March 6, 2012

Tuesday Extras: From Writers

by staff

Each week, staff and writers at games across the country bring you extra opinion, analysis and news that goes beyond what's written in the game stories.

Inside Hopkins' Defensive Plan, and Did Princeton Figure It Out?

Johns Hopkins goaltender Pierce Bassett made some timely stops in the second half of the Blue Jays win over Princeton that may have masked the fact that the Tigers figured out Hopkins' defensive approach.
© John Strohsacker/

Game Story: 'Next Guy Up: Hopkins Downs Princeton, 10-8'

Any team looking to beat Princeton for the next three years will need to do what Johns Hopkins did on Friday night: neutralize Tom Schreiber.

The Blue Jays held Princeton's star sophomore to season-lows of one goal, two assists and five shots. Schreiber had seven goals, five assists and 19 shots in his previous two games.

One key to that defensive game plan was the play of Tucker Durkin, Johns Hopkins' 6-foot-2 junior defenseman. Another key was finding a way to keep Princeton's offense from setting picks for Schreiber. Occasionally that meant loading up on Schreiber to make someone else beat them.

"We tried our best to keep that matchup and weren't as concerned with the others," said Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala. "We bumped some poles around and bumped a short stick down and a pole up. I thought early on we kept them a bit off balance."

Added Durkin: "We wanted to play our picks a little different than normal. Let some guys get through and other guys switch on it."

Those looking to copy JHU's strategy may be out of luck. By the end of the game Princeton had found a way to break through, scoring the game's last three goals. Jeff Froccaro, Mike Grossman and Schreiber each scored in the final six minutes.

"I thought they started to load up their midfield in the second half and kind of forced us to pick and choose who we were gonna put poles on," Pietramala said.

It certainly seemed like one of those games where another five minutes of playing time could have swung the game in Princeton's favor. After being held without a shot in the second quarter, Princeton outshot Johns Hopkins 29-10 in the second half. If not for a couple of key saves by goalie Pierce Bassett the outcome could have been very different. – MARK MACYK

Syracuse Was Dominated on Faceoffs

Game Story: 'Top-ranked Virginia Outguns No. 3 Syracuse'

When Syracuse went into the locker room with a 6-4 halftime lead over Virginia on Sunday, the Orange looked like it could be headed for a victory over the top team in the nation despite the beating it was taking on faceoffs.

Syracuse was only 3-of-12 in faceoffs in the first half, yet somehow held the lead. But in the second half, that changed quickly. Cavaliers' specialist Ryan Benincasa was simply dominant, winning 20-of-28 draws in the game.

In the third quarter, when Virginia went on a four-goal scoring run, the Cavaliers won 8-of-9 faceoffs. Virginia controlled the pace of the game, and beat Syracuse by simply keeping the ball out of the Orange's sticks. When Syracuse did have possession, its offense went to sleep and failed to take advantage.

The Orange has to get its faceoff situation under control. Syracuse used three players -- Chris Daddio (4-for-15), Ricky Buhr (4-for-12) and Drew Jenkins (0-for-1) -- at the 'X,' but all were beaten time and again. Teams are always going to try to beat the Orange by slowing the game down, dictating tempo and stripping Syracuse of its run-and-gun style.

Virginia – a run-and-gun type team in its own right – did exactly that and it paid off with a 14-10 win. – CHRIS ISEMAN

Ohio State Offense Needs to Get Going

Game Story: 'Penn State Defense Stops Ohio State in 5-2 Win'

After a tough 5-2 loss to Penn State, Ohio State will need to regroup quickly before facing Robert Morris this Friday.

In back-to-back losses against the Nittany Lions and UMass, the Buckeyes have only scored a combined total of five goals compared to the 36 goals they scored in first three games.

OSU hasn't won since they upset Denver on Feb. 19.

And even if OSU is able to get back on track against RMU, it's not like the going gets any easier.

Following Friday night's game, back-to-back contests against defending national champion Virginia and No. 7 Notre Dame still loom on the schedule.

Senior defenseman Matt Kawamoto said it's important that the Buckeyes review went wrong against PSU, put the loss behind them and focus on "getting right back to it." – PATRICK MAKS

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