This is not yer poppa’s Rumble.
Nor yer momma’s. Nor any version of the Rumble we’ve yet seen.
This is Anthony Nuñez’s Rumble. After the Rumble played their first season under the stewardship of Daniel Quaranta, Nuñez stepped up as head coach in 2014 with a roster of many of the same players from the 2013 season. The team also kept its core offensive and defensive principles; it takes more than one season to adapt to a new playing style.
Now, in his second season,Nuñez has been able to put his stamp on the roster and the strategy of the Rumble. A basic notion of what they’ve lost:
Their losses are more variable than any of the other teams in the conference. The Current had most of their losses focused on the defensive side, as did the Whitecaps, while the Spinners had very little turnover across the board. The Rumble, on the other hand, are losing over 40 percent of their assists, throws, completions, incompletions and total points played while also losing over 50 percent of their defensive points played. At the same time they are losing a very small percentage of goals scored and blocks.
The obvious loss here is Isaac Saul who leads the team in assists, throws, completions, catches, incompletions and offensive points played. Then again, he served as the apex handler for an offense which consistently failed to throw into the end zone, let alone score a goal. The Rumble also conceded the most break opportunities per offensive possession:
|Team||EZ % Poss.||Opp. D Poss./O Point|
All of this will likely result in the return of 2013 MLU MVP Chris Mazur to an apex handler role, barring the unlikely emergence of another handler of his talent.
Still, the Rumble are retaining players responsible for over 73 percent of the goals scored from last season, including five of the six to score in double digits: Michael Hennessy (10), Dave Vuckovich (15), Ben Faust (14), Mazur (14) and Robbie Gillies (18) and 10 of the top 12 overall goal-scorers. This team has reformed its core identity by retaining many of the downfield threats from years past (though the loss of the versatile Jack Marsh is uniquely damaging) while changing the composition of the group tasked with delivering the disc to those cutters.
On the defensive side, the Rumble have lost the highest percentage of points played in the league at 52.5 percent by seeing 11 of its top 15 in defensive points played depart. However, they retain three of the top four (Joe Anderson, Sean Murray and Marques Brownlee) in points played as well as the top three block generators (Anderson, Brownlee and Quinn Hunziker). Considering that Hunziker was injured for much of last season, if the Rumble roll out Anderson, Brownlee, Hunziker and Sean Murray as the core of their D-rotation, they’ll be starting from a position of power.
Then again, New York’s goal this season has to be more than generating blocks. They’ll need to get the defense on the field in the first place and convert any break opportunities created. The New York D-rotation played the fewest points (179, compared to 232 for D.C.), had the fewest possessions (110 compared to D.C.’s 161) and scored the fewest goals (30, compared to D.C.’s 116) of any D-rotation in the conference. However, if we consider the number of D-possessions per D-point played, the gap is much smaller as all D-rotations averaged over .6 and under .7 possessions per point played. There are two tiers of teams with Boston and D.C. nearly reaching .70 while Philadelphia and New York hover near .62. When we look further, the meaningful difference is in the conversion rate:
|Team||DG % D Poss.||DG % D Points|
The offensive efficiency for both O- and D-rotations as the biggest issue facing New York in 2015. This is clearly backed up by the one stat most correlated to success in Eastern Conference: Points Per Game. D.C. averaged 21.6 PPG, Boston and Philadelphia averaged 20 and New York averaged a paltry 16. In order to shore up their offensive side, some role changes along the lines of what Boston has done through their first games may be in order.
The Rumble were the only team to average under five passes per possession on offense and under 4.9 passes per possession on defense. They completed the lowest percentage of potentially goal-scoring passes (71.03 percent on O, 57.69 percent on D) while throwing the fewest passes into the end zone. They generated the fewest D possessions. The Rumble were, simply put, the worst team by far in 2014 in most if not all categories. So it makes a ton of sense that they’re a team with significant turnover at many meaningful positions.
We’ll see a new New York this season, but whether it will be better than the last version is known only by time-travelers and gods. What we can say for sure is that there is more room for the Rumble to improve than for any other team in the conference.