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Gaining Perspective on the 2023 UVA Offense

The 2022 Maryland Terrapins were a historically great team. They rolled through the competition, making great opponents look average by comparison. The entire roster is packed with pro talent, as the starting lineup from 2022 now either is or soon will be playing in the PLL.

The offense looked effortless. The ball hummed, touching every player's stick. Tewaaraton winner Logan Wisnauskas did plenty of damage with 103 points, but this was a Terp team that had six players crack 40 points on the season, and Owen Murphy was right there with 39.

This year, there is no undefeated wrecking ball smashing through the DI ranks. The top of the polls has been a three team carousel of UVA, Notre Dame, and Duke for most of the season. Without the context of “this team is so far above everyone else they’re an obvious all timer,” we may not be as anxious to see if any of those three really are an all-timer. That may be preventing us from giving the 2023 UVA offense the credit it deserves.

Per Lacrosse Reference, Maryland’s adjusted offensive efficiency in 2022 was 41.5%. Adjusted here meaning accounts for the opponent. The Terps scored 318 goals, scoring 17.6 per game They had 204 assists, 11.3 per game. They took 814 shots and shot 39.1%, firing 45.2 shots per game. They had 114 unassisted goals, and committed 262 turnovers. Maryland hit these marks is after an 18-0 season.

UVA currently has played 16 games, so they are two games worth of stats behind the 2022 Terps. That said, their adjusted offensive efficiency is 41.7%, slightly better than Maryland’s. They have 281 goals, an average of 17.5 per game. 189 assists, averaging 11.8 per game, and are shooting 38.4%. They also are taking more shots per game than the Terps. Should UVA play two more games and score their season average in both, they’d be at 316 goals, just two shy of the number Maryland scored a year ago.

None of the stats, on a per game basis at least, heavily tilt towards Maryland from a year ago. And there are a few other notable things to call out here.

UVA’s adjusted defensive efficiency this year is 26.7%. Maryland a year ago was at 20.9% adjusted defensive efficiency. The Terps faced off last year at an adjusted 67.3%, while UVA this year is at 58%. Terps goalies stopped 63.4% of shots last year, UVA is at 56.2% this year. UVA’s offense is still slightly more efficient than Maryland’s was a year ago despite, by a decent sized margin, being worse than Maryland on the defensive end, facing off, and in net. Overcoming all of that to be better, or even just as good, as Maryland on the offensive end is no small feat.

Let’s look at the QBs, the stars, the leaders of the offense. For UVA in 2023, that’s still Connor Shellenberger. For Maryland in 2022, that’s Logan Wisnauskas. To do it, let’s talk stats.

This year, Shellenberger has an assist share of 27.7%, meaning he’s responsible for that many of UVA’s assists as a team. His shot share is 10.8%, while Xander Dickson, Payton Cormier, and Thomas McConvey all have more shots than him. Last year, Wisnauskas had an assist share of 20.7%, and a shot share of 15.4%, both the highest marks on the team. Shellenberger is primarily playing the role of distributor, while Wisnauskas was the go to guy for everything, even on an offense that loaded.

Lax Reference developed a stat called Usage Adjusted EGA. In short, it attempts to measure how many goals a player contributes with his play, adjusted for the fact that some players will just have more opportunity to see the ball than others. Think of it as the lacrosse version of usage-rate in basketball. Shellenberger is at 2.78 this year, Wisnauskas was at 2.55. UVA has three different players this year with a uaEGA over 2.6 in Dickson, Shellenberger, and Cormier, while Maryland last year didn’t have a single one. Boiled down, this year’s stars UVA are actually bringing more to the game than the Terps lead players from a year ago.

Some of this is because Dickson and Cormier in particular are shooting the lights out. On the season, Dickson has a 75% shooting percentage on shots on goal. Cormier is at 73.9%. Goalies just aren’t stopping their shots. Some are dunks, some are because they're just excellent shooters. The only players over 70 for the Terps were John Geppert and Roman Puglise, who obviously are not offensive regulars.

The purpose here isn’t to bring Maryland from a year ago down to Earth. They belong in the pantheon of all time greats, because in 2022, that’s just what they were. It’s to point out that they were historically great a year ago, and acknowledge that the UVA offense is right there with their offense. The Terps were a better overall team last year. The Maryland defense was incredible, McNaney had an insane year, and Luke Wierman reached a level facing off that nobody expected when the season started. But we are just talking offenses here, and the UVA offense this year has earned some discussion about where it belongs alongside other all time greats.


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