Sports information departments are back at it again this week and that means only one thing: It's time to shatter some skulls.
Here's the background to this entire thing: I'm pulling apart a handful of tweets from sports information departments regarding where lacrosse teams rank in various statistical categories and addressing them in three ways -- (1) the level of truth in the tweet; (2) creating context to the tweet, providing brief notes as to why the team's ranking is important; and (3) balancing the proffered note with a side of ickiness (because nobody tweets about the good things and the world of lacrosse isn't just rainbows and eyeballs made of jellybeans).
Let's do this.
MLAX: Seawolves up to second in nation in shooting percentage (.349)— StonyBrookAthletics (@SBAthletics) April 23, 2013
Wonderful! Let's beat this up a little bit:
Truth Factor: This is true. Jeff Tundo and Brody Eastwood are driving a lot of this value, combining for around 33 percent of Stony Brook's attempts and holding an aggregated 46.80 shooting percentage. Looking at the four players with the team's highest shot usage (Eastwood, Tundo, Mike Rooney, and Challen Rogers), that foursome is combining for a 36.43 shooting percentage while taking responsibility for around 62 percent of the Seawolves shots. That's getting value out of the right people.
Context: It's fine that Stony Brook is shooting at such a high rate this season, but the Seawolves have accomplished this against some terrible defensive teams: Stony Brook's schedule is ranked just 54th in opposing defenses faced and five of those opponents -- Lafayette, Sacred Heart, Vermont, UMBC, and Hartford -- have adjusted defensive efficiency values above the national average and raw defensive shooting percentages at or above the national average. So, while the Seawolves are converting at a high rate on their shots, they've also had the luxury of playing (1) defenses that struggle and (2) a handful of teams that already have a difficult time at keeping the opposition from converting attempts at a high rate. This isn't to say that Stony Brook is actually a poor shooting team (even with fancy adjustments to shooting rates, Stony Brook still looks pretty good); rather, it's important to note that Stony Brook is doing this against some questionable defensive opposition. This is an accurate team and it is a driver for the Seawolves' success this season, but the raw value doesn't tell the entirety of the story.
Ignored Ickiness Note: The Seawolves are 58th nationally in possession margin per 60 minutes of play, clocking in at about a four possession deficit. While the Seawolves have been great at converting shots (and also efficiently putting the ball in the back of the net when they actually have the pill (the team ranks 13th in adjusted offensive efficiency)), they haven't had as many opportunities to actually squeeze off attempts as their opponents because Stony Brook can't seem to win faceoffs again this season (the team ranks 57th in adjusted and raw faceoff percentage) and is playing loose on clearing attempts (the Seawolves' rate -- 83.21 percent -- ranks 50th in the nation). A few more possessions and the team’s ability to convert with the ball could make a tangible difference.
Gerald Logan is No. 2 in saves per game in the NCAA (14.92), No. 2 in total saves (194), and is No. 16 in save percentage (56 percent).— Michigan Lacrosse (@UMichLacrosse) April 22, 2013
Fantastic! Let's investigate like we're wearing important hats:
Truth Factor: This is true. Gerald Logan deserves hazard pay.
Context: There are a few things I look at from a team-oriented level to get an idea of what goalie play means for a defense -- team save percentage; saves per defensive opportunity; shots per defensive possession; raw defensive shooting percentage; and defensive assist rate. These five metrics provide an illustration of just how much reliance a defense is putting on a goalkeeper to make stops and what kind of stops he's being asked to make. With respect to Logan's play, he's been put in the fire this season and has performed fairly well: (1) Logan's save percentage is strong despite having to make an incredible number of saves (only two teams see their goaltender make more stops on a per-possession basis than Michigan); and (2) Michigan is allowing its keeper to see a bunch of shots per defensive opportunity (the Wolverines rank 46th in the metric at 1.15 per trip) and many of those shots are potentially coming from preferred shooting locations (Michigan's defensive assist rate ranks 56th nationally at 21.93 per 100 defensive opportunities (65.36 percent of the goals that the Wolverines have allowed have come via an assist)). That's a lot of rubber that Logan has seen and stopped with aplomb this season, and when you also consider that Logan has had to do this in a situation where the Wolverines have seen their defense play about three more defensive possessions per 60 minutes of play compared to the opposition, Logan's work stands even stronger. I wouldn't say that Logan is one of the best five or six goalkeepers in the country, but his volume of work between the pipes has few peers.
Ignored Ickiness Note: Michigan's defense ranks 52nd in adjusted defensive efficiency. So, yeah.