been this season. Depending on how far the team goes, he might be the first All-American this unit produces in a couple of years.
Grade: B

Midfield: While the attack unit struggled to start the year, the pieces were picked up by a young but talented midfield - they lead the team in shots midway through the season which is quite rare. Curry especially really put this team on his back to start the year. Trimboli has been solid all year and Lipka has filled in nicely for an injured Dordevic. Plus a real star looks to be emerging in Buttermore. The slight against this unit is a really sub-par shooting percentage an up and down second unit outside of Buttermore and Curry's late season struggles. They have to potential for a higher grade, but need to start shooting the ball more accurately.
Grade: B+

Face-off: What a revelation Phaup has been - really you can point to a number of games and he and Varello at times have been the MVP (Hopkins and Rutgers both stick out in my mind). Phaup has a great ability to get the ball himself and he seems to get better as the game progresses. Only concern right now is his late season struggles against UNC and Navy. Does he just need rest? Varello has been really great in some games, but also struggles in others. The Colgate, UVA and UNC losses could have been prevented with better FOGO play. That said, this unit has been an overall plus and very much welcomed after an off season of doubt.
Grade: B+

Defensive midfield: Kennedy might be the best LSM at SU since White and Dearth might be the best SSDM since Abbott. That says a lot. The backups have also been really good this year, and the SSDM role really went from a glaring weakness to a strength. Still, some weakness has shown - UNC scored six inverted goals in the ACC Tournament and UVA really exploited this area as well. I think they need more help from long sticks, as a shorty can only do so much for so long. Still, like the face-off unit you its an absolute net gain.
Grade: B+

Close defense: A very veteran group has really been solid this year - led by Nick Mellen this team has really impressed. They have had their slip ups for sure, against Colgate they looked lost, UVa overwhelmed, ND like they were still on the bus for the first half. But overall against some very good competition they really came together as a strong unit. Like I said in the defensive midfield portion, I think they need to support the shorties more, and they look a little individualistic at times, but overall, when they are playing their game, they can really suffocate an offense. Also, I'll keep saying it but it really helps to have a groundball vacuum like Bomberry to limit second half opportunities back there.
Grade: B

Goalie: Drake Porter has been very good all year, I'd say his only bad game was the ND game. But other than that he looks calm and confident in net and when he is on he is really tough to score against. I would like the clearing game to be better, and some of this comes down the close defense but I think the goalie is the main orchestrator. For this late in the year the Orange really should be better.
Grade: B+

Final Assessment: So it's pretty solid across the board. Maybe my grading is generous, with no obvious weak points. So why aren't the Orange doing better? I think some of it comes down to bad luck - the UVA game I think would have been won if Phaup stays healthy, Colgate game was mostly mental, etc. I also think SU really needs a unit to be a A+ material, and each unit this year has gone though ups and downs. If they all can play consistent across the board, and someone can step up on offense (I think Curry or Rhefuss has the potential, but they've both gone through cold spells this year), they could really do damage in the NCAAs. But they have to play as a team and can't let up in any area if they really want to accomplish their ultimate goal.
 

ivorytower

2nd String
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Messages
513
Like
520
Thanks Powell, always a good analysis by one of the best. Your season summary and unit grades are objective , based critique delivered without negativity which is refreshing. No unit deserved lower than a B nor were any A's loosely given out though I may have assigned some A minuses. Perhaps a season grade on coaching can be added.

The regular season record of 9-4 is better than most projected and easily could have been even better.

If Colgate was scheduled later as normal then it would have been a resounding win instead of a dumbsss opening loss that still haunts. UVA and UNC games simply should have been closed out ( will get back to those ). If so , Cuse could have been 12-1 ( let's say 11-2 without Duke comeback where we were dormant for 3q ) and perhaps ranked #1-#2 today instead of #10 wondering where we stand for NCAA's.

Some will say rose colored glasses but beyond their one goal victory over Duke , all those second half comeback wins against good teams were by decisive margins. Team stats show an advantage in every category other than a small difference in sog % . This is a good team

The postseason will obviously be a tell tale and the path to a FF will be more difficult than it should have been. Team will need to play a full sixty minutes. No reason to believe the one and done postseason wont bring that out. When teams watch film on us they will see that our losses to UVA and UNC were due to breakdowns defending inverts. Im sure that is being worked on extensively during break as well as some clearing errors.

Say it again about postseason, regardless of seed or not , regardless of home or road.

Respect all, fear none.
 

DoctahLexus

Scout Team
Joined
Jun 8, 2018
Messages
457
Like
623
Always enjoy reading your stuff Powell! Certainly agree that the shooting percentage of the midfield is a downside. This is especially true in the shot clock era when a missed shot does nothing but waste precious time, instead of convincing the refs that you are playing aggressive and making them hold off on the stall call a little longer.

Also agree on the close defense. "Individualistic" is a good word to describe how they look when they are struggling. Not enough effort on slides at times. Cunningham and Mellen often seem to not commit fully to a slide and Bomberry’s lack of speed often shows in sliding situations.

Maybe one slight disagreement would be not giving Mr. Porter some grade with an A at the front. 5th in the nation in save percentage with our schedule the way it is has to boost the man’s GPA. I also think the clear percentage has not been dismal enough to really count against him. But I respect being stingy with the As.
 

Faegan

All Conference
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
2,398
Like
1,846
You forgot Transition and Special Teams. :p Thanks... good write up! I'd probably give Drake an A, but you're spot on.
 
Last edited:

sholokov2

Walk On
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
152
Like
175
Thanks Powell, always a good analysis by one of the best. Your season summary and unit grades are objective , based critique delivered without negativity which is refreshing. No unit deserved lower than a B nor were any A's loosely given out though I may have assigned some A minuses. Perhaps a season grade on coaching can be added.

The regular season record of 9-4 is better than most projected and easily could have been even better.

If Colgate was scheduled later as normal then it would have been a resounding win instead of a dumbsss opening loss that still haunts. UVA and UNC games simply should have been closed out ( will get back to those ). If so , Cuse could have been 12-1 ( let's say 11-2 without Duke comeback where we were dormant for 3q ) and perhaps ranked #1-#2 today instead of #10 wondering where we stand for NCAA's.

Some will say rose colored glasses but beyond their one goal victory over Duke , all those second half comeback wins against good teams were by decisive margins. Team stats show an advantage in every category other than a small difference in sog % . This is a good team

The postseason will obviously be a tell tale and the path to a FF will be more difficult than it should have been. Team will need to play a full sixty minutes. No reason to believe the one and done postseason wont bring that out. When teams watch film on us they will see that our losses to UVA and UNC were due to breakdowns defending inverts. Im sure that is being worked on extensively during break as well as some clearing errors.

Say it again about postseason, regardless of seed or not , regardless of home or road.

Respect all, fear none.
To all who have done a great job analyzing the past season, thanks for your bright and trenchant remarks. Thinking back on all those seasons ending in disappointing results, I recognize themes in many of our past critiques. Poor invert play has been a constant for many of the less than successful years. I believe the foundation of this flaw is poor slides from the low defense and Lsms. Mellen for all his great play does not play well against picks on inverts where the pick is near the post. Slides to his side are often late. I have always wondered if the rest of the d expects too much of him and is not ready to slide hard and quickly.
I believe the team does not pick well on offense. I know Mellen does not usually cover inverted middies, but the same dynamic applies in picks on ssdms. I think the reason inverts work at the end of a game is fatigue among the defensemen. Slides come a second slower and a bit softer. When the team does not play well against them regularly fatigue will be lethal.

Second, I cannot remember an NC winner that has not included at least one superior scorer, A Spencer or Thompson, Sowers or Powell, someone who can rise above the ill winds on the field and lift the team regardless of circumstances. Aitken, Ament are among todays exceptional talents. I'm sure there must be teams who could prove me wrong, yet I believe the principal stands.

No easy fix. Recruit the giants and train pick play. In the coaches shoes, I would have the SU team set multiple picks in every practice scrimmage until the defense feels like it is caught in continuous revolving doors.
 

Top Bottom