Detroit’s offense has had its spectacular moments (a .500 offensive efficiency mark against Quinnipiac) and its low moments (a .218 mark against VMI – previously the country’s worst non-Mercer/Wagner defense). There are several possible explanations for bad offense in a given contest: weather, quality of opposition, defensive style, and sometimes you just have a bad day.
One thing, however, stands out. The Titans’ offense is superior with Joel Matthews in the mix.
That’s hardly a controversial point. Adding another excellent player (probably the best offensive threat on the team, when available) to the lineup is certain to improve the unit as a whole. However, the difference between the offense with and without Matthews is stark: this team relies on him.
As you can see, the Titans’ offense is scoring better – per the raw numbers – when Matthews is in the lineup. Of note, their four games without Matthews (including three disappointing losses) have come against some of the worst defenses on the schedule. No. 59 VMI, No. 34 Bellarmine, No. 42 Jacksonville, and No. 45 Manhattan should be less capable of keeping you off the scoreboard than No. 4 Ohio state or No. 19 Siena, for example. The difference between adjusted offensive efficiencies is stark: .214 (over the season, this would be third-worst in the country) without Matthews, .248 (to be fair, still bottom-10) with him in the lineup.
Oddly, the UDM offense is actually assisting on more of its shots without Matthews than it was with him in the lineup. Typically, a high assist rate represents a smoother and ultimately more effective offense, but that’s not true in every instance, and this case is one of the exceptions. Again, that could simply be a product of defenses faced, as well.
Despite missing nearly a third of the team’s games, Matthews leads Detroit in assists (15) and points (39), and is second to Shayne Adams in goals (24 to Adams’s 32).
While the circumstances of Matthews’ absences are mysterious (other than the Jacksonville game in which he was automatically suspended for fighting during the Siena contest), the team is clearly much more potent offensively with him on the field. If he can get his act together and see the field this weekend, it’s likely UDM’s best – or only – shot at taking home the MAAC Tournament title.