Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden Eagles are winners, and don't you forget it.
There was no result this weekend as totally bonkers as Marquette going west, to altitude, and beating Air Force in Colorado. It's not just that the Golden Eagles are a new program that made the win surprising; it was a combination of that and the Falcons starting to look like a top 20 team, rife with offensive weapons like Mike Crampton, Tommy McKee, Erik Smith, and Keith Dreyer. The Falcons, as they had done to their lesser competition throughout the early part of the season, looked primed to give Marquette a swirlie when Saturday dawned, but as the day closed a different kind of circumstance had come to fruition: Joe Amplo receiving his first Gatorade bath as head of the nascent Golden Eagles program.
Here's a sampling of an advanced box score from the game. I wouldn't say that this was the prettiest game of the weekend, but underdogs that win don't generally play pretty games; underdogs that win end up scrapping, clawing, taking advantage of mistakes, and generally surviving. And that's exactly what Marquette did on Saturday. Brief notes follow the table with thoughts about some stuff that impacted the outcome.
|MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES||AIR FORCE FALCONS|
|Functional Offensive Opportunities||30.00||30.00|
|Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio||93.75%||85.71%|
|Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities||14.00||14.00|
|Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio||46.67%||46.67%|
|Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Margin||0.00||0.00|
|Offensive Efficiency: Functional Opportunities||26.67||20.00|
|Efficiency Margin: Functional Opportunities||+6.67||-6.67|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||0.75||1.06|
|Raw Shooting Rate||33.33%||16.22%|
|Offensive Assist Ratio||50.00%||83.33%|
|Offensive Assist Rate||12.50||14.29|
|Extra-Man Postures per 100 Offensive Opportunities||6.25||5.71|
|Extra-Man Posture Reliance||100.00%||0.00%|
|Extra-Man Posture Conversion Rate||25.00%||0.00%|
|Penalties per 100 Opportunities||2.99||2.99|
|Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities||14.29||18.75|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||50.00||54.29|
|Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||31.25||40.00|
|"Run-of-Play Work Rate"||28.36||13.43|
|"Run-of-Play Work Rate" Margin||+14.93||-14.93|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Possessions||40.00||25.00|
|Team Save Percentage||70.00%||50.00%|
- Air Force dominated the possession game on the day, getting around three more offensive opportunities than Marquette had, and that is mostly attributable to the Falcons decimating the Golden Eagles at the faceoff dot. In the end, though, those extra possessions were fairly useless for Air Force: Only about 86 percent of their offensive opportunities actually found their way to the attack box (due to five failed clears) and 14 of the Falcons' trips to the attack box -- about 47 percent of the team's trips -- were lost causes due to turnovers. That's not how you burn a witch at the post for sorcery; in fact, that's how you let a witch live a life eternal. Just look at Air Force's unforced turnover rate: North of 54 percent of the team's offensive opportunities were dogged with a giveaway (40 percent of them were of the unforced variety). If you're bad at valuing the ball in the attack box and struggle to get the ball into the attack box (and the opposition isn't doing the same at a concomitant rate), there is going to be trouble. And Air Force doused itself in the stink of trouble against Marquette.
- Do you know who deserves a steak the size a hub cap? Marquette goalie JJ Sagl. The keeper -- behind a pretty solid field defense on the day -- went crazypants hyper-nuts: His save percentage is stupid impressive (70 percent), but it's the fact that he ended about 40 percent of Marquette's defensive possessions with a save while seeing over a shot per defensive opportunity (1.06) that makes me want to send him something from Edible Arrangements. That's man's work, the kind of effort that comes with flapjacks and a dozen eggs served on a table that is actually a huge tree stump. Hot goaltenders are fun to watch, and Sagl was a blast on Saturday.
- You'd have to have a serious wound where your face used to be to think that Amplo wouldn't have his guys working like animals with a scent for blood. Marquette dominated the groundball war in the run of play, destroying Air Force to the tune of picking up about 15 more groundballs on a 100 possession basis than the Falcons. The little things yield big rewards, and the Golden Eagles were better at maintaining and generating possessions with the bean on the grass than Air Force was.
- Nascent programs often have trouble with clearing the ball. I'm not 100 percent sure why, but there is this weird thread that new programs seem to have a hell of a time getting ball out of their own end. On Saturday, it was Air Force, not the Golden Eagles, that played loose and miserably, clearing at only a 75 percent rate while Marquette maximized their opportunities at an elite 92 percent rate. The refrain keeps coming up: All opportunities need to be valued; if they aren't, bad stuff -- like losing to a first-year program -- happens.
- Do you see those offensive efficiency numbers? Yes? Do you want to un-see them? Yes? Wish granted. (Although, a high-five and a thumbs-up to Marquette for not spitting the bit like the Falcons. Weird things happen in a ground war, and the Golden Eagles at least kept their composure while Air Force was peeing their pants.)