Delaware-High Point Highlights and Advanced Box Score

Let's watch a movie and then dig a little deeper into the stats from the Blue Hens-Panthers game.

Those are highlights from the Delaware-High Point season-opener on Saturday. Delaware came out of North Carolina with a 12-10 victory over the nascent Panthers program, and the moving pictures prove that the game was a real thing and not staged on an NCAA soundstage in the Nevada desert. But what does an advanced box score tell us about the game? Let's pick the game apart a little bit and see what we can see.

HIGH POINT-DELAWARE ADVANCED BOX SCORE (SELECTED METRICS)
DELAWARE BLUE HENS HIGH POINT PANTHERS
OPPORTUNITIES/TEMPO
Offensive Opportunities 33.00 30.00
Opportunities Margin +3.00 -3.00
Possession Ratio 52.38% 47.62%
Functional Offensive Opportunities 30.00 29.00
Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 90.91% 96.67%
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities 10.00 14.00
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio 33.33% 48.28%
Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Margin +4.00 -4.00
RAW EFFICIENCY
Offensive Efficiency 36.36 33.33
Efficiency Margin +3.03 -3.03
Offensive Efficiency: Functional Opportunities 40.00 34.48
Efficiency Margin: Functional Opportunities +5.52 -5.52
SHOOTING
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.39 1.03
Raw Shooting Rate 26.09% 32.26%
ASSISTS
Offensive Assist Ratio 8.33% 50.00%
Offensive Assist Rate 3.03 16.67
EXTRA-MAN RATES
Extra-Man Postures per 100 Offensive Opportunities 12.12 10.00
Extra-Man Posture Reliance 8.33% 0.00%
Extra-Man Posture Conversion Rate 25.00% 0.00%
MISCELLANEOUS
Penalties per 100 Opportunities 4.76 6.35
Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities 23.33 15.15
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 39.39 50.00
Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 24.24 26.67
"Run-of-Play Work Rate" 60.32 53.97
"Run-of-Play Work Rate" Margin +6.35 -6.35
GOALIE ACTIVITY
Saves per 100 Defensive Possessions 40.00 42.42
Team Save Percentage 53.85% 54.55%

Some brief notes:

  • High Point did a really nice job sharing the ball on Saturday; both the ratio of assisted goals and assists per offensive possession metrics illustrate that fact. New programs, at least historically, have struggled a bit at generating a totality of offense, sharing the bean at rates that are oftentimes best described as "icky." The Panthers, at least on Saturday, moved the ball well in generating goals from preferable locations, and that's something that shouldn't be ignored. Despite this, however, the Blue Hens got solid work from the cage out of Chris Herbert -- the keeper survived (to a decent degree) High Point's ability to generate assisted tallies (which are generally the hardest shots to stop) and held a solid save percentage while also killing 40 percent of Delaware's defensive possessions with a stop. That's a solid contribution from the crease, and it impacted Delaware's overall ability to stop the Panther's offensive approach.
  • Sloppiness is a hallmark of early-season play, and Saturday's game did not avoid that. The Blue Hens lost ten possessions in the attack box due to turnovers -- either caused or unforced -- while High Point managed to exceed that mark, giving away 14 opportunities that could have generated a tally. Why is this important? The Blue Hens were much more efficient in their functional offensive opportunities than they were in the overall; had Delaware not given away the ball -- or had it taken away from them -- the Blue Hens may have blown the game open: Those 10 functional offensive opportunities, had a turnover not occurred, could have generated about four more goals for Delaware based on efficiency performance. For High Point, the situation is similar to that of the Blue Hens (although somewhat muted given the differences in functional offensive opportunity efficiency and overall offensive efficiency), but there is an important difference: When you're the underdog -- and the Panthers are going to be the underdog a lot in 2013 -- you need to maximize every opportunity available. High Point spit the bit far too much, both in terms of unforced turnovers (which was only slightly higher than Delaware's effort in controlling that aspect of play (but still poor)) and protecting the bean against greedy Blue Hens defenders (the rate at which the Panthers lost the ball via a caused turnover from Delaware ranks incredibly high, and only about 20 teams last season generated a caused turnover rate in the vicinity of 23 per 100 opportunities). High Point can't afford to play with that kind of looseness.
  • I've been screwing around with two things the last month or so: (1) A metric that values something akin to assist-to-turnover ratio; and (2) Something I'm calling "run-of-play work rate." Let's focus on that second item. Groundballs are an important aspect of play; success in the groundball game is an indication of effort, the ability to maintain or generate possession, and fundamental skill and execution. "Run-of-play work rate" attempts to identify which teams -- outside of generating groundballs on faceoffs -- are doing well in that department, the idea being that teams that have a stronger margin in that metric are working harder than their opponents during the run-of-play and thereby changing the force of play. On Saturday, the Blue Hens did a nice job with groundball effort in non-faceoff situations, keeping back a High Point team that likely needed to fight in every free-ball situation in order to stay competitive. That's a solid effort from a Delaware team that could have simply gone through the motions against a team that couldn't afford to. That deserves a certificate of merit or something.
  • The Panthers didn't get themselves into a lot of man-down postures, which is a nice thing to see. For High Point, this is going to be important in 2013: (1) This is the defense's first run through Division I lacrosse, and playing in non-preferable postures isn't good for creating efficient defensive possessions; and (2) While Austin Geisler has a ton of potential, he hasn't seen a lot of time between the pipes at the Division I level and asking him to stop shots behind an inexperienced defense playing down a man is a tough request to make.

Anything else? The comments are yours.

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