UNC Game Preview (4/13/24, 1pm) | Syracusefan.com

UNC Game Preview (4/13/24, 1pm)

Powellfan

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The Orange play in perhaps their biggest game of the year when they travel down to Chapel Hill on Saturday to face the Tar Heels. There are a myriad of story lines for this one, but the most important from an SU perspective is that they can clinch a spot in the ACC tournament with a win. That should be the only focus, though there will be plenty of others (Pat March being out, SU facing old defensive Coordinator Dave Pietramala, etc).

The Tar Heels come into this game with a lot of talent, but also a lot of questions. Owen Duffy leads the offense, and he is a very good player with extremely quick wrists and ankle breaking speed, but he leads the team with an absurd 117 shots. Next closes on the team in Dom Pietramala with 99. Combined they are only shooting 25%. Logan McGovern is their rock on offense, he is second on the team with 43 points, on almost half as many shots (58) as Duffy (49 points). I think it will be interesting to see who covers who in this game - I imagine it will be Figuerias on Duffy, Dwan on McGovern and Kol/Caccamo on Petro. I think SU should have the edge here, but Duffy is tricky. Also McGovern scored 12 points against SU in just two games last year.

I haven't watched a ton of UNC this year, but online criticism has centered on their offense looking like a club team (I think this is reference to Duffy getting so many shots). Their midfield seems to be a bit of a mess, with the highest scorer having just 13 points (James Matan). The group is mostly made up of natural attackmen (Matan, Dewey Egan, Lance Tillman). That said, SU hasn't had a good defensive performance against UNC in a long time, and a lot of these guys have given SU problems in the past. This past weekend it seemed like UVA was sliding quite a bit against UNC, which led to some open looks but the Heels couldn't take advantage of. I think if SU can rattle UNC early with some quick aggressive slides, that might make the Heels jumpy.

Where UNC has the biggest advantage is at the face-off x. Freshman Brady Wambach has been a stud all year long, winning 63% of his draws. The only game he's struggled in was strangely against High Point (UNC loss) when he went 4-13. The Heels have a good backup option as well in Andrew Tyeryar (also 63% with 80 less face-offs). SU will really need a strong game from Mason Kohn and Johhny Mullen. Kohn looked strong against Cornell, but Mullen struggled going just 3-10. 10 days off should help the group, and Wambach is coming off a game vs UVA, which usually leaves one a bit battered.

Obviously the offensive side of the field should be interesting to watch, for SU. They go against Petro, who should have an idea of their tendencies, but Gait should also know his as well. Having March out for this contest is a blow, but Gait will have a week and a half to prepare. Hopefully the offense is motivated and ready to go after their power outage against Cornell in the second half. Good news is Joey Spallina looked back to his old ways against the Big Red after having a little mid season scoring slump. I don't think UNC has a pole that can take him out of the game in the same way other top teams do. Also, other good news for SU is that Colin Krieg seems to be struggling a bit this year, with a save percentage below 50%.

Last bit, but SU did not do a good job on clears against Cornell. Who is in charge of clears for SU? That's Pat March, who is suspended. Hopefully this is something John Odiera can fill in for, but felt the need to point this out.

Wrapping things up, this is a game that SU should of course win. The worries are of course the face-off x, Pat March being out, and this teams mindset after a deflating loss against Cornell. This game should tell us a lot about where this team stands. If they come out lackadaisical and let UNC hang around, then it's time to hit the panic button. Hopefully they come out strong, and frankly put away the Heels early. They need to impose their will here and show everyone who the better team is. Also, they need to keep their heads on straight - body language will be a bit thing for me in this one. Keep the yapping to a minimum and focus on putting the ball in the back of the net. No retreat baby, no surrender. GO SU.
 
The Orange play in perhaps their biggest game of the year when they travel down to Chapel Hill on Saturday to face the Tar Heels. There are a myriad of story lines for this one, but the most important from an SU perspective is that they can clinch a spot in the ACC tournament with a win. That should be the only focus, though there will be plenty of others (Pat March being out, SU facing old defensive Coordinator Dave Pietramala, etc).

The Tar Heels come into this game with a lot of talent, but also a lot of questions. Owen Duffy leads the offense, and he is a very good player with extremely quick wrists and ankle breaking speed, but he leads the team with an absurd 117 shots. Next closes on the team in Dom Pietramala with 99. Combined they are only shooting 25%. Logan McGovern is their rock on offense, he is second on the team with 43 points, on almost half as many shots (58) as Duffy (49 points). I think it will be interesting to see who covers who in this game - I imagine it will be Figuerias on Duffy, Dwan on McGovern and Kol/Caccamo on Petro. I think SU should have the edge here, but Duffy is tricky. Also McGovern scored 12 points against SU in just two games last year.

I haven't watched a ton of UNC this year, but online criticism has centered on their offense looking like a club team (I think this is reference to Duffy getting so many shots). Their midfield seems to be a bit of a mess, with the highest scorer having just 13 points (James Matan). The group is mostly made up of natural attackmen (Matan, Dewey Egan, Lance Tillman). That said, SU hasn't had a good defensive performance against UNC in a long time, and a lot of these guys have given SU problems in the past. This past weekend it seemed like UVA was sliding quite a bit against UNC, which led to some open looks but the Heels couldn't take advantage of. I think if SU can rattle UNC early with some quick aggressive slides, that might make the Heels jumpy.

Where UNC has the biggest advantage is at the face-off x. Freshman Brady Wambach has been a stud all year long, winning 63% of his draws. The only game he's struggled in was strangely against High Point (UNC loss) when he went 4-13. The Heels have a good backup option as well in Andrew Tyeryar (also 63% with 80 less face-offs). SU will really need a strong game from Mason Kohn and Johhny Mullen. Kohn looked strong against Cornell, but Mullen struggled going just 3-10. 10 days off should help the group, and Wambach is coming off a game vs UVA, which usually leaves one a bit battered.

Obviously the offensive side of the field should be interesting to watch, for SU. They go against Petro, who should have an idea of their tendencies, but Gait should also know his as well. Having March out for this contest is a blow, but Gait will have a week and a half to prepare. Hopefully the offense is motivated and ready to go after their power outage against Cornell in the second half. Good news is Joey Spallina looked back to his old ways against the Big Red after having a little mid season scoring slump. I don't think UNC has a pole that can take him out of the game in the same way other top teams do. Also, other good news for SU is that Colin Krieg seems to be struggling a bit this year, with a save percentage below 50%.

Last bit, but SU did not do a good job on clears against Cornell. Who is in charge of clears for SU? That's Pat March, who is suspended. Hopefully this is something John Odiera can fill in for, but felt the need to point this out.

Wrapping things up, this is a game that SU should of course win. The worries are of course the face-off x, Pat March being out, and this teams mindset after a deflating loss against Cornell. This game should tell us a lot about where this team stands. If they come out lackadaisical and let UNC hang around, then it's time to hit the panic button. Hopefully they come out strong, and frankly put away the Heels early. They need to impose their will here and show everyone who the better team is. Also, they need to keep their heads on straight - body language will be a bit thing for me in this one. Keep the yapping to a minimum and focus on putting the ball in the back of the net. No retreat baby, no surrender. GO SU.

Will have some additional thoughts later but to me this is the Hopkins game part 2. You have to win, period. That said there are some concerns on this game I'll note in my follow up points.
 
We know for a fact that Pat March is in charge of clears? Seems odd since that mainly involves defensive players. Is that a confirmed thing?
 
We know for a fact that Pat March is in charge of clears? Seems odd since that mainly involves defensive players. Is that a confirmed thing?

I believe that's what Gait says in this interview -

 
UNC looked completely outmatched against UVA this past Saturday. If UNC played UVA 10 times, UVA is winning 10 times. If we can't pull this weekend out this weekend we can only hope that the NCAA starts a NIT tournament for lacrosse.
 
Odierna coached the clear his entire career at Manhattan. Specialized in breaking the 10-man (many teams in lower tier D1 10-man ride). Should be fine there, might actually be an improvement.

UNC has a pretty weak midfield, which is a massive advantage for the orange defense that lacks defensive midfield depth.

Gait has an opportunity to prove to the naysayers that he is not just a CEO and can coach the X’s and O’s in the men’s game. If he can out-duel Petro (who will be throwing the kitchen sink) then we should win handily. If things go south… we won’t go there.

Overall, I am feeling good about this game matchup wise.
 
Petro did seem to have some of his best games against his old school when he was DC for us. We help Hopkins to low goal totals both of those years. Don’t think it will be a cakewalk on that end, March or no March. But the defense will have a much easier opponent than the last couple from both a dodging and ball movement perspective. Hoping we get some stops on that end that lead to some goals going the other way.
 
the biggest thing in way for cuse win over unc is cuse. They have more talent have showed can play with bout anyone but also showed they can single hand lose the game themslves. It all comes down to cuse players and how they play and how focus motivated while having to want it way way way more than unc. Unc is not gonna just lay down n let us cruz. Syracuse has to stop with trash(taunt) talk unless it’s by scoring goals and shuting down on D and get wins. Let that be ur trash talk and can do it without even say one word. Thompson has to bury any open look he gets hiltz needs to stay completely engaged and have drive while being smart no bad turnovers(hustle also). Mule has to hit his mid range shots and destroy any shortie put on him. Birt has to start getting himself more involved and taking his man. Roha and leo need to not only continue what they done so well but now kick it up a gear. English needs to get somewhat of a left hand or just dodge down left alley(if back toward net) so not running a mile beating no one cause know exactly where he’s going which is right. Stevens keep being huge on wings n start dodging himself not leaving his stick out so much(english also with this) . This is it time to grow up and prove haters wrong and show everyone else what us cuse fans already know. We are force to be reckoned with! Let’s go orange !
 
The Orange play in perhaps their biggest game of the year when they travel down to Chapel Hill on Saturday to face the Tar Heels. There are a myriad of story lines for this one, but the most important from an SU perspective is that they can clinch a spot in the ACC tournament with a win. That should be the only focus, though there will be plenty of others (Pat March being out, SU facing old defensive Coordinator Dave Pietramala, etc).

The Tar Heels come into this game with a lot of talent, but also a lot of questions. Owen Duffy leads the offense, and he is a very good player with extremely quick wrists and ankle breaking speed, but he leads the team with an absurd 117 shots. Next closes on the team in Dom Pietramala with 99. Combined they are only shooting 25%. Logan McGovern is their rock on offense, he is second on the team with 43 points, on almost half as many shots (58) as Duffy (49 points). I think it will be interesting to see who covers who in this game - I imagine it will be Figuerias on Duffy, Dwan on McGovern and Kol/Caccamo on Petro. I think SU should have the edge here, but Duffy is tricky. Also McGovern scored 12 points against SU in just two games last year.

I haven't watched a ton of UNC this year, but online criticism has centered on their offense looking like a club team (I think this is reference to Duffy getting so many shots). Their midfield seems to be a bit of a mess, with the highest scorer having just 13 points (James Matan). The group is mostly made up of natural attackmen (Matan, Dewey Egan, Lance Tillman). That said, SU hasn't had a good defensive performance against UNC in a long time, and a lot of these guys have given SU problems in the past. This past weekend it seemed like UVA was sliding quite a bit against UNC, which led to some open looks but the Heels couldn't take advantage of. I think if SU can rattle UNC early with some quick aggressive slides, that might make the Heels jumpy.

Where UNC has the biggest advantage is at the face-off x. Freshman Brady Wambach has been a stud all year long, winning 63% of his draws. The only game he's struggled in was strangely against High Point (UNC loss) when he went 4-13. The Heels have a good backup option as well in Andrew Tyeryar (also 63% with 80 less face-offs). SU will really need a strong game from Mason Kohn and Johhny Mullen. Kohn looked strong against Cornell, but Mullen struggled going just 3-10. 10 days off should help the group, and Wambach is coming off a game vs UVA, which usually leaves one a bit battered.

Obviously the offensive side of the field should be interesting to watch, for SU. They go against Petro, who should have an idea of their tendencies, but Gait should also know his as well. Having March out for this contest is a blow, but Gait will have a week and a half to prepare. Hopefully the offense is motivated and ready to go after their power outage against Cornell in the second half. Good news is Joey Spallina looked back to his old ways against the Big Red after having a little mid season scoring slump. I don't think UNC has a pole that can take him out of the game in the same way other top teams do. Also, other good news for SU is that Colin Krieg seems to be struggling a bit this year, with a save percentage below 50%.

Last bit, but SU did not do a good job on clears against Cornell. Who is in charge of clears for SU? That's Pat March, who is suspended. Hopefully this is something John Odiera can fill in for, but felt the need to point this out.

Wrapping things up, this is a game that SU should of course win. The worries are of course the face-off x, Pat March being out, and this teams mindset after a deflating loss against Cornell. This game should tell us a lot about where this team stands. If they come out lackadaisical and let UNC hang around, then it's time to hit the panic button. Hopefully they come out strong, and frankly put away the Heels early. They need to impose their will here and show everyone who the better team is. Also, they need to keep their heads on straight - body language will be a bit thing for me in this one. Keep the yapping to a minimum and focus on putting the ball in the back of the net. No retreat baby, no surrender. GO SU.

Excellent job as usual, think you did a good job breaking down the matchups so I'll try and give some additional thoughts outside that.

I will say that I think the defensive matchups are a bit unclear here. McGovern is the one QB type guy out there but Duffy and Petro are dominating the shots. I wonder if SU goes with Dwan on Duffy and Fig on McGovern and then Kol/Caccamo on Petro. My bigger concern is that the D has really struggled to stop the "known" guys the last few games. Yes Kirst and Long did a lot of damage in transition and man up (Long especially) but if you look at the Hobart game, their two top guys in Patterson and Datellas did a bunch of damage and the same thing happened vs Cornell. SU was better against ND and the Kavanaughs but we can't afford for Duffy and Petro to have 10 pts combined much less a repeat of Longs who had10 on his own.

My overall biggest issue is that this team showed me the flaws vs Cornell that we saw the first 2 years under Gait that I had hoped we had gotten past. Undisciplined play, bizarre decisions (stalling 5 on 5 so they could get 20+ seconds on a man up and then have to take a panicked shot because the shot clock was gone), complete inability to solve a 10 man ride despite it being a major problem 2 years ago, last year and earlier this season, and just an overall inability to avoid turnovers when they simply can't happen (nursing a 1 goal lead late or in OT or when a team puts up a remote fight on the ride.

Syracuse is better then UNC and its a game they should win. I also thought the same vs Cornell vs Army etc. The good news is when the team was in a must win situation earlier in the year the team responded Hop in a neutral site game. The downside for Sat is that I am not sure the staff or team will learn from the mistakes last week. It's tough to say that but in year 3 under Gait we shouldn't be having multiple unsportsmanlike penalties letting Cornell backing in the game and another costing SU 2 mins of locked in 6 on 5. The officiating was also horrendous but you can't have 9 mins of penalties or whatever it was and your OC getting tossed in the 1st quarter.

I also can't get over that in year 3 we still look like we've never seen a 10 man ride before and just continue to play right into it by either passing into the sideline/sub box or trying to go 1 on 3 right up the middle. I know practicing against a 10 man isn't a major priority to start the year in January, but its April and we still look lost, at what point are we going to address this? Petro's not a huge 10 man guy but I suspect we will see it early and often Sat and I fear it will go as well as it did last year against UNC.

I don't mean to sound overly down on this team because their are a lot of positives, Kohn had a great bounce back game, Mark had a bunch of ridiculous saves, Stevens getting those 2 gbs in OT off the faceoff were huge and the O had an incredible 1st half. That said undisciplined play, turnovers, and has Quint astutely pointed out today in his article poise and game management have been issues that have haunted this team all year and a lot of that I put back on Gait and the staff. As DMVCuse pointed out this team offensively at times can't tell the different from up 6-1 over ALbany in the 1st quarter to up 1 with 3min left vs Cornell. I don't need a btb pass to Thomson who then has to try a twister shot. How about just putting the ball in the back of the net?

UNC has struggled against most top 10 teams defenses save for Army and I think were seeing that Army has a lot more issues then initially thought. Wombach the kid from upstate (who nearly went to SU) will definitely be a problem but SU even at its worse has been closed to 50% at the X against the best of the best so I think we should be able to battle close to 50%. Biggest issue is as Powell noted how does this team come out? Is it clear they want to atone for the Cornell debale or is it more of the 2nd half of that game where the play is sloppy, were turning the ball over left and right and we look disinterested. If you wanna be treated like a top 5 team I think this is a game where you need to see SU hitting on all cylinders winning similarly to how UVA did last week. Getting down 5-2 early in the 2nd quarter or getting up 6-1 and then before you know it's 6-6 and that sloppy play is back to me is a real bad sign on where the team is at right now . SU can clinch not only an ACC tourney appearance Sat but most likely an NCAA tourney appearance with a win. It's year 3 of the rebuild, no more excuses, get the W.
 
Coaches show on now. The guy leading it brought up the issues with clearing and Gait demurred a bit and said it had been pretty good up to the last quarter (not exactly accurate). Confirmed March was in charge of clearing but Odierna has taken over for this week. Was contemplating calling in to ask about this but that's probably all were gonna get out of him.
 
Of course SU needs to win tomorrow but they need to do it impressively... not just by squeaking by. They need to regain team mojo/confidence after the Cornell mess and finish in strong fashion vs UVa and heading into ACC Tourney.
 
Coaches show on now. The guy leading it brought up the issues with clearing and Gait demurred a bit and said it had been pretty good up to the last quarter (not exactly accurate). Confirmed March was in charge of clearing but Odierna has taken over for this week. Was contemplating calling in to ask about this but that's probably all were gonna get out of him.
Believe we only missed one clear a quarter for the first three, so not too terrible to start. 4-7 clearing in the 4th was the killer. Would say that is fairly accurate from Gait. Interesting that March handles clearing now since that mainly involves defensive players. I thought that was maybe one of Petros tasks last year.
 
Believe we only missed one clear a quarter for the first three, so not too terrible to start. 4-7 clearing in the 4th was the killer. Would say that is fairly accurate from Gait. Interesting that March handles clearing now since that mainly involves defensive players. I thought that was maybe one of Petros tasks last year.

I should clarify I was talking about overall versus a tough ride/10 man, it's been an issue since gait took over. The team is fine against teams who don't really ride so they don't usually just throw the ball around (save for a few bad quarters here or there) but against a 10 man or team that rides hard SU has struggled immensely.
 
I should clarify I was talking about overall versus a tough ride/10 man, it's been an issue since gait took over. The team is fine against teams who don't really ride so they don't usually just throw the ball around (save for a few bad quarters here or there) but against a 10 man or team that rides hard SU has struggled immensely.
This season seems particularly bad. Did not think it was a huge issue last season, granted there were a couple issues at crucial times in certain games. But we cleared it better than most teams in the country last season. Not sure what changed this year since we have overall way better athletes in the middle of the field. But it is a bigger issue this season that is for sure.
 
This season seems particularly bad. Did not think it was a huge issue last season, granted there were a couple issues at crucial times in certain games. But we cleared it better than most teams in the country last season. Not sure what changed this year since we have overall way better athletes in the middle of the field. But it is a bigger issue this season that is for sure.

Against regular rides they are usually fine for the most part but the 10 man has baffled them under Gait since he got here. It got lost in the win but if you recall that second UNC game last year SU had such a struggle against the 10 man in the first half you wanted to jump through the TV, it was absolutely abysmal. This year they haven't seen it a ton luckily but the few times they have - Gate, ND for stretches and Cornell in the 4th quarter the team just loses its mind. SU saw it against Vermont for a few possessions and played it almost flawlessly including taking a long shot to break the ride. We haven't tried that since which I cant fathom why. I am hopeful the 11 days off and Odierna in charge means a major change is coming but its also year 3 at some point it becomes a fatal flaw like Dino babers and clock management.
 
This could be a blessing in disguise. Odierna ran the clear at Manhattan and was 92% last year. That would rank as 3rd overall in the NCAA right now. His team's clearing percentage was also over 90% in 2022 and 2023, excellent numbers. And those percentages are in the MAAC with multiple teams that run gimmicky and aggressive 10-man rides.

In comparison, March's Princeton Tigers cleared at 82% in 2017, 82% in 2018, and 86% in 2019.

Since taking over the clear at 'Cuse after Donahue's departure, the team cleared at 84% in 2021, 86% in 2022, 89% in 2023, and 88% this year. Not bad... but I am excited for the potential upgrade that Odierna can give us in the clear this week and moving forward.

I was honestly shocked when I found out Odierna was not running the clear at 'Cuse, as he has given clearing presentations at coaching conferences before, and is seen by many as a savant when it comes to coaching the clear.
 
This could be a blessing in disguise. Odierna ran the clear at Manhattan and was 92% last year. That would rank as 3rd overall in the NCAA right now. His team's clearing percentage was also over 90% in 2022 and 2023, excellent numbers. And those percentages are in the MAAC with multiple teams that run gimmicky and aggressive 10-man rides.

In comparison, March's Princeton Tigers cleared at 82% in 2017, 82% in 2018, and 86% in 2019.

Since taking over the clear at 'Cuse after Donahue's departure, the team cleared at 84% in 2021, 86% in 2022, 89% in 2023, and 88% this year. Not bad... but I am excited for the potential upgrade that Odierna can give us in the clear this week and moving forward.

I was honestly shocked when I found out Odierna was not running the clear at 'Cuse, as he has given clearing presentations at coaching conferences before, and is seen by many as a savant when it comes to coaching the clear.

He apparently runs the ride, as you noted it's kind of shocking he's not in charge of clearing based on his history. Interested to see if we see any new wrinkles
 
In spite of all the horrible moments in the Cornell game, it is worth remembering that we turn the ball over less than most teams in the country. We are currently 13th in the nation for lowest turnovers per game. Last year we were 2nd or third. Cornell game is an outlier on the season. Our other losses were battles to the finish where we held our own. Cornell is the only one we let slip away from a position where the odds clearly favored us winning. This team is not particularly sloppy when it comes to turnovers and the stats show that.

Think our big issue on the season has been either bad shooting/finishing or just impatient shooting early in the shot clock when a better look is coming later. That has held us back more this season than just plain sloppiness. Those do not show up as turnovers but they are just as costly. Stevens English and others have struggled with outside shooting. Thomson and others have struggled with finishing inside. Despite all the slop, in the end not capitalizing on our shots in the second half is what cost us the game against Cornell, because the quality looks were still there for the most part. I am not worried about Gait running things in game with March fully involved in prep (and surely motivated to get it right since he won’t be at the game).

Just need to go out and prove that game does not define us. We are right back on track with a win tomorrow.
 
In spite of all the horrible moments in the Cornell game, it is worth remembering that we turn the ball over less than most teams in the country. We are currently 13th in the nation for lowest turnovers per game. Last year we were 2nd or third. Cornell game is an outlier on the season. Our other losses were battles to the finish where we held our own. Cornell is the only one we let slip away from a position where the odds clearly favored us winning. This team is not particularly sloppy when it comes to turnovers and the stats show that.

Think our big issue on the season has been either bad shooting/finishing or just impatient shooting early in the shot clock when a better look is coming later. That has held us back more this season than just plain sloppiness. Those do not show up as turnovers but they are just as costly. Stevens English and others have struggled with outside shooting. Thomson and others have struggled with finishing inside. Despite all the slop, in the end not capitalizing on our shots in the second half is what cost us the game against Cornell, because the quality looks were still there for the most part. I am not worried about Gait running things in game with March fully involved in prep (and surely motivated to get it right since he won’t be at the game).

Just need to go out and prove that game does not define us. We are right back on track with a win tomorrow.

I think you have to make a distinction between teams who ride hard or use a 10 man versus teams like Duke and Maryland who don't ride much if at all.

When you look at it from that standpoint the stats do show SU is sloppy with the ball against teams who force the issue and Cornell was definitely no outlier.

Against the teams who ride hard or run a 10 man - Colgate, Hopkins, ND and Cornell, SU turned the ball over as follows:

Colgate - 21
Hopkins - 16
ND - 20
Cornell - 20

That's an average of 19.25 turnovers a game and I am not even including the Utah game where they turned it over 18 times where Utah ran a tough ride due to the bizarre start time.

I do agree that the struggles with shooting and finishing has been a bigger overall problem but as I've noted probably a few dozen times this year this team continues to be a hot mess against any team who rides hard or runs a 10 man and were going to see both the last two games.
 

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