Photo by Burt Granofsky – Ultiphotos.com
Huzzah, the final week of the season! Really though, as with every season and I can’t believe it is nearly over. It has felt both an eternity and to have gone by before I can even get my head around it. The playoff fields are set and we enter this weekend with little on the line. We saw MLU history as the first game ever was canceled, giving both teams a victory. While I’m not thrilled with that outcome, it really had no effect on the end of the season. The only major impact it could have is if the Rumble pull of a win against the Whitecaps this weekend as it would effect the end of season standings.
Tonight we are going to be enjoying a ‘Little Sumpin’ Sumpin Ale (Lagunitas Brewing Company).
Appetizers – Turnovers
Well I hope you enjoyed the field maps as much as I did last week because we are diving back in this week. Instead of just focusing on goals I thought we’d take a look at turn overs as well. Apparently this was a great weekend to look at turnovers, because their were a bunch. Part of that came from the terrible weather in Philadelphia and part of it came from the west coast just grinding their defenses. Turnovers can happen in a variety of ways from blocks and stalls to throwaways and drops.
|Team||Turnovers||Throw Aways||Throws into Blocks||Drops|
Turnovers are part of the game and while we’d like to imagine our team having perfect offense that isn’t likely to happen. One thing that gets talked about fairly regularly is unforced errors. A lot of the time people think of unforced errors as throw aways and drops, but that isn’t always the case. When teams are playing hard defense they are going to force more errors, you’ll see that from teams rushing throws to not paying attention to catches and making drops. Yes they are errors on the side of the offense, but the caliber of the defense is going to dictate how many of these errors we see.
That said the number that jumps out the most to me from this last weekend is the Stags’ 9 drops. That is almost double any other team. No wonder we saw them struggling on offense. And compare that to the 17 throws into blocks from the Dogfish and you really see how much the Stags rely on their defense.
So with those numbers above in mind let’s take a look at last weekend’s games. Because of the canceled game between the Current and Whitecaps we’ll only be looking at three games (and I’m relieved because these take forever to put together). I’ve updated the maps with arrows for points (thank you Mike Grill for that suggestion). Circles in the endzone are goals, the two starbursts are this weekend’s callahans. The other big improvement this week is I’ve now included all turnovers. To make turnovers more even I only included where they were thrown from. This is mainly because without consulting with the stat team on all 151 turnovers from this weekend it is hard to always determine what counts as a block, drop or throw away. I’ll work on getting those cleared up. As well this week we should have slightly more accurate field graphics. When recording all the data I collected it by quarter so that I’d be less inclined to move data points right or left for clearer records, as such we have more data points right on top of each other. It’s a big field, but teams tend use it very particularly.
Dogfish at Rainmakers
Dogfish at Stags
Current at Spinners
An interesting thing I only realized after putting these together quarter by quarter is that when trading points teams only score in one endzone. That was most apparent to me in the Current/Spinners game where we had a clear up wind down wind situation where teams were trading in the beginning and then both teams went on runs. Once a team was on a run I was working both endzones. Also an interesting look from that game is a large dead zone in the right side endzone. With the wind really limiting that side of the field we only saw a few strikes deep into the endzone with most of the goals on the near side corner from fairly short throws.
Before we go any further though I’d like to look at of this weekend’s data combined.
First thing that strikes me is that without numbers the goals/assists graphics could be a lot smaller. After last weekend I was expecting to see the turnovers cluster closer to the sideline, but instead it almost seems that we have far more turnovers in the middle of the field. While doing the Rainmakers turnovers it was remarkable how almost all of their turnovers occurred right down the middle of the field.
With such a wide field you’d expect that as teams forced sidelines they’d be getting more turnovers by compressing the field, but perhaps because the field is so wide teams are looking to swing it wide more often. Also to note again that the X’s mark where the turnover was thrown from, not where it was blocked/dropped. In future versions where the disc ultimately was turned over seems just as important as where the turnover originated.
Another thing I’ll have to look at is how often short field turnovers lead to goals. We see three throws from the back line that lead to turnovers – actually two lead to callahans, the third was also converted for a point. As we’ve discussed before, not all turnovers are created equally.
On Tap – Matchups
Everyone gets to play their final game of the regular season this weekend. Standings in the east won’t be affected, but out west the Nighthawks and Dogfish will be fighting it out to claim third place. While these games might not matter as much as they have earlier in the season, I expect we will be seeing every team still playing hard and looking for that win. The athletes out on these fields didn’t get where they are by not having that competitive drive. They want to win and they aren’t going to be looking past this weekend.
Rumble at Whitecaps
If I expected any sandbagging this weekend I’d look for it out east. While the Whitecaps are going to be missing a few of their bigger names like Christian Foster and Jack Hatchett they are still a fantastically deep team. They are going to have no trouble taking care of the Rumble in Hormel Stadium. The Rumble were able to get up on the Whitecaps in their last meeting, but even with that five point lead they weren’t able to keep up with the Whitecaps.
Nighthawks at Dogfish
As the only game with any real meaning this weekend it should be a fun one. The Dogfish are finally showing life at the end of the season, giving both the Stags and the Rainmakers a run for their money on the double header weekend. Clearly the Dogfish still haven’t some mental game issues after giving up a seven point lead. Missing Devon Williams and James Yeager are going to be big blows for the Dogfish. But playing at home and against the Nighthawks should see the Dogfish with their first finish out of 4th place in three years.
Spinners at Current
While I fully expect the players to be doing everything they can do to win in this game, I’m curious as to how the coaches are going to approach this game. While the Spinners are going to be preparing for the playoffs the Current will be looking to improve on their three year plan. You only get so much game time per season and the Current are going to value this last game of the season.
Rainmakers at Stags
It’s not a preview of the Western Conference Finals. While it is going to be the same two teams I can’t imagine that these teams are going to approach both games the same way. We haven’t seen these two teams matched up since week 2 and both have significantly improved. The rivalry between Portland and Seattle should give us an interesting game, but I imagine that come playoffs we’ll see a whole different game.
Last Call – Start your Stars
If you made it through the first week of fantasy playoffs, congratulations. That was no easy feat. I imagine the canceled game ruined more than a few teams shots at the championship. Sometimes its better to be lucky than good. Last weekend I was neither good nor lucky and got stomped mainly due to an all-star performance by Khalif El-Salaam in the second half of the game. This weekend your best bet is to start your stars. Go with the guys that got you here don’t try anything fancy. Good luck.