Here's the background to this 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 the world of lacrosse isn't just rainbows and eyeballs made of jellybeans).
Austin Geisler is Superhuman
Austin Geisler is up to SECOND in the NCAA in saves per game (13.55)! #GoHPU #ASunMLAX pic.twitter.com/y3jOdBehIQ— High Point Panthers (@HighPointSports) April 7, 2014
Wonderful! Let's dig into this a little bit:
Truth Factor: Pretty truthful. Geisler has played 99 percent of High Point's minutes in the crease this season and the Panthers have seen their keepers generate a boatload of saves this season:
|METRIC||HIGH POINT||NATIONAL RANK||NATIONAL AVG.|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||45.70||1||33.61|
|Team Save Percentage||60.16%||6||52.00%|
Context: It's important to note here that only 15 teams yield more shots per defensive opportunity than High Point and only four teams yield a greater ratio of shots on goal to total shots than High Point. Geisler is making a crazy number of stops both over the course of 60 minutes per outing and on a per-possession basis. Without Geisler standing strong between the pipes the Panthers could be in a really rough defensive position. Get that man some IcyHot.
Ignored Ickiness Note: High Point has played a schedule ranked just 56th nationally in opposing offenses faced. The Panthers' have faced just one team -- UMBC (17th) -- ranked in the top 20 in adjusted offensive efficiency. Geisler has been a machine this season, but High Point hasn't seen an explosive slate of opposing offenses -- six of the team's 11 opponents this season rank 45th or worse in adjusted offensive efficiency -- and that is arguably giving Geisler a cushion to succeed.
Albany's Nuclear Offense
MLAX: @UAlbanyLacrosse is 1st in scoring offense at 14.9 goals per game #AEMLAX— America East (@AmericaEast) April 8, 2014
Amazing! Let's chew this to bits.
Truth Factor: The distorting nature of pace strikes again (sort of)! No team in the nation plays more possessions per 60 minutes of play than the Great Danes (75.64). The volume of possessions that Albany plays has, once again, assisted the team's goals per game average, but that's not the end of the story for the Danes -- Albany is highly efficient with the bean. The Great Danes rank fourth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency at 40.65 goals per 100 offensive opportunities (trailing only Denver, Loyola, and North Carolina) and are a machine with the ball thanks to their Thompson Trio power plant. When you yank out the pace the Danes are still a monster offensive team, they're just not atop the leaderboard.
Context: Here's Albany's offensive profile:
|METRIC||ALBANY||NATIONAL RANK||NATIONAL AVG.|
|Adjusted Offensive Efficiency||40.65||4||30.92|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.14||27||1.10|
|Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Offensive Opportunity||58.41%||35||58.50%|
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate||35.56%||5||27.94%|
|Opponent Save Percentage||42.02%||4||52.27%|
|Offensive Assist Rate||23.85%||3||17.42|
|Extra-Man Posture Reliance||14.77%||20||12.94%|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||37.94||6||46.26|
|Strength of Schedule: Opposing Defenses Faced||30.84||30||31.00|
This is a team that has (1) valued the ball at a level that defies the stereotype that has dogged Albany in recent seasons, (2) murdered opposing offenses with ball movement and a willingness to share the ball, (3) shot the ball well despite a willingness to unload attempts, and (4) relied a bit on man-up opportunities to create tallies, but is more than capable of generating goals in even situations. The team's offense is concentrated destruction, even if it isn't necessarily at the top of the efficiency -- or per-game -- charts.
Ignored Ickiness Note: Albany's offense has sputtered in their last three losses this season. While maintaining offensive efficiency values close to their adjusted average in defeats to Syracuse and Drexel early in the year, the Danes' last three defeats -- to Bryant, Canisius, and Johns Hopkins -- have seen Albany's offense progressively worsen in losing efforts:
|OPPONENT||DATE||ALBANY RAW OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY||FINAL SCORE|
|Bryant||March 15th||35.48||11-12 (L)|
|Canisius||March 25th||32.26||10-14 (L)|
|Johns Hopkins||April 4th||20.00||8-13 (L)|
These opponents are ranked 12th, 37th, and fifth, respectively, in adjusted defensive efficiency. That's somewhat concerning for an offense that put 25 on the board against Massachusetts in early March and has turned in less-than-expected results against some decent defenses in recent losses.