Thoughts on SU's draw, the tourney, UNC meltdown...etc

JeremyCuse

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Was meaning to get a few different posts out regarding the UNC meltdown, the tourney speculation and our game against Loyola but as it often does life got in the way so I am going to try and get a long but hopefully all encompassing post together on where we stand and a quick look at our game with Loyola.

First wanted to circle back on the UNC game and that last 6 min or so. I really thought that going into the game that this team was different then the squads of the last few years (they may still be) where it seemed every game became a 1 goal white knuckler. Thats why when SU got up 3 with about 6 or so min left I felt really good about our chances as this team has shown a knack for being able to put teams away late and turning 1 goal games into 4 or 5 goal wins. While I won't go back and watch what happened again from what I can recall a plethora of issues propped up that did us in. The most visible is that SU just got sloppy. The three turnovers in about a minute span were just brutal (Solomon and then Porter X2). UNC went from a slow down grind the clock Bryant type offense to fast pace run and gun and it seemed to take the D by surprise and we suddenly couldn't defend the invert. The D and Phaup looked exhausted down the stretch and when you can't win a face off and the D is tired you get what happened to us. It didn't help that Varello was awful that game and that offensively SU made some real bad decisions down the stretch (shooting with 50 seconds left on the clock with a man up, Lipka's shot with SU down 1 etc). I also thought Desko errored in not calling a TO once UNC closed within 1. Forget holding the 2 tos for the last minute, burn 1 and get the team under control. I also thought we waited way to long to bump Buttermore to the 1st line when it was clear he was on and the 2nd line was mess around him. Desko and Donahue have to adjust quicker and get him bumped to the 1st line, once we did SU scored the very 1st possession. Coaching left a lot to be desired down the stretch.

With that said lets look forward and the opportunity in front of us. Team has come along way since the opening game against Colgate when most of us thought the sky was falling. The 2+ weeks off was less then optimal but it was clear guys like Phaup were not 100% so getting some rest in film time in should have helped. Regarding our seed, I could make a case we should be the 8 seed or playing in the 7 seed game but it what it is. The Colgate and UNC losses pushed way down when we were looking a 5 or 6 seed in the face. Need to come out and respond against Loyola and to this teams credit they have after every other loss this season.

As for the Loyola game I think between this board and the media its pretty clear what the keys are for both teams.

For SU defensively Mellen will draw Spencer and the D is likely to be slow to slide. Most teams have avoided dodging against Mellen one on one this year, in fact I think all of them have. That said I suspect Spencer won't hesitate to give it a go and will be interesting to see if he Dodges from X based on our struggles defending against it versus UVA and UNC. SU will have to be light years better defending inverts and dodging from X. Its been an issue a few times this year and killed us in the 4th quarter against UVA and UNC. Slides were either late, early, non existent or done when one wasn't necessary. Bomberry especially will need to be careful as I believe he will draw Lindley who is a fantastic finisher ala Peterson at Cornell. Bomberry has been money most of the year, going to need him again. I have Cunningham marking Olmstead which will be interesting especially if Loyola inverts him and tried to replicate UNC, Cunningham has struggled to defend dodges from X against superior attackmen so this will be one to watch. From a midfield standpoint SU will clearly put Fusco and Kennedy on Scanlan as he is the major threat from the mid line. Scanlan has had an outstanding if not excellent frosh year. He tends to repeat a lot of moves though and loves to shoot low so I hope Porter has him scouted well. For SU this is a very similar match-up to the Cornell game. Elite attack unit with a decent but not great midfield. Different in this game is that Spencer will be more active in trying to force the issue then Teat and Cornell didn't have a weapon like Scanlan on their 1st mid line. Loyola is pretty good on man up (42%) so we will need to minimize the flags. To me SU simply needs to limit the Loyola attack unit as much as possible if they do that it will force Loyola to rely on a midfield that while decent doesn't have elite talent beyond Scanlan. Loyola's offense has sputtered a bit the last few weeks and can be turnover prone (averaging 15.4 a game) but they can also catch fire. Again a lot like the Cornell game we have to limit any big runs.

From an offensive standpoint SU needs to rebound from a pretty poor performance against UNC. The attack unit has pretty much held its own the last half of the season but the 1st midfield has in my opinion struggled. Trimboli has been the most consistent and has had some big games ie Navy and Hobart but Curry has really struggled down the stretch and Lipka has been averaging about a goal a game but has disappeared for long stretches despite almost always drawing a short stick. Curry needs to be more unselfish and continue to draw slides for dump downs or skip passes. He seems to have hit a bit of a wall the last month or so, just doesn't look like the same player from earlier in the year. The 2nd mid line hasn't been much better beyond Buttermore who has continued an excellent season. Cook looks way out of sorts playing on the midline and is playing to tentative. Quinn has played sparingly and was hurt for a bit. When he has played he has looked OK but hasn't done much scoring. Carlin has struggled this year after a decent Jr year. Had a goal against UNC in the first game but has pretty much been MIA most of the season. At this point I think SU would be wise to bump Magnan full time to the second line and run Magnan Quinn and some combo of Carlin/Cook. I would even consider going to what we had the first few games of the season where SU essentially played the 1st line the entire game and just subbed 1 person at at time. Personally I would play Cook strictly as the 4th attackmen as he has not looked comfortable at midfield at all. Running Buttermore with the 1s so he can get that short stick is key, I hope we see a lot of that tomorrow. Loyola defensively has been better the last few weeks especially Stover who can get white lightning hot but the D in front of Stover has been much less reliable and has really struggled at times giving up 18 goals to BU and 15 to Holy Cross. Voigt has been on an absolute tear most of the year and Loyola will likely be paying a lot of attention to him. I don't know if they will try and copy Navy and UNC and double pole the midfield and put a short stick on him. UNC had some success with it but Navy struggled mightily. Key for me is SU's shot placement and turnovers. I think SU can and will get good looks on a so/so Loyola D that doens't really have a lock down defender or defenders. That could be negated though if SU is throwing the ball around the yard or Stover gets white hot. SU has faced some hot goalies this year so they are tested but we will need to mix things up a bit and place our shots well.

Goal tending appears to be about even if both guys are on, maybe a slight advantage to Stover as his save % is just under an impressive 60%. Both goalies have been excellent all year so I expect both will play well tomorrow. Faceoffs will be interesting as Savio is pretty much it for Loyola so they will live and die on how he performs. The backup FOGO has taken exactly 6 draws the entire year so again its Savio or bust. Phaup as I noted earlier has looked out of sorts since the first UNC game. Not sure if its an injury, or if he's hit the Freshmen wall so to speak having barely played last year or if its just a downturn. Clearly SU needs him to be the guy they saw 75% of the year before the recent downturn. Hopefully the 2 weeks off gets him back on tract after a physical season. Varello is a bit of an enigma and hard to know what we will get from him if Phaup struggles. He was unreal against UNC in the 1st game but really struggled in the rematch and was so/so against Navy. Varello seems to be much more of a matchup guy and is either hot or cold and there isn't a lot of in between performances. Hopefully he is on for Saturday.

In closing Saturday is definitely a tough matchup but your going to run into a game like this in the tourney sooner or later, we just happen to get it right from the get go. Spencer will clearly be the best player on the field at least from an offensive standpoint but SU would appear to have the advantage at most other areas (at least on paper). SU has the better Defense, more depth and more depth at Faceoff and on D, and per some Loyola fans SU is the more athletic team and has more overall speed. Athletic midfields have given Loyola a lot of trouble (see the Duke game) and teams with a lot of speed. To me Curry needs to play a prominent role in this game with Solomon Rehfuss doing a lot of dodging from GLE forcing slides opening things up for Trimbo/Buttermore/Voigt. Both teams comign off dissapointing losses adds extra intrigue especially when you consider how well SU has responded after losses in their history and this year and with Spencer being a Sr and playing in his last home game.

Keys for me are pretty simple:

1. Limit Spencer as much as possible. He hasn't been himself the last month or so according to Loyola fans despite still putting up excellent numbers. He hasn't been as aggressive as he was earlier in the year and has deferred more with so/so results. Mellen is in a tough spot as a guy like Spencer can sometimes just get to another level when their seasons/career are on the brink. He definitely is our best answer but if he struggles and Spencer appears to be going beast mode SU has to be quick to support or give a guy like Kennedy a run who matches up better physically. That said I would role with Mellen as much as possible, hes been outstnading all year and should be a 1st Team AA. Loyola is sort of a hybrid version of Cornell and Virginia. Excellent attack unit and a midfield that is better then Cornells but doesn't have a player as good as Aiken on the 1st mid line even though Scanlan is a very good player. SU has a lot of experience playing against this type of offense which should (fingers crossed) benefit us.

2. Limit turnovers. When SU isn't turning the ball over we usually win. This has been the one area that keeps popping up as an issue along with defending inverts. We have had a few games where we have been excellent with turnovers and were #1 in the country at one point. Again Loyola's D isn't exactly a juggernaut, I would like to see us be at 10 or under for turnovers on Sat.

3. Avoid the slow start. If there was ever a game where SU needs to avoid being down 6-1 at the end of the 1st quarter this is it. We have been better here since the ND game but its still been an issue. In the same vain can't afford Loyola going on 3+ goal runs. Nothing wrong with giving up goals as Loyola is definitely going to score but we can't let them get on long scoring runs.

4. 1st Midfield has to come to play, Period. If Curry, Trimbo, Lipka and to a lesser extent Buttermore play well we should win. Loyola has struggled to defend against good mid lines and SU needs to impose its will here. Curry and Lipka especially have been quiet the last month or so. Its critical that 1st line come to play.

5. Close out strong. I could be way off but this fees like the type of game that whoever is up late will be holding on for dear life. Again SU has been strong here most of the year save for really the UVA and UNC where we blew multi goal leads. Smart play, faceoff wins, using the clock efficiently turnovers etc will all be key.
 
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CuseAlum87

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A few thoughts:
1. I like that the Orange are on the road and away from campus for graduation weekend, it has to be a huge distraction for the seniors with all the different events and family.
2. This isn't a typical Loyola defense, they give up a lot of shots/goals and need Stover to bail them out.
3. Stover is very good, but not great. Holy Cross put 15 by him, G'town 14, and BU 18. The key is to take quality shots not stick side high and continue to shoot.
4. The Orange have advantage at D middie and need to exploit it. Make Loyola's offense one dimensional, make them have to score off the dodge. Spencer and Scanlan will get some points, but keeping Lindley, Olmstead, and Duffy off the score sheet is the way to win.
5. The Orange have a significant advantage at F/O's and need to exploit that to its full potential.

Looking forward to the game and no Sunday rants.
 

CuseNHouse

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Great write up.

We’ve got to get the ball inside here in every way possible. ...If not, Perimeter play could be a problem with Stover.
 

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