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Adjusted Total Offensive Value: An Early-March Rundown of College Lacrosse's Best Offensive Players

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It's probably a week too early for this kind of thing, but whatever. It's happening; you're experiencing it now, in fact. Isn't it glorious? I know, I'm pretty impressed myself and I wrote it.

The NCAA has started to release its overall individual player statistics and it got me thinkin': (1) Do I want sushi or chopped salad for lunch?; and (2) How does all this nonsense look in a tempo-free universe?

The first question is decidedly my problem; the second question is everyone's problem. (I hope you brought a pencil. There'll be a test at the end of this piece.) To resolve this, I took the 203 players listed in the NCAA's titantic report and sculpted it ever so gently into a tempo-free pseudo-masterpiece. What I came up with is something I'm calling adjusted total offensive value. (It is, admittedly, less fancy-pantsy than it sounds.)

The basis of adjusted total offensive value is this: total points against a teams offensive possessions modified for strength of defenses faced. It's basically an individualized version of adjusted offensive efficiency, which is just a team's goals over its total offensive possessions modified for the strength of defenses faced. Now, while this approach sounds pretty reasonable, there is one problem: There is some white noise and its impossible to resolve it.

The problem with individual statistics in college lacrosse is that you can't see the number of possessions that a particular player plays. There just isn't enough information floating around the Internet machine that can get you to that pot of nerd gold. What we're left with is having to use possessions in the overall and use it for everybody. (Which, I guess, is just a fairer way of saying, "Sorry, toots. It's the best I got. If you don't like it, hit the bricks."). I'm willing to accept this amount of white noise compared to per-game metrics as per-game metrics really skew the horizon.

As an example of the silliness that are inherent in per-game metrics: Player A runs with a team that plays 100 offensive possessions a game; Player B runs with a team that plays 10 possessions a game. I would hope to Whatever Chooses to Smote Me From Upon High that Player has a higher per-game point average than Player B, simply because Player B has fewer opportunities to rack up points-per-game. When you use possessions as your benchmark rather than games, you even the playing field (even if the player isn't always on the playing field). It's a matter of taking a shotgun blast to the face or a stab wound to the buttocks. In that case, I choose having my ass reddened.

So, here's the table on the top-20 performers in adjusted total offensive value through games played this past weekend. There are some surprises -- no doink -- and I'll throw some super important thoughts at you after the jump.

1. T. Schreiber Princeton 15.62 11. L. Schuss Ohio State 12.03
2. W. Manny UMass 14.62 12. M. Matthews Denver 12.02
3. T. Hull Navy 14.25 13. M. Antinozzi Binghamton 11.83
4. P. Baum Colgate 13.23 14. C. Rice Marist 11.73
5. B. Eisenreich Bucknell 12.85 15. W. Casertano Villanova 11.57
6. G. Kaleikau Delaware 12.64 16. Z. Palmer Hopkins 11.52
7. D. Tunney Dartmouth 12.62 17. S. Giourmetakis Canisius 11.40
8. J. Resetarits Albany 12.52 18. S. Stanwick Virginia 11.36
9. K. Matisz Robert Morris 12.28 19. R. Church Drexel 11.32
10. M. Sawyer Loyola 12.21 20. J. Conneely Penn 11.26

More after the jump.
  • Right off the top: As I noted, it is a little early for this; there are a bunch of teams that have only played three or four games this season. I know this, you know this. The sample size isn't great but it still paints a relatively decent picture of which players are generating points at high rates on a per-possession basis.
  • You want to freak out about Steele Stanwick's ranking. I know you do because I've seen the emails. The biggest factor impacting Stanwick's position is that Virginia has played the nation's 48th-hardest schedule this season in terms of opposing defenses faced. This will obviously improve and, accordingly, so should Stanwick's place among college lacrosse's finest. So, calm down, psycho.
  • There's a reason that College Crosse gives out the Will Manny Being Will Manny Award in the "Weekend in Stick" pieces. Even when you don't adjust for defenses faced, Manny finishes in the top-two in the cohort. Shasta!
  • Dartmouth's Drew Tunney is the reason that I like tempo-free measures over tempo-included measures. On a tempo-included basis (per-game), Tunney is tied for 16th-nationally in points-per-game. On a tempo-free basis, Tunney comes out seventh overall. The reason for this is that the Big Green have only played 107 offensive possessions this season. Over the course of 100 possessions -- less than three games' worth of offensive possessions for Dartmouth (about 2.8 games) -- Tunney will produce over 12.5 points by himself. For comparison purposes, Delaware's Grant Kaleikau has used 260 offensive possessions to produce a similar adjusted total offensive value score. You don't see this when you look at tempo-included measures as Kaleikau, superficially, appears to have generated more production this season with a 4.43 points-per-game value against Tunney's 4.0 points-per-game output. Tempo-free for me! (They are both, however, quite spectacular and Kaleikau should take no gruff because of how things are measured.)

See anything else that is making you scratch your head? The comments are yours.