Let’s be frank: This is the most important game of the season for the DC Current and the NY Rumble. There is no tomorrow for the loser while the winner earns a playoff berth in the inaugural season of MLU play. In a sense, there is no precedent for this game. All bets are off; all results are in play.
That said, to understand where we are, we must understand what has come before. This is then a perfect time to dive into the stats for a more in-depth assessment of the season each team has put together.
Most of the broad-brush, season-long trends for NY and DC point to overall similarity:
On a per-game basis, these work out to:
At first blush, no large differences here either as each team averages 14 Throws per Goal. But pay attention to two season-long rates: Throws per Turnover and Catches per Drop. DC averages 11.90 Th/TO and 80.00 Cth/Dr. NY averages 9.67 Th/TO and 31.40 Cth/Dr. While a high-stakes game like this could see more drops due to mental pressure, NY seems more prone to unforced errors on the receiving end due to the presence of the top 5 droppers in the league and seven of the top eight on the roster: Dan Heijman leads the league with nine, Ben Faust and Chris Mazur have eight each, Aman Nalavade and Rob Baker have six each, and Markian Kuzmowycz and Kevin Terry have four each.
With that broad picture painted, let’s zoom in on a few players and their stats.
Both teams have hierarchical structures built around MVP-level players in DC’s Alan Kolick and NY’s Chris Mazur. Both Kolick and Mazur have been battling injuries over the season and were forced to leave the June 8th game in New York on that account. Kolick has tallied 40 points (10G, 30A), nine Ds, 394 throws, and a completion percentage of 95.43. Mazur has racked up 46 points (23G, 23A), six Ds, 337 throws, and a completion percentage of 92.58.
This means Mazur has been responsible for 17% of his team’s points, goals, assists, throws, completions, and turnovers. Kolick’s contribution has been more complex: He has accounted for 15% of his team’s points, 7% of goals, 23% of assists, 20% of both throws and completions, and 13% of Current turnovers. The usage rates are similar, but Kolick’s outstanding completion percentage takes pressure off the team as a whole.
Several other players stand out for their high-proportion contributions to their teams’ overall activity, both positively and negatively (Kolick and Mazur are included for comparison). Note that the first six columns indicate a player’s contribution (by percent) to the team’s performance in each category. The final column (completion percentage) measures each player’s completions relative to his own number of throws:
To delve deeper into the statistics, let’s focus on games between these two teams. The above — season-long statistics against all opponents — is a good foundation, but we’ll need to depart from it in order to understand further how the Current and the Rumble affect each other.
The game on May 18 (in NJ) was a 17-14 NY victory.
The game on June 8, also in NJ, was a 19-17 DC victory.
(Of note when considering the Current-Rumble series: Ben Faust did not play in the June 8th game, and Dan Heijman will not be available to play this weekend.)
Aggregate statistics over these match-ups:
Again, the numbers show very close to even. How stats were distributed from game-to-game, however, is telling. DC had eight Ds and six drops in their May 18 loss, compared with 16 Ds and one drop in their June 8 victory. NY players threw 206 passes — four of them dropped (48.25 Cth/Dr) — and made 11 blocks in the game they won, and threw 285 passes of which three were dropped (88.33 Cth/Dr) in the game they lost. The Rumble also collected 15 defensive blocks in the June 8 game.
At team level, all statistics point to NY being the more consistent team in these match-ups, scoring an identical number of points, having completion rates nearly identical to their season average, and tallying comparable numbers of drops and Ds. The only glaring difference for them is in the number of passes thrown, which may have resulted from receiving the pull more often — DC scored more goals in the second game. DC’s performance has been more variable: scores of 14 and 19 points, having one and six drops, and getting eight and 16 Ds.
One note that does stand out returns to the Cth/Dr rate of NY. Over the season, they have a rate of 31.40 Cth/Dr, while in games against DC, they have a rate of 65.43 Cth/Dr. Which rate represents the real Rumble may well determine the outcome of this weekend’s matchup.
How does player-level information about the series compare with individual stats from the season as a whole? DC’s Sean Keegan leads all scorers with 12 points (4G, 8A); NY’s Kevin Terry is the only other player in double digits with 10 points (2G, 8A). Surely this reflects (at least in part) the impact of injuries to Kolick and Mazur, but let’s take a look at the series percentages:
|Joe Smash Anderson||7.46||0.00||15.15||6.52||5.74||15.79||81.25|
For DC, Rob Dulabon is the lone new face on the impact leader board — he replaces Shofner — stepping up to score five goals over two games against NY. Only Wodatch has scored more (6) and only Mazur has as many over that span.
New York’s list looks quite different as Kuzmowycz, Anderson, and Murphy take the places of Faust, Cox, and Gillies. Kuzmowycz moved onto the board by scoring four goals and assisting on three others. Anderson assisted on four goals and threw six turnovers. The latter ties him with Lucas Murphy, also making his debut on this list.
So what the heck does all of this mean, anyway?
Fortunately for all of us (this writer especially), this isn’t a term paper; it’s a framework for understanding what happens next.
How will each team tweak and advance their strategies knowing that the long season — full of opportunities to recover from errors made — could be over, with just one shot to extend it? It’s exceedingly clear that each team has both a plan and a backup plan, players they rely on for every possession, and players who are unafraid to step up when their names are called.
In this one game, we’ll get the rubber match between two teams who have fought all season to get here. We’ll have MVP candidates, high-usage high-percentage players, low-usage high-risk players, and coaching staffs who have steadily improved their squads over the course of the season.
This is going to be a memorable game played by two relatively evenly matched teams. Whomever wins will truly have earned the playoff berth coming their way.
Come see the show at Washington-Lee HS in Arlington beginning at 4 pm! Stop by Carpool (4000 Fairfax Dr, Arlington, VA) starting at 1:30 pm for pregame libations, and meet back there after the game to relive the experience.