Tough match up for the Terps – yes they are the statistical favorite (link) but this is a young, fast, tough solid Bryant team than is going to make a real run at the Terps. Check out the Google Hangout with Waldt, Mass and James at Inside Lacrosse. They are ready for this. If the Terps offense gets loose and going, they should win big. If our guys can’t find the cage or Gunner Waldt gets hot, it is going to be a slugfest.
1. X factor #1
I think the first X factor is on the FO. Raffa needs to get to at least parity with Massa and he can (see comment from College Crosse where PMix32 did a statistical analysis - very cool –that found that Raffa really is the dominant guy on the X). FO wins will mess with Bryant’s heads. Despite College Crosse’s valid point that FOs are often overrated, they are key to Bryant’s possession game. They rely on Massa for possessions and it is going to disrupt their game if they don’t win their usual numbers. They are a young team and have some issues with clears and turnovers (when compared to Terps). We’ll also need Erhardt to do his thing and scoop up the balls Charlie kicks out. Each FO win at the X and on the ground is going to be dagger in Bryant’s heart. And, we’ll need Charlie to play as smart as he has the past few games (and not turn over the balls that he wins). I wouldn’t mind seeing him take one to the cage as well.
2. X factor #2
Emotion. The Terps need to surge emotionally like they did in 2011 and 2012 and they will. Tillman has done an incredible job of building a killer team spirit and this is the time to turn it on and just outhustle the opponent to every GB, every dodge and through every double.
3. Bigs playing big
We need Chanenchuck and Amato step up and they will. Chanenchuck, in particular, is going to need to be able to distribute out of doubles and avoid getting pushed to the wings (so he can make plays). He’ll need to muscle to the cage so he forces Bryant’s d to shift. Niko will be solid but is going to need to rob Tucker James and Shane Morrell a few times.
Rambo needs to build on his Cornell game for the Terps to get to the next level. It’s tough sledding for our young star – he will be long-poled and pushed away from his favored left side. Rambo will need to push/hustle to get that extra step (and ground ball) like he did in the Cornell game in the Bryant Zone to get open and do his thing. It’s critical for him to use his big frame to push to the cage early and get the good shot or pass to Canniazzaro even Chanenchuck from up high. He also needs to convert those close in looks he has been getting (which he can) to really go to the next level.
5. Carlson, Lo Casio, West, Heacock or Rotanz step up
The Terps need one of their other guys to step up. Bryant is going to long pole and double Chanenchuck (as has every team that has beat the Terps), long pole Rambo (per above) and also jam Cannizzaro. One of the other guys will be open and will have decent shots. All of them have shown glimmers. West with his last minute play against Cornell, Rotanz with his early goal against ND (in second game), and Heacock is a bomb waiting to go off. But the Terps two other keys are Carlson and Lo Casio. Carlson will get – hopefully – close in looks that will be the best way to loosen up Gunner Waldt. And, Lo Casio has a huge shot and needs to do what he did early in the season and convert those looks (that hopefully he’ll get from Chanenchuck and Cannizzaro) into multiple scores.
6. D handling spread attack
The Terps D is an awesome, fearsome unit. Its strength as a cohesive unit is also its weakness. If you can spread the Terps out (so they can’t easily help), you can get open shots. And, if you have great shooters (like a UNC and Bryant), then you can get goals. The Terps D needs to be able to handle offensive starts from up high and avoid being spread out (and letting speedy Tucker James outrun his defender around the cage or find Shane Morrell for an outside shot). I think the Terps can do this with their physicality and speed. It won’t be easy as Tucker James is big and fast (6’0 180) and so is Shane Morrell (6’2 180) but the Terps have a different level of speed (Murray) and size (Erhardt, Dunn) then these guys have probably seen. I think the Terps – which like to stay in man – will need to be ready to quickly switch to zone to handle the spread offense.
7. Remorseless offensive mindset from Coach T
The Terps have lost when then hunker down in the possession game and don’t get creative on the offensive end. Coach T is an amazing coach in all areas except O (and he is improving there). He needs to keep his guys loose and shooting but also to be remorseless (as they were early in the season) and look to break the other teams back with multiple scores. He is a genius with the possession game and sometimes loses sight that an extra goal is an even better insurance for winning than extending a possession. He’s started to have his guys do some cuts and interior passes and it hasn’t resulted in lots of goals yet but it is just a shot or two away. If he gets his guys to stick with this they are going to get some layups. And, if the Terps start to get layups they are going to be very tough as the other side will have to move to handle cutters and Chanenchuck, Cannizzaro and Lo Casio will be open and deadly.