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Friday, March 18, 2011

Detroit Weekend Preview: VMI

The Titans return to action tomorrow, opening up conference play against Virginia Military Institute. Everybody is 0-0 in MAAC play, so an NCAA Tournament bid is still possible for the Titans, despite a disappointing start to the season.


Saturday 1PM, Titan Field
Record: 2-4 (0-0 MAAC)
Rankings: #46 (Computer).
Common Opponents: Mercer (W 15-3), Bellarmine (L, 8-9).
Previous Meeting: 2010 Regular Season (11-8 UDM win).


The Keydets have started 2011 2-4, with the lone wins coming over a pair of completely hapless programs in Mercer and Presbyterian. Most of their losses, on the other hand, have come against very good competition (aside from an 8-9 loss to Bellarmine).

The problem is, aside from the Bellarmine loss, the Keydets haven't really been competitive in any game. They lost 8-14 to Navy, 6-12 to Army, and 6-22(!) to Virginia. Based on what we've seen out of this team so far, they are not very good.


Keith Long is by far the most important player to the VMI offense. He has 20 points, leading the team in both assists (11) and goals (9). Tied atop the goal standings is Leonard Drew, with 9 of his own, but only 3 assists. The team's third-leading point-getter is Mickey Hofmeister, who only has 2 goals, but has dished out 9 assists - in only 3 games.

Defensively, Rory Dillon is a key player for VMI. He leads the team with 10 caused turnovers this season, though he only had 12 ground balls to go along with that. Kyle Hofstetter and Chris Kitchen have also started every game. Hofstetter is something of an enforcer, leading the team in penalties committed.

In goal, Kelly McMinn has started every game, and played all but about an hour between the pipes. He sports a .521 save percentage, and allows 11.5 goals per game.

Faceoffs are a strong point for VMI, as everybody who's taken even a single draw for the Keydets has won more than half of his attempts. Stephen Robarge has taken the most faceoffs, and has won nearly 65% of them.


Detroit hasn't been a terribly inefficient team with their possessions this year, and it seem like VMI is a pretty weak squad defensively, and just OK offensively. There should be the opportunity for Shayne Adams and Scott Harris (the conference's reigning Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively) to find twine a few times. The defense should be able to, at the very least, keep a non-potent offense in check enough to give the team a chance to win. While we're talking Adams and Harris, check out a Titans video interview with Scott:

It's not efficiency that's killed UDM in most games this year, however, it's getting possession. VMI is an excellent faceoff team, though they haven't yet faced a team winning at a greater than .500 clip this season (nor will they against the Titans). That makes the ride/clear game very important, and the Keydets are bad on the ride, and quite good on the clear.

Taking advantage of the clearing game and not getting obliterated on faceoffs are going to be huge keys for Detroit in this game. Finishing the opportunities they do get shouldn't be an issue with the talented offensive players.

I think Detroit will emerge victorious, 13-9.

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