Another "Player of the Year" piece, another one that omits the second-most productive offensive player in the country -- Scott Perri of Drexel.
For shame, Inside Lacrosse. For shame.
My original intention for this essay was to write an opus about Perri, similar to the piece I penned about the points-cyborg, Rob Pannell. Halfway through I scrapped it having come to the following realization: Maybe the issue isn't nonrecognition of Perri's production, but rather nonrecognition of Perri's team.
Look: Steele Stanwick has been a household name for three years, and his individual production isn't in the top-10 in offensive rating (goals per 100 possessions), assist rate (assists per 100 possessions), or total offensive value (points per 100 possessions). Is Stanwick included simply because he's rolling with a team that everyone pays attention to every week?
Maybe. It's not that Stanwick isn't great (he is), but if we're seriously going to talk about the college game's "Player of the Year," we really need to consider production impact and how the player is contributing in the overall.
Here's the story: Drexel is all of 6-5 this season and they're putting the nation's second-most efficient offense on the field every night (the Dragons have an adjusted offensive efficiency of 36.33). Pretty shocking for a team just above .500, right? Easy, champ. Drexel is having a bit of problem defensively in that they can't stop anyone consistently. The Dragons are 51st (!) in adjusted defensive efficiency at 31.32. Despite these defensive liabilities, though, Drexel is a respectable 19th in adjusted efficiency margin at 5.01.
Yes, you're understanding this correctly: Drexel's offense is carrying its broke-ass defense all the way to wins that it probably shouldn't get. If you're talking about player value and outstanding performers, wouldn't you need to include a guy that is the centerpiece of an offense that would probably be part of a top-10 team if it was paired with a defense that wasn't functionally paralyzed?
In other words, how many wins would Drexel have if Scott Perri wasn't losing his mind every game?
That's what I'm talking about, people. In the long run it doesn't really matter, though, because Rob Pannell is ultimately winning every award that honors excellence in the field of excellence this year.
So, enough with the soapbox stuff. Let's break apart the Drexel offense and see where the production is coming from. Charts, graphs, and super-fun explanations continue after the jump.
Let's start with a quick table. This one reflects Drexel's five double-digit point scorers on the season. The last column reflects "Total Offensive Value." As noted previously, this is merely an individual's points per 100 offensive possessions. It's better than points per game because points per game, as a metric, is pretty pointless.
So, duh, Perri is the big producer on the team. The important question, then, is how important is Perri to Drexel's second-rated offensive machine?
This is a different kind of concept that isn't written about a bunch, so I'm going to explain it a little. The following tables and graphs are designed to show a player's integration into an offense. I'm asking these kinds of questions:
- On a score, what were the player tandems? Are some tandems more prevalent than other tandems? Is a team relying on a player to generate an unassisted score? It's basically an issue of scoring distribution load. Or, rather, who is doing what with whom?
- What's the sharing matrix among primary point producers look like? This is a focus almost exclusively on assists. Who is helping whom (and how often) to score a goal? This is asking a second kind of question: If Player A didn't exist, how would it impact Player B's production? (In other words, how much does Player B rely on Player A to score?)
Let's start with the tandems. From the following table, you can see that a plurality of Drexel's tallies have come via a Scott Perri unassisted goal. That's pretty impressive for a guy that sees his opponent's best marker every game. What's more, Perri is able to do this in the construct of a super efficient offense.
Some quick comments:
- Brendan Glynn has not contributed an assist to Perri yet this season but has benefited from seven helpers from Perri. This isn't unusual for a finisher, but it is odd that he hasn't once gotten the ball to Perri in a position where Perri converted. Moreover, of the 10 goals that Glynn has scored this year that have resulted from an assist, 70% of those have been attributed to Perri. If I'm scouting Drexel, I'm taking note of the fact that Glynn's production thrives in part on Perri's ability to get him the ball. It's a decidedly one-way relationship.
- Robert Church is making a living off of helpers, primarily from Perri. Now, Church is certainly spreading the wealth as well, notably keeping players outside of the "Double Digit Five" in business (and they're helping Church as well). However, of Church's 19 goals this season 16 have come from an assist from someone. That's the essence of individual production woven into the fabric of an offense, especially when you consider he's dished 15 assists on the season (six of which went to players that you wouldn't even star on the roster sheet).
- Nick Trizano is an interesting case. His four assists this year have all gone to Robert Church. Weird. Seven of the 12 goals that Trizano has scored via the assist were attributable to either Perri or Church. This is a guy that's getting fat off of Drexel's two biggest weapons. If anyone could stop Church and/or Perri, Trizano may simply wilt away. In short, he's part of the offensive fabric, but he's benefiting from stronger stitches.
- Finally, Scott Perri. He can, of course, go ahead and get it himself (18 unassisted tallies). It's important to note, though, that he's completely ingrained in the Drexel offense, having an integration value of 32 (that's total assists provided and total assists received). Only one player on the Drexel squad approaches that integration value and it's Robert Church at 32. Church, in contrast to Perri, has only generated three unassisted goals on the season; he doesn't have the overall impact that Perri does. Without question, Perri is the most important cog in the second-most efficient offense in the land. He's a poor man's Rob Pannell, but he's doing a damn fine job carrying the load.
Here's the sharing chart for the top-five point-producers. It shows assists-out and assists-in:
Here's how to read this thing. Everything is color coded, so even a six year-old can figure it out. Follow the colors. For example, Perri has provided Glynn seven assists; Glynn has not provided Perri any. Church has provided Trizano with three assists; Trizano has provided Church with four. So on and so forth. Just follow the colored stripes to each name.
As you can see, Perri (and to a lesser extent, Church) are at the center of it all for Drexel with respect to this cadre of offensive weapons.