Hartford Lacrosse: Share the Love, Babycakes

For much of the 2012 season Hartford had been sitting atop the offensive assist rate table (assists per 100 offensive possessions). After this weekend's games, however, the Hawks dropped to number two behind Massachusetts (26.54 offensive assist rate for the Minutemen against a 26.11 rate for Hartford). This piece had been sitting in my draft queue for the better part of two weeks and as I'm far too lazy to delete it and instead pull apart Massachusetts' distribution activity, we're going with the second-ranked Hawks today.

Deal with it, homeboy.

While Hartford's record is full of sighs -- the Hawks are only 3-8 on the season, 0-2 in the sticky America East -- the offensive unit that Peter Lawrence is rolling out onto the field is actually among the nation's best: Hartford is currently fourth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency at 37.48; first in raw shooting percentage at 37.05 percent and first in effective shooting percentage at 37.82 percent; and, as mentioned, second in the land in offensive assist rate. This is a dangerous attack that, if it had a sidekick defense that was performing somewhere better than around the bottom 10 in the country, would generate more ink for the Hawks other than, "What happened to Hartford since 2011?"

The Hartford offense in 2012 has really revolved around five players -- Carter Bender (A), Ryan Compitello (A), Aidan Genik (A), Kevin O'Shea (A), and Martin Bowes (M). Bender has been the hub, although Compitello has been just as invaluable to a unit that isn't afraid to cause havoc and generally avoid prosecution for organized mayhem.

HARTFORD HAWKS: TOP-FIVE
PLAYER GOALS ASSISTS POINTS
Carter Bender 25 13 38
Ryan Compitello 14 18 32
Aidan Genik 22 6 28
Kevin O'Shea 17 10 27
Martin Bowes 14 11 25

When you start pulling apart how these five guys have generated their points -- basically, who's assisting whom (if they're assisting each other) -- two interesting things appear:

  1. The majority of Hartford's tallies -- through Compitello and Bender as the primary point-producing cogs -- has come from Compitello and Bender not working with each other or Genik, O'Shea, or Bowes, but with players outside of that top-five point-producing cohort. While Compitello and Bender are the hubs, they are working within and with the offense as a whole, which really shakes the cherry tree.
  2. Carter Bender is a horse. He'll get it almost as much on his own as he will with the offense in totem. This isn't necessarily an odd thing for Canadian-born, poutine-loving attack at the collegiate level, but rather affirms the impact that these guys from north of the border are having on the field game in the NCAA.

Here's the tandem chart for Hartford's top five point producers. I've excluded zero frequencies.

HARTFORD'S TOP-FIVE: TANDEM FREQUENCY
RANK TANDEM FREQUENCY
1. Compitello-Other 16
2. Bender-Other 12
3. Bender-Unassisted 10
4. Bowes-Unassisted 9
5. Compitello-Genik 7
Bender-Genik 7
7. O'Shea-Unassisted 6
O'Shea-Other 6
Bowes-Other 6
10. Bender-O'Shea 5
O'Shea-Genik 5
12. O'Shea-Bowes 4
Genik-Other 4
14. Genik-Unassisted 3
Bender-Compitello 3
Compitello-Bowes 3
17. Compitello-Unassisted 2
Genik-Bowes 2
18. Compitello-O'Shea 1
Bender-Bowes 1

A share/distribution chart as well as some more thoughts follow after the jump.

Here's the share/distributionchart for the Hawks' top-five point producers. It shows assists-in and assists-out. Bullet points on what's going on here after the explanation of the chart:

Hartfordsharechart_medium

Click the image so that you can actually read it.

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, O'Shea has provided Bender with four assists; Bender has provided O'Shea with only one. Genik has provided Compitello with one helper; Compitello has returned the favor to Genik with six. So on and so forth. Just follow the colored stripes to and from each name.

Here are some quick thoughts:

  • I, probably like you, was a little surprised to see only three hook-ups between Compitello and Bender this season. These are the two strongest weapons that Hartford has, but they've been getting their heat more with working with players outside that top-five grouping than with each other. That isn't necessarily an odd thing -- Scott Perri and Robert Church only had six hook-ups last season at about this point in the year and they were clearly the two biggest guns that Drexel had -- it's just interesting. I don't think emphasizing that relationship would make Hartford better or worse, it's just a cocktail napkin fact.
  • Carter Bender is, obviously, Hartford's biggest point producer and arguably the team's most important offensive player, but it's actually Ryan Compitello that has been a bit more ingrained into the Hawks' offense. On an integration value basis -- assists provided and assists received -- Bender holds a value of 28 while Compitello is a bit stronger at 30. The biggest difference between the two players (in a "Well, if someone is going to kill me, who do I think wields the knife the best?") is that Bender has gone out and gotten 10 unassisted tallies on the year while Compitello only has two. So, while Bender is the hub, Compitello contributes to and receives benefit from the offense as a whole -- excluding philosophical underpinnings relative to the value of a player that can go out and generate offense on his own (I don't care what you think about lacrosse, Kant!) -- more than Bender. Regardless, the Hawks are going to miss both players like crazy -- Why are you leaving me! I love you! -- in 2013.
  • Genik is your classic selfish finisher: Give me the bean and I'll ram the thing square through space-time past the keeper. A full 86 percent of Genik's scores this season have come from someone else getting him the ball in a position where he could score with Compitello and Bender -- again, those offensive hubs -- accounting for 58 percent of his assisted finishes. This isn't so much a knock on Genik -- Matt Poskay made a career out of crushing the bean via a helping hand -- as it emboldens the previous bullet point: Compitello and Bender make everyone around them better. The problem with this, of course, is if Compitello and Bender are limited -- which is rare -- a guy like Genik also suffers. This puts more of an onus on Bowes and O'Shea, who can create their own offense, to contribute more and that kind of usage increase for players that don't necessarily operate as offensive hubs can result in some uneven possessions and outings.

Alright, that's about 1,000 words on Hartford's offense. I have nothing more to add, mostly because you probably stopped reading before the jump. If you have anything to add, the comments are open.

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