Photo by Brandon Wu – UltiPhotos.com
With four games every weekend from now until the end of the regular season, we are ensconced in the stretch run. Only Portland is guaranteed a winning record, and no team is guaranteed a losing record. No seasons are over…
Short Sips of Hot Bitter Blackness. A hint of far-off stone-fruit sweetness. A smoky thickness lingers from the roast.
New York has 22 break goals.
Peter Woodside has 19 break goals.
In basketball it is oft-repeated wisdom that the defensive possession doesn’t end until the rebound is collected. It seems obvious, but in ultimate a defensive possession doesn’t end until a break goal is scored (or the clock runs out). At first glance, the weaponization of Woodside is far and away the largest difference maker in terms of making hay of break opportunities (his 19 break goals are 12 more than the three players tied for second with seven). With a closer look at break goals and assists, we see that while Woodside remains the gold standard, it is no longer a one-horse race. There are six players with 10 or more break points (G + A):
|Player||Team||Break Points||Break Goals||Break Assists|
To take it deeper, let’s see who is producing the most points per defensive point played (minimum 20 defensive points played)
|Player||Team||BreakPoint/Def. Points Played|
Klein and D. Baer are the other two players to appear on both lists. The three of them could be more different, but it would take work. Woodside is a downfield specialist, Klein does some of everything, and Baer is a handler. It doesn’t matter how you affect the game, but that you affect the game.
If we consider the other side (players who have put up the most offensive points or holds) the list essentially reads like a who’s who of the overall leaderboard. Instead, let’s make time a factor. Who scores points the quickest?
Minutes per point scored (minimum 20 minutes played):
It is certainly an imperfect metric, but it does give an interesting second layer to the data. It self-limits by way of defensive points generally taking longer than offensive points, but if we only take goals into consideration, Woodside makes another appearance:
Minutes Per Goal (minimum 20 minutes played)
When it comes down to it, Woodside is a unique player who is so effective at the thing he is best at (scoring goals after the turn) that he shifts the balance of the game in his team’s favor and shows up on leaderboards he has no right being on: Each of the other players in the top five are offensive cutters.
Woodside is my pick for defensive player of the year.
Tastes good so far. Future health consequences are sticky.
The 100% Club!
We dropped those with drops or with fewer than 10 throws:
There are 28 other candidates for the end of the season club who have yet to throw 10 passes and have yet to drop a disc. More telling than the 100% Club, however, may be the leaderboard for completion percentage (minimum 50 throws):
Of the top five, both Portland and Philadelphia have two.
Ah, the core of the non-veganoid breakfast. Boiled. Scrambled. Poached. Fried. Loco Moco’d.
It has been trying to attempt to figure out what is wrong with the D.C. Current in 2015. It has been trying because the harder one searches for a complex reason, the clearer it becomes that the problem is simple: They do not complete enough of their passes. This is such a simple thing that we’re likely to look past it in favor of some bigger problem. In the case of D.C., some numbers can help illustrate exactly how it is a problem.
If we break each team into four groups of players based on completion percentage (100%, 99-90%, 89-80%, <80%), this is what we get:
The Current have seven players who have complete 100 percent of their passes for a total of 37 passes. This, however, is where it goes downhill for D.C. as they have a mere eight players who complete passes at a rate from 90-99%: David Cranston (95.3), Chuck Cantone, John Agan, Calvin Oung, Jeff Wodatch, Lloyd Blake, Alan Kolick, Freddy Tsai (91.3). This is the second-smallest slice like this in the league, leading only New York’s miserable *two* and sitting at less than half of league-leading Portland. This also leaves 15 Current players completing passes at a sub-90 percent rate. Which is, again, better than only one team: New York.
Then again, it isn’t necessarily how many players are in each group, but how many throws are in each group:
Fortunately for D.C., their three highest-volume throwers are Kolick, Oung and Blake who are each over 90 percent. Unfortunately, the player with the third most throws is Peter Prial (91/111 for 82.00%). Joining him in the offensive rotation below 85 percent are Tom Doi (38/47 80.80%) and Markham Shofner (49/64, 76.90%). Aside from these strikingly low rate for key pieces of the offense, D.C. leads the league in passes thrown by players with a completion rate of under 80 percent. Sure, some of this is related to the end of period plays in which some players are affected more than others, but this exists across all teams and is in this way approximately a wash. Though in specific cases, this could result in a large drop in overall completion percentage.
The real winners here, as they are for most throwing statistics, are Philadelphia and Portland, each of whom have over 1400 throws thrown by players who complete passes at over 90 percent. The Spinners also boast the fewest passes thrown by players who complete passes at under 80 percent.
To look at this data one more way, this is the breakdown by percentage of a team’s throws thrown by each tier of players:
It also appears that the West is better at not having bad throwers. A total of five players went 16/23 passes at 69.56 percent. In the East? 17 players combined to go 266/353 for 75.35 percent.
Stake with your eggs?
Philly can guarantee a winning record, New York can guarantee a losing record. D.C., Boston and Seattle can climb over .500. The Dogfish can prove it wasn’t a fluke when they beat Portland. Portland can go 3-1 versus the Dogfish on the season. The Nighthawks have their chance to get a second win against Seattle in three games.
Waffles or Pancakes?
Choose… but choose wisely.
D.C. 20 @ Philadelphia 19
This is the last chance for D.C. They need this game in a way that Philly simply doesn’t. As much as Philadelphia wants to crush D.C., that is no guarantee of results. This should be a tight game throughout as D.C. fights for their playoff lives. With a week off to prepare, the Current are likely to come with some tweaks on O and D which the Spinners haven’t yet seen. While the confidence of the Spinners is sky-high after last week’s destruction of the Rumble, it will be a different set of circumstances when the Current come to town.
San Francisco 17 @ Portland 21
Portland is just better than San Francisco. And outside of the windier environs of the Bay Area, the Stags won’t be prone to as many miscues as they were in their lone loss of the season. The Dogfish have come together as the season has continued, but unless they have luck on their side, they are no match for the size of the Stags.
New York 15 @ Boston 22
I will be adapting a show-me stance with New York for the rest of the season. I’ve penciled them in to finish 1-9 and will not pick them to win any more games. I think this is the definition of writing a team off.
Seattle 20 @ Vancouver 18
Early in the season I was sure that the Nighthawks would rally into something fearsome. While they are not yet eliminated from the playoffs, they are anything but fearsome. Erratic and therefore possibly fear-inducing for their fans, the Nighthawks could beat anyone on a given weekend. But I doubt they will be up to keep pace with a Seattle team which has been playing at a high level for the last four weeks while the Nighthawks have lost games by four, three and eight before being granted the mercy of a bye.
Beverage of Choice
Players or matchups to watch.
Who’s on First for New York?
There is a certain perverse fun in the challenge of having different rosters for different games as a coach. You can try folks in new roles, roll out new looks and learn more about your team. As the season goes along and little seems to work aside from catching a team for a day game after a night game, the urge to tamper with everything becomes stronger. There are strong arguments to both stand pat and to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Last weekend we saw the shuffling of roles as Chris Mazur played more defense, Joe Anderson played more offense and Sean Murray returned to the team amongst a host of other changes. This weekend… I’d wager that everything is in play as the Rumble need to find an escape from Hotblack Desiato’s stuntship.
Mark Burton and Khalif El-Salaam vs. Morgan Hibbert et al
The recent Rainmakers run has been sparked in part by this duo on offense. Last time around versus the Nighthawks, El-Salaam and Burton combined for six goals and six assists and 26/28 for 92.86 percent. The Nighthawks must find a way to disrupt the ability of these two two-way threats before addressing the rest of the Rainmakers offense. Hibbert will be the backbone of any scheme the Nighthawks use, and checking in to see if he is locked tightly on to a particular player or playing looser help-defense role will inform us of their intentions.
D.C. Defense vs. Philadelphia Offense
This will determine the game, as it near-always does when these two teams meet. The only team which Philly has beaten by more than two points is New York (5 and 15). The rest of their games have victories of one, one, two and a loss of three. In fact, they have only won two games over three seasons by more than three. This is the sign of a team which relies on its offensive execution to win games rather than the defense running their opponent off of the field.
The Place to Be
Medford, Massachusetts! I always enjoy these trips north. But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not tell me anything about the UEFA Champions League Final. I’m breaking my rule about not watching sports on tape (except for work, obviously) so that my brother and I can watch Juventus and Barcelona after the Rumble and the Whitecaps finish up. This is one the great times of year: MLU, NBA Finals and UEFA Champions League Final!!