this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
masquerading as The Mathlete's retarded cousin
Believe it or not, Michigan lacrosse is halfway through Season One. Seven games in the books, seven games in front. That makes it a good time to do math-things with the sport.
I've developed - well, developed is a strong word as it's not totally finished - I'm developing a KenPomish O-rating system for lacrosse. It's not totally finished because it doesn't yet account for strength of opponent, but I'm working on that. If you want a full rundown of how it works, you can click here. [/semi-shameless hit whoring]
The basic gist is that the eventual O-rating number represents a team's scoring in a 100-possession game of lacrosse, and that the D-rating is the defensive mirror image. It's based on three efficiency stats:
-- faceoff win percentage
-- clearing percentage (how good you are at getting the ball from the defensive end to the offensive end)
-- scoring efficiency (how good you are at converting offensive possessions into goals)
Michigan's offensive efficiency numbers so far this season, and the D-I averages, are as follows:
And the same for the defense:
|Opp. Faceoff %||56.4%||50%|
|Opp. clearing %||74.6%||82.9%|
|Opp. conversion %||39.2%||32.2%|
There are 61 D-I teams; Michigan is 52nd on offense and 53rd on defense. They're roughly a standard deviation below average on offense and slightly more than one below (above?) average on defense.
None of this comes as much surprise. The bright spot? Michigan's ride. They're allowing opponents to successfully clear the ball less than three-quarters of the the time. The ride is ranked 4th in the country, behind only Hopkins, Denver, and Army.
The worst two stats I see: probably clearing, and defensive conversion rate. The latter has slightly improved of late, I would say partly due to a change in net from Westerhold to Emil Weiss, and partly due to the competition (Mercer.) Clearing remains a big problem. Michigan simply has trouble with this. Only Mount St. Mary's and Wagner are worse. This is an issue regardless of opponent; Michigan only cleared 2/3 of chances against Mercer. It's likely the most obvious manifestation of club athletes vs. D-I athletes, since clearing is lacrosse's "open-field" game.
For reference and posterity, here are the O and D ratings of the teams on Michigan's schedule. I've bolded those numbers which are above (or below, on D) the D-I average of 14.48.
|Mount St. Mary's||14.93||15.12|
Keep in mind that since these numbers are unadjusted for strength of schedule, they're not 100% reliable as to who's actually the toughest opponent. But they do reflect reality regarding who's played the best.
The most beatable remaining opponent? Rutgers. They have a similar profile to Jacksonville - slightly worse, in fact - and the Dolphins were thisclose to being Michigan's first victim this season. Mount St. Mary's is also a possibility, and then - surprisingly - Ohio, who's been disappointing this year. A loss to Robert Morris is the Buckeyes' low point so far. They knocked off Denver, but have been in a major offensive slump since. Still, it's unlikely (as we knew) that we'll end up with more than two wins.
I'll update this as the season goes on, and I expect by the end of the year I'll have figured out a decent way to adjust this for strength of schedule. Also on the project list: finding the best exponent for a Pythagorean calculation.
As I was reading through fellow fans' reactions to recent recruitment news, someone had mentioned that 'recruiting doesn't really matter.' I'd read that several places, and in the back of my mind I probably didn't believe it. So, I decided to see if the quality of the class as measured through the eyes of a scouting site really did matter.
Turns out, it may not really matter. (Note: This isn't an end all be all of an analysis, and I'm not an expert on Statistics, Recruiting or Women. I also only looked at the top 12 as this takes a lot of time, plus it afforded me another opportunity to disrespect Ohio.)
What?! How dare thee suggest class rank doesn't matter! I'd kindly refer you to the table.
What is this table that thee speaketh of? Uh, chart?
|2011 AP||Team||Average Class||Difference||2011 Rank - 2007/8 Class||2012 Class||2011 Class||2010 Class||2009 Class||2008 Class||2007 Class|
Alabama and LSU have consistently strong classes, and the oversigning debacle probably helps them out some more. They along with USC seem to perform commensurate with expectations.
Some of the interesting items are the massive difference between expectations and results for a few select schools: Boise St, Michigan St, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma St and Notre Dame. You can see for yourselves, but Boise St rocks it with classes that are rarely in the top 50%. Their average class is sitting at 70. Texas and Notre Dame have the opposite problem.
You clearly need to have quality players. However, strong coaching, an eye for talent and knowing how to use and motivate that talent go far. Also, it may suggest that these recruiting services "one size fits all" approach to ranking players and classes is largely irrelevant to a team's performance. There's a long list of 5* failures and world beating 3* guys.
I didn't do a regression analysis as I'm a) lazy, b) not The Mathlete and c) things seem fairly obvious after perusing the data. Also, any laser focus on a single aspect of a team's record will probably miss the forest for the trees, but I'm just trying to provide some evidence on this point specifically.
Let's talk data sources and definitions. I used the final AP Ranking for this past season. The class ranking data is from Scout. I imagine it would be easy enough to bump this against some of the other scouting services to see what they say, as well as perhaps the Coach's Poll and whatnot, but I my imaginary army of minions was busy doing something else. So, this is what we're left with.
The "Average Class" is the class average from 2007 through 2011. I felt that the 2012 rankings, while somewhat finalized, aren't really part of this equation, yet. More just a "that's kinda interesting" rather than a "I think there's something there."
The "Difference" is the difference between that aforementioned "Average Class" and the final 2011 AP Ranking.
The "2011 Rank - 2007/8 Class" is the 2011 AP Ranking minus the average of the 2007 and 2008 Recruit Class.
So, what do you think?