Intro To Lacrosse, Part II: How Michigan's Roster Stacks Up

Intro To Lacrosse, Part II: How Michigan's Roster Stacks Up

Submitted by Brooks on June 23rd, 2011 at 12:09 PM

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(photo courtesy of mgobluelacrosse.com)

It’s time for Part II of my Introduction to Lacrosse Recruiting.  In this section, I will compare Michigan’s roster to some of the top programs in Division 1 Lacrosse.

Before we get into Michigan’s roster, I will explain the data that I tried to track with all of the rosters. First, I tracked the number of Inside Lacrosse Top 100 players (lacrosse&rsquao;s equivalent of the Rivals 250). The other piece of data I kept track of, for lack of a better term, is the “pedigree” of the players by following their location and whether or not their high school is listed on Laxpower.com’s Top 100 High Schools for 2011 (the BCS rankings of high school lacrosse, Laxpower uses a formula to rank all 3,000+ high schools that play lax in the country from #1-#3,000. It has yet to state why it is better than a playoff). As the comments from my last post showed, the lacrosse community assumes that only the top-ranked national high schools produce D1-level players, and the only players on these top college teams are from the four major hotbeds (New York, Maryland/DC, New Jersey, Pennsylvania). 

My hope is that we can see whether or not these locations and schools actually produce D1 talent in the numbers most people assume. That will give us a sense of how long it will take Michigan become a nationally competitive lacrosse program.

I know I should have averaged out the last 4 years of Laxpower ratings rather than just taking one year seemingly at random, but at the end of the day all national rankings are based mostly on reputation so there is not great variance in who is in the Top 100 year after year. This is an opening analysis, so if anyone wants to make it more precise, I’d love to read what you find.

Michigan Roster Analysis

I started with Michigan’s roster from 2007, the year before they won their first national title, and ended with the 2011 roster.  In terms of location, here is where Michigan has drawn their players from over the past five years:

State

'07

%

'08

%

'09

%

'10

%

'11

%

MI

17

43.5

19

48.7

17

43.5

13

28.2

14

35

NY

6

15.3

4

10.2

4

10.2

5

10.8

1

2.5

NJ

6

15.3

4

10.2

4

10.2

4

8.7

2

5

MD

3

7.7

3

7.7

2

5.1

3

6.5

4

10

PA

 

 

1

2.5

1

2.5

1

2.1

2

5

CT

 

 

2

5.1

1

2.5

2

4.3

3

7.5

MA

 

 

1

2.5

1

2.5

2

4.3

1

2.5

VA

1

2.5

 

 

1

2.5

2

4.3

 

 

IL

3

7.7

1

2.5

2

5.1

4

8.7

1

2.5

CO

1

2.5

2

5.1

2

5.1

1

2.1

1

2.5

FL

 

 

 

 

1

2.5

1

2.1

1

2.5

DC

 

 

 

 

1

2.5

1

2.1

1

2.5

KY

1

2.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MO

1

2.5

1

2.5

1

2.5

 

 

 

 

CA

 

 

1

2.5

1

2.5

3

6.5

2

5

OH

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

4.3

3

7.5

MN

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

2.1

1

2.5

UT

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

2.1

1

2.5

TX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

2.5

Michigan’s roster has changed over the last five years as they became an MCLA juggernaut. The number of Michigan kids on the roster has dropped from a near majority in 2008 (nearly 49%) to a mere plurality this past season (35%). It has increased its draw from 9 states to 15 in 2011, which shows that the team’s name recognition increased as the team began winning MCLA titles.

The team has remained heavily dependent upon players from the Midwest. In 2007, the team had 21 players from the Midwest—almost 54% of the roster; in 2011, it had 21 players—51% of the roster. The East Coast representation has dropped slightly in this stretch, starting at 16 players (40%) and ending with 14 (35%). The remnants come from the South and the West.

Michigan has never signed an Inside Lacrosse Top 100 player, which should not be a surprise since it wasn’t a varsity team. In 2007 the team had 3 players from Top 50 high schools and 8 from the Top 100; 2008 had 3 Top 50 high schools, 8 Top 100; 2009 had 5 Top 50 and 10 Top 100; 2010 had 4 Top 50 and 9 Top 100; and in 2011 the team had 2 Top 50 high schools and 6 Top 100 high schools represented. On average, that comes out to 3.4 kids out of Top 50 high schools each season and 8.2 kids out of Top 100 high schools on the roster each season.

How Michigan Stacks Up Nationally

I chose eight schools to compare with Michigan’s roster. Here’s how I chose them (I will look at Michigan's conference, the ECAC, in my next entry):

  • Virginia, Maryland, Duke, Denver: The 2011 Final Four participants. Since that’s the ultimate goal for any program, those are the teams we want to compare ourselves to first
  • Cornell, Syracuse: They were the #1 and #2 seeds in the NCAA tournament, and champions of two of the toughest conferences in lacrosse (Ivy and Big East). They missed the Final Four, but were the class of lacrosse for most of the season
  • Johns Hopkins: They are the Notre Dame [Ed-M: ... when ND was relevant] of lacrosse. This year they were the #3 seed in the NCAA tournament. They have the most wins in lacrosse history and the most Final Fours even though they are not affiliated with a conference
  • Notre Dame: They were #1 for a good portion of the season, came in second in the Big East, and were NCAA runner ups in 2010. Also, they happen to be the closest to Ann Arbor in terms of location and were the last BCS school to add lacrosse (in 1981)
  • It also happens that these teams are ranked #1-8 in Inside Lacrosse’s way-too-early 2012 Preseason Poll.

Not infallible, but I hope you see the rationale.  On to the breakdown!

Virginia

2011: 13-5 (National Champions)
2012 Preseason: #1
Inside Lacrosse Top 50 Young Guns on Roster: 30
Top 50/100 High School Graduates on Roster: 11 Top 50/18 Top 100
2010 Recruiting Class Rank: #4

Roster breakdown:

State

Number of Players

% of Roster

New York

9

21.9

Maryland

8

19.5

New Jersey

4

9.7

Virginia

4

9.7

Ontario

3

7.3

Connecticut

2

4.8

Pennsylvania

2

4.8

Massachusetts

2

4.8

Florida

1

2.4

Illinois

1

2.4

Rhode Island

1

2.4

California

1

2.4

North Carolina

1

2.4

Delaware

1

2.4

New Hampshire

1

2.4

 

Maryland

2011: 14-4 (NCAA Runner-Up, ACC Tournament Champion)
2012 Preseason: #7
Inside Lacrosse Young Guns Roster: 27
Top 50/100 High School Graduates on Roster: 9/19
2010 Recruiting Class Rank: #3

Roster breakdown:

State

Number of Players

% of Roster

Maryland

23

46.9

New York

6

14.6

Pennsylvania

5

10.2

Virginia

3

6.1

New Jersey

2

4

Florida

2

4

Ohio

2

4

Washington

2

4

Connecticut

1

2

Michigan

1

2

Massachusetts

1

2

North Carolina

1

2

Duke

2011: 14-5 (NCAA Final Four, ACC Runner Up)
2012 Preseason Rank: #3
Inside Lacrosse Young Guns on Roster: 20
Top 50/100 High School Graduates on Roster: 13/20
2010 Recruiting Class Rank: 5

Roster Breakdown:

State

Number of Players

% of Roster

New York

12

29.2

Maryland

5

12.1

Pennsylvania

5

12.1

Connecticut

5

12.1

Massachusetts

4

9.7

New Jersey

3

7.3

New Hampshire

2

4.8

Ohio

1

2.4

Alberta

1

2.4

Texas

1

2.4

California

1

2.4

North Carolina

1

2.4

One thing to note about the number of Young Guns on Duke: Their program took a big hit after the infamous “Duke Lacrosse Party/Sexual Incident/Legal Clusterfuck” of 2006. The program was suspended for a year, an entire senior class was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA, and a new coach was brought in. Not surprisingly, that led to a junior class (class of 2008) that only had 2 Top 100 players. Expect a big bounce back in that number over the next 2 years for Duke.

Denver

2011: 16-2 (NCAA Final Four, ECAC Champ)
2012 Preseason: #4
Inside Lacrosse Young Guns on Roster: 8
Top 50/100 High School Graduates on Roster: 12/17
2010 Recruiting Class: Not ranked (so below 20)

State

Number of Players

% of Roster

Colorado

9

20.9

Connecticut

6

13.9

Maryland

4

9.3

New Jersey

4

9.3

Ontario

3

6.9

Massachusetts

2

4.6

California

2

4.6

Rhode Island

2

4.6

Washington DC

1

2.3

Illinois

1

2.3

Minnesota

1

2.3

Kentucky

1

2.3

Arizona

1

2.3

British Columbia

1

2.3

Washington

1

2.3

Missouri

1

2.3

Florida

1

2.3

Ohio

1

2.3

Oregon

1

2.3

Denver is an interesting case. They came out of nowhere this year to make the Final Four (they have made the NCAA before, but never before had it made it to the Final Four). They are in a strange location as they are the Westernmost D1 school. The closest school to them in terms of distance is Notre Dame [edit: unless you forget to count Air Force. So, one of two teams in Colorado and west of Notre Dame. Thanks for the catch, Tim], so they are on a bit of an Island.

On top of that, they are in their second year under the helm of legendary coach Bill Tierney.  Tierney won 6 NCAA titles at Princeton before moving to Denver, so this would be the equivalent of Mack Brown leaving Texas to lead Villanova to the FBS. Tierney has said he thinks Colorado is a tremendous recruiting area, so it has more in-state talent than outsiders probably think. Interesting from a Michigan prospective since it shows how you can win from a new location, but also not relevant since we don’t have a Hall of Fame coach that is a living recruiting legend coming in to take the helm (not a shot at John Paul, just a fact).

Syracuse

2011:  15-2 (NCAA Quarterfinalist, Big East Champion)
2012 Preseason: #8
Inside Lacrosse Young Guns on Roster: 29
Top 50/100 High School Graduates on Roster: 11/15
2010 Recruiting Class: #2

State

Number of Players

% of Roster

New York

28

56

New Jersey

5

10

Virginia

3

6

Connecticut

3

6

Ohio

3

6

Massachusetts

2

4

Illinois

1

2

Maryland

1

2

Pennsylvania

1

2

Ontario

1

2

Oregon

1

2

Colorado

1

2

New Hampshire

1

2

Cornell

2011: 14-3 (NCAA Quarterfinalist, Ivy League Champion)
2012 Preseason: #2
Inside Lacrosse Young Guns on Roster: 7
Top 50/100 High School Graduates on Roster: 9/17
2010 Recruiting Class: #12

State

Number of Players

% of Roster

New York

18

42.8

Ontario

6

14.2

Massachusetts

4

9.5

Pennsylvania

2

4.6

Washington

2

4.6

California

2

4.6

Virginia

1

2.3

Maryland

1

2.3

Delaware

1

2.3

Rhode Island

1

2.3

British Columbia

1

2.3

Texas

1

2.3

Connecticut

1

2.3

Washington DC

1

2.3

Johns Hopkins

2011: 13-3 (NCAA Quarterfinalist)
2012 Preseason: #5
Inside Lacrosse Young Guns on Roster: 26
Top 50/100 High School Graduates on Roster: 10/22
2010 Recruiting Class: 6

State

Number on Roster

% of Roster

Maryland

10

23.2

New York

9

20.9

Pennsylvania

5

11.6

New Jersey

5

11.6

Ohio

3

6.9

Arizona

2

4.6

Ontario

2

4.6

Florida

2

4.6

Rhode Island

1

2.3

Massachusetts

1

2.3

Minnesota

1

2.3

Michigan

1

2.3

Texas

1

2.3

Notre Dame

2011: 11-3(NCAA Quarterfinalist, Big East Runner Up)
2012 Preseason: #6
Inside Lacrosse Young Guns on Roster: 16
Top 50/100 High School Graduates on Roster: 13/22
2010 Recruiting Class: #11

State

Number of Players

% of Roster

Maryland

12

24.4

New York

8

16.3

New Jersey

6

12.6

Pennsylvania

5

10.2

Connecticut

4

8.1

Virginia

3

6.1

Massachusetts

2

4

Ohio

2

4

Georgia

1

2

Michigan

1

2

California

1

2

North Carolina

1

2

Texas

1

2

Illinois

1

2

Florida

1

2

Chart Overload and Feeling Overwhelmed, So What Does This All Mean?

We can see a couple of trends appear in the makeup of these teams. It turns out that the conventional wisdom is accurate: an overwhelming number of players on the top D1 teams in the country come from the Mid-Atlantic hotbeds. These 8 rosters included a total of 358 players. 25% of all the players on these Top 8 rosters are from New York. 18% of players on these rosters are Marylandians. Those two states alone constitute more than 40% of all top level college players. New Jersey (8%) and Pennsylvania (7%), not surprisingly, check in as the third and fourth most represented states, respectively. The hotbeds represent almost 60% of the players on these rosters. Extreme outlier Denver is the only program that does not have a majority of players from the hotbed.

We also see trends in what schools these players are getting recruited out of. Every school has at least 9 players on its roster from the current Laxpower Top 50 high schools; every school has at least 15 players from Top 100 high schools. The average number for these programs is 10.8 players from Top 50 high schools, and 18.5 players from Top 100 high schools. These schools carry 40-50 players on the roster, so between 20-25% of the roster is composed of players from these Top 100 high schools. Not surprisingly, the majority of these schools are in the Mid-Atlantic region. Michigan has 1 school in the Top 100, Illinois 1, Indiana 1, Ohio 3—there are few options in the region.

Finally, we see similar trends in quality of recruit. These schools average 20 Inside Lacrosse Young Guns on the roster, which comes to 5 per recruiting class. The two outliers are Cornell and Denver, who with 7 and 8 Young Guns respectively, are the only teams on the list with less than 15 Young Guns. If you eliminate these two outliers, the average jumps to 24.67 (or 6 per recruiting class). Inside Lacrosse provides this great map of where there Top 100 players have come from for the past four years. From 2007-2009, Michigan produced 3 Top 100 players (2 Brother Rice, 1 Detroit Country Day). The Midwest as a whole produced 13 (3 from Michigan, 2 Illinois, 8 from Ohio). For comparison sake, New York produced 27 in 2009 alone. There is some serious D1 talent in the state and region, but not the depth to rely solely on Michigan and its contiguous states.

So no matter how we slice it right now, location means a lot, and where you recruit seems to play a very serious role in how your team stacks up nationally.

 

What This Means For Michigan

Michigan is going to need a pretty serious overhaul of their roster before they are able to compete with the big boys for national championships. This should really only shock lacrosse players that haven’t played games outside the state of Michigan before. We’re going from having players who pay tuition and $1-3,000 dollars in dues per year (I don’t know Michigan’s figures specifically, but that’s typical for an MCLA program), to attempting to bring in the best players in the nation. We’re going to have to do things differently, and the faster we change, the faster we’ll be competitive.

So, how do we need to change? Here’s a chart that compares the regional make-up of 2011 Michigan’s roster to the Top 8 schools.

Region

% Michigan Roster

% Top 8's Roster

Midwest (MI, OH, MN, IL)

47.5

5.9

Mid-Atlantic (NY, NJ, MD, DE, PA)

25

58.7

New England (CT, MA, NH)

10

13.5

West (CA, UT, AZ, WA, OR, Canada)

5

12

South (VA, NC, GA, FL, TX, KY)

7.5

9.2


As stated before, the Mid-Atlantic represents nearly 60% of the players on the top programs. The Midwest represents less than 6% of the roster on those teams, and the state of Michigan has only produced 3 players total in the last four years that earned roster spots on these Top 8 programs. Michigan’s current roster is nearly 50% Midwestern players, and only 12.5% are from New York and Maryland. Michigan needs to cut the number of Midwestern recruits on its roster by 85%, more than double the number of players it recruits out of the Mid-Atlantic. Just as the Michigan football team cannot compete for national championships by recruiting players only from the state of Michigan, neither can the lacrosse program. While in the long term hopefully having a varsity team in state will increase the growth of high school lacrosse in Michigan, and consequently lead to more in-state talent, in the short run this presents a problem for Michigan.

 

So How Long Will This Take?

Good question.  Most likely, Michigan will not have a recruiting class that reflects the school's attractiveness to the sorts of guys who play lacrosse on the East Coast until 2014. They will probably be getting in too late for top 2013 kids. After all, here’s a list of the current commits from the Class of 2012. All of the top schools have pretty much closed their recruiting with the exception of 1-2 spots for “athletic projects” or transfers. That means we’re looking at 5-6 years before we see a roster composed of dominant players from dominant regions that played for dominant high schools. That’s a sobering number—it means John Paul’s building project is much more along the lines of Tom Crean and Indiana basketball than Urban Meyer and Florida football.

There is one wildcard out there. We don’t know how long John Paul and Dave Brandon have talked about making Michigan a D1 program. If John Paul has known for a year, he may very well have spent the last 12 months getting in touch with high school players in the classes of 2012 and 2013. Maybe these players are listed as committed to a Duke or Syracuse, but were ready to switch their commitment if Michigan made the move to D1.  This would mean Coach Paul’s been able to make headway with these players at the ground level, and isn’t just trying to scramble in at the last minute. If Paul was able to do this hush-hush recruiting, he may be able to sneak a couple of low-level Top 100 players in 2012 that buy into his vision, and then have a very good-to-great class in 2013. If that’s the case, we could be looking at 2-3 years before our roster on paper could hang on paper with the big boys.

I hope this gives you all a better sense of how the program will adjust to D1 status. My next diary will look at how Michigan’s roster stacks within it’s own conference, the ECAC. Please leave anything else you'd like me to include for next time in the comments.

OT: Vote for Michigan lax

OT: Vote for Michigan lax

Submitted by laxalum on September 20th, 2010 at 1:38 PM

Inside Lacrosse magazine does Laxie Awards every year (I know, lame name for the awards) to recognize fan picks for things like player of the year, team of the year, best highlight, etc.  Michigan Lacrosse is represented in quite a few of the categories this year.  Trevor Yealy for MCLA player of the year (he deserves it).  Michigan vs. Colorado game for upset of the year (boo).

The eye openers this year are that Michigan is listed as a finalist for Team of the Year (along with powerhouses Duke, Notre Dame, Maryland women and US National Team) and that John Paul is listed for Coach of the Year (along with some huge names in the sport).  Pretty incredible recognition for a club team.

The link to the awards voting is: http://survey.insidelacrosse.com/.  C'mon Michigan fans.  Stack the ballot box.  You have to vote for every category, so a lot of you may have to just randomly pick all the non-Michigan ones.