The anatomy of a big upset is complex, but the general blueprint usually stays the same: The favorite plays below their level of capability while the underdog plays above their head. (Duh.) The Friday afternoon Towson-High Point game, a 9-7 victory for the nascent Panthers program, didn't deviate too much from that script, although the specifics are -- as always -- unique. Towson was generating steam as a team that could do a little damage in THUNDERDOME! this season -- and the Tigers still can -- but if they operate as they did in North Carolina, it's going to be a long road for Shawn Nadelen to travel this season.
Let's pull apart the box score a little bit and see what we can see. (Hint: The things about Towson are ugly things.)
|TOWSON TIGERS||HIGH POINT PANTHERS|
|Functional Offensive Opportunities||23.00||33.00|
|Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio||79.31%||97.06%|
|Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities||13.00||15.00|
|Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Ratio||56.52%||45.45%|
|Lost Functional Offensive Opportunities Margin||+2.00||-2.00|
|Offensive Efficiency: Functional Opportunities||30.43||27.27|
|Efficiency Margin: Functional Opportunities||+3.16||-3.16|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||0.97||0.97|
|Raw Shooting Rate||25.00%||27.27%|
|Offensive Assist Ratio||71.43%||66.67%|
|Offensive Assist Rate||17.24||17.65|
|Extra-Man Postures per 100 Offensive Opportunities||13.79||5.88|
|Extra-Man Posture Reliance||28.57%||11.11%|
|Extra-Man Posture Conversion Rate||50.00%||50.00%|
|Penalties per 100 Opportunities||3.17||6.35|
|Caused Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities||20.59||34.48|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||65.52||47.06|
|Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||31.03||26.47|
|"Run-of-Play Work Rate"||34.92||31.75|
|"Run-of-Play Work Rate" Margin||+3.17||-3.17|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Possessions||35.29||37.93|
|Team Save Percentage||61.11%||57.14%|
Some brief thoughts:
- The story for Towson wasn't necessarily the possession margin deficit that the Tigers played with but rather what Towson was doing when given the opportunity to possess the ball and create offense. Look at the Tigers' functional offensive opportunities ratio value: Towson only advanced the ball into the attack box on about 80 percent of their chances to do so. Throwing away functional opportunities to make the scoreboard blink before even advancing the bean into a position to do so is a recipe for disaster, especially when the opponent doesn't play as loose with the ball (High Point was able to get the ball into the box on around 97 percent of its opportunities). Basically, if you can't create functional offensive opportunities, you can't create offense; when the opponent is able to create offense at a stronger rate, problems arise. And Towson had problems on Friday afternoon.
- Even when the Tigers were able to create a functional scoring opportunity, Towson was so sloppy with the ball that it didn't have a lot of impact on their ability to score. On the day, the Tigers lost almost 57 percent of their possessions in the box due to a turnover. We're not talking about Towson getting stoned by Austin Geisler in the cage for High Point (who was, again, very steady for the Panthers); we're talking about the Tigers committing unforced turnovers or having the bean ripped from their possession. In total, Towson lost 13 of their 23 functional offensive opportunities via a takeaway or giveaway; in totem, the Tigers committed an unforced turnover on 31 percent of their total offensive opportunities (not just functional) and were subject to a High Point caused turnover on around 34 percent of their total offensive opportunities (not just functional). That rate of dispossession -- almost 66 percent -- is a mark that only the worst teams in Division I approach, and with High Point keeping its turnover rate in check (the Panthers lost the bean on only about 47 percent of its offensive opportunities), the Tigers were in a hole that they couldn't will themselves out of.
- Towson's defense played fairly well on Friday, but it wasn't strong enough to overcome the disaster that was the Tigers' offense. Andrew Wascavage was respectable between the pipes for the Tigers, and while High Point wasn't especially efficient at scoring the ball, Towson did survive the volume to which the Panthers were generating opportunities. It's just this: A defense can only do so much when put in a position to continually stand strong because of lost opportunities at the other end of the field. It broke -- to a degree -- this past weekend.
Anyway, that's what I see. What do you guys see?