May 20, 2008
Setting the Scene: Fifth-seeded Johns Hopkins (10-5) and top-seeded Duke (18-1) meet in the NCAA Semifinals at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The JHU-Duke game is the second game of a semifinal doubleheader that opens with Syracuse and Virginia meeting at noon. The approximate start time of the Johns Hopkins-Duke game is 2:30 pm.
Looking Back: The Blue Jays (10-5) held Navy scoreless for over 30 minutes midway through the game and used a 6-0 run to break open a close game en route to a 10-4 win over the Midshipmen in the NCAA Quarterfinals last Saturday in Annapolis. Duke spotted Ohio State a 1-0 lead then ripped off 10 straight goals in cruising to a 21-10 win over the Buckeyes in the quarterfinals last Sunday at Cornell.
These are the Facts: Johns Hopkins enters the game against Duke with an all-time record of 881-277-15 (.757). The Blue Jays own nine NCAA titles, 29 USILA titles and six ILA titles for a total of 44 national championships.
125th Anniversary: The 2008 season marks the 125th anniversary of the Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse program. The Blue Jays are wearing commemorative patches on their uniforms for the 125th anniversary of the program (it is NOT the 125th season) and the logo is being used in a variety of printed pieces to promote the anniversary.
Series History: This will be the 16th all-time meeting between Johns Hopkins and Duke and the fourth in the NCAA Tournament. A complete series history can be found elsewhere in this week's notes.
Johns Hopkins Earns 37th Straight NCAA Bid: Johns Hopkins earned its record 37th straight bid to the NCAA Tournament this season. The 37 consecutive appearances is the longest active streak of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament in any NCAA Division I Team sport (the University of Miami baseball team will earn its 36th straight bid when the NCAA Division I Baseball selections are announced later this month). A list of the longest active streaks of qualifying for the men's lacrosse tournament can be found to the right. In addition, a list of the longest active streaks of qualifying for each Division I team sport can also be found here.
Blue Jays Seeded Fifth: Johns Hopkins earned a number five seed in the 2008 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament. This is the 12th consecutive year the Blue Jays have been seeded in the top five. To put this in perspective, no other team in the nation has even qualified for the NCAA Tournament for 12 straight years. In fact, JHU's streak of 12 straight top-five seeds is twice as long as any other team's streak of qualifying for the tournament at all (Maryland - 6 straight bids).
Semifinal Saturday: The Blue Jays are regulars on semifinal Saturday as this is the sixth time in seven years the Blue Jays have advanced to the semifinals. Overall, this is the 28th trip to the semifinals for the Blue Jays. To put that in persepective, only three other teams (Virginia, Maryland and Syracuse) have even qualified for the tournament 28 times.
That's 604 Games Over .500: Including the win against Navy, the Blue Jays' all-time record is now 880-277-15 (.757) ... that's 604 games over .500. To put this in perspective: JHU has played an average of just under 15 games per season under head coach Dave Pietramala. Using a 15-game season as a reference, if the Blue Jays posted a 5-10 record for 120 straight seasons, they would still be four games over .500.
Poll Position: Johns Hopkins is ranked fourth in the USILA Coaches Poll and the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll (final regular season polls). Duke is ranked first in the USILA Coaches Poll and first in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll. To clarify, the Johns Hopkins Sports Information Office uses the USILA Coaches Poll to reflect JHU's official ranking at the time of a game.
May Day: Johns Hopkins has posted a 36-4 (.900) record in the month of April under head coach Dave Pietramala and that success has carried over into the month of May. JHU is 26-5 (.839) in the month of May under Pietramala, including a perfect 13-0 at Homewood Field. Overall the Blue Jays have won 21 consecutive games at Homewood Field in the month of May. JHU's last loss at home in May came on May 2, 1992, when Towson dropped the Blue Jays, 14-13, in overtime.
Prepping For May: Head coach Dave Pietramala and the Blue Jays continue to play one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, a fact that was only further solidified with the announcement of the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse bracket. Johns Hopkins played nine of its 13 regular season games against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament and the cumulative regular season record of JHU's 13 opponents was 117-70 (.626).
The nine games against NCAA Tournament teams were the second most in the nation. Only North Carolina (10) played more games against teams that qualified for the NCAAs. A complete breakdown of the number of games each team in the tournament played against teams that qualifed for the tournament can be found above.
State Rivalries: Without question the Blue Jays play one of the most difficult schedules in the nation and a big part of that schedule are the in-state rivalries the Blue Jays have. JHU won all seven of its games this season against in-state rivals (UMBC, Maryland, Navy-twice, Towson, Mount St. Mary's, Loyola) and the Blue Jays are 39-2 (.951) against teams from Maryland under head coach Dave Pietramala.
Halftime Speech is Working: During the current seven-game winning streak the Blue Jays have out-scored the opposition 27-7 in the third quarter.
Man-Down Unit Improving: One area where the Blue Jays struggled during the middle of the season was in man-down situations. The opposition converted on 9-of-15 (.600) chances in a six-game span that started against Hofstra and ended against Maryland. However, in the last six games the Blue Jays have found their way in man-down situations as Navy (both games), Towson, Mount St. Mary's, Loyola and Hofstra combined to convert on just 2-of-19 (.105) extra-man chanes. For the year the opposition is 16-of-44 (.364) with the extra man.
Extra-Man Unit Rolls On: Johns Hopkins has been opportunistic when given extra-man opportunities as the Blue Jays rank sixth in the nation in man-up offense as they've converted on 15-of-35 (.429) chances this season. The 35 chances are the fewst of any team ranked in the top 25 in the nation in this category. Senior Paul Rabil leads the team with five extra-man goals, while freshman Kyle Wharton (3) and seniors Michael Doneger (3) and Kevin Huntley (2) have also cashed in on these chanes.
One-Goal Turnarounds: The three straight losses to Hofstra (8-7), Syracuse (14-13) and Virginia (13-12) are rare one-goal losses for the Blue Jays under head coach Dave Pietramala. Johns Hopkins is now 30-9 in one-goal games since Pietramala took over in 2001. Despite the losses, the Blue Jays have won 17 of their last 22 and 21 of their last 27 one-goal games. In the five seasons prior to Pietramala arriving (1996-2000) the Blue Jays were 5-8 in one-goal games.
More One-Goal Notes: The Blue Jays have come from behind to win 14 times during their last 17 one-goal wins. In 10 of those 14 come-from-behind one-goal wins the Blue Jays came back from a deficit of two goals or more. The latest of these come-from-behind one-goal wins came against Notre Dame in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, when the Blue Jays erased a 4-1 second-quarter deficit.
In Case We Go Extra: The regular season loss at Hofstra snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Blue Jays in overtime games. The Blue Jays had won nine straight overtime games dating back to a 10-9 win at Navy in 2004 before the loss to the Pride. Including the OT loss to Virginia, JHU is 13-5 all-time in overtime under head coach Dave Pietramala's guidance, including an impressive 6-3 on the road.
More Overtime: The three consecutive overtime games for the Blue Jays against Hofstra, Syracuse and Virginia mark the first time Johns Hopkins has ever played three straight overtime games. Twice previously the Blue Jays had played two consecutive overtime games (1982 and 1988).
Comeback Kids: The Blue Jays have come from behind to win five times this season (Albany, UMBC, Towson, Loyola, Navy (NCAA)) and erased a two-goal deficit in the third quarter at Loyola. Johns Hopkins came from behind to win eight times last season, including six times during the season-ending nine-game winning streak. JHU trailed in its first two NCAA Tournament games, but never trailed during the Final Four.
Streaking: Johns Hopkins is 73-16 in its last 89 regular season games dating back to the end of the 2001 season and is 87-20 overall since the start of the 2002 season.
Defensive Turnaround: Johns Hopkins allowed 57 goals in consecutive losses to Syracuse, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke. However, the Blue Jay defense has rebounded nicely in the last month with standout showings in wins over Maryland (10-4), Navy (12-5), Towson (16-7), Mount St. Mary's (12-1), Loyola (9-6), Hofstra (10-4) and Navy (10-4). This is the first time JHU has held seven straight opponents to seven goals or less in the same season since 1967.
Don't Forget the Offense: While the focus of any Dave Pietramala-coached team will always be defense, the Blue Jay offense has been effective as well this season. Consider:
As a team the Blue Jays have scored on 31.8% of their shots through 15 games (159-of-500). JHU connected on 28.8% of its shots en route to winning the national championship a year ago. The Blue Jays' highest shooting percentage in the Pietramala era came in 2003 when they connected on 31.7% (224-of-706) of their shots.
Although not the highest scoring team in the nation, the Blue Jays may be one of the most balanced teams on the offensive end of the field. JHU has had seven or more different goal-scorers in seven different games this season with a season-high nine different players scoring against Syracuse, Navy and Mount St. Mary's. Eight different players scored against Virginia and Towson and seven hit the back of the net against Princeton and UMBC.
Dating back to the end of last season, JHU has scored in double figures 16 times in its last 21 games and is averaging 11.0 goals per game during that time (231 goals in 21 games).
The 16 goals the Blue Jays scored against Towson are the most for JHU since a 17-goal outburst at Syracuse last season.
Johns Hopkins has scored in all 28 quarters during its current seven-game winning streak and the Blue Jays have scored three or more goals in 16 of those 28 quarters.
Playing the Possession Game: JHU has won the ground ball war in 11 of its 15 games this season and has a 487-428 ground ball advantage on the year (+3.4 GBs per game). Hofstra (31-29), Duke (40-38), MSM (31-30) and Navy (NCAA) (28-20) are the only teams to win the ground ball battle against JHU this season.
JHU vs. Top Seed: This week's game against top-seeded Duke will mark the 13th time Johns Hopkins has played the top seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Jays have knocked off the top seed five times in tournament history, including twice in the semifinals (1972, 1987).
In Belichick's House: The Blue Jays will be paying a visit to one of their biggest fans in New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Belichick is a regular at Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse games as he and head coach Dave Pietramala have developed a strong friendship. He was in attendance at last season's national champoinship game in Baltimore and last week's NCAA Quarterfinal victory over Navy. Pietramala and his staff are frequent visitors to the Patriots' facility and have spent time observing the New England coaching staff in action during summer camp. JHU attackman Steven Boyle, a native of Derry, New Hampshire and a die-hard Patriots fan, experienced a thrill last season as a freshman when Pietramala asked Boyle if he wanted to join Belichick as he warmed up the Blue Jay goalies before a practice.
Additional Notes and Player Notes of Interest Included in PDF Version Above