The Matthews Effect

Joel Matthews Detroit titans Lacrosse Marist Red Foxes

Matthews scores the game-winning goal against Marist in happier times

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.

With Matthews Without
Games 10 4
Possessions 386 121
Goals 102 29
Off. Eff. .264 .240
Assists 58 18
Assist Rate .569 .621

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.

This entry was posted in division 1 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Matthews Effect

  1. MichiganLacrosseNut says:

    Heard a rumour that after reading this the Detroit coaches have cancelled the Hotel reservations and the team is staying home.

  2. MichiganLacrosseNut says:

    While everyone hopes Joel makes the trip to New York it is truly not a one man show as Tim seems to think….take out Joel’s Quinnipiac and Canisius games and the his stats look a bit different 3 pts a game and 1.7 goals a game. He is an important piece of the puzzle but not the only piece. And as for Detroit embarrassing themselves at VMI you failed to mention the amount of quality games they have played (or ignored) #10 in the country Lehigh wins 6-2 (hmmm maybe VMI can play a little Defense) Siena wins by 1…Jacksonville wins by 1….Marist wins by 4….Canisius wins by 2….So yes a disappointing lose but not quite as earth shattering as it is made out to be. After watching every game this year its obvious we needed to improve on ….faceoffs…..clears…unforced errors….and penalties…..a better shot selection would also be helpful (getting it into the right peoples sticks especially when open) Nothing is guaranteed this coming weekend but hopefully we can improve on some obvious shortcoming and play TITAN Lacrosse.

    • Tim says:

      I’m not saying it’s a one man show. However, it’s undeniable, based on the performances with and without Joel in the lineup, that he’s a huge boost to the team. The Titan offense is better with him on the field, and there’s no question about it.

      While there are plenty of other talented players, especially Shayne, nobody has as much an impact on the 2011 Titan offense as does Matthews, and the stats bear that out. All four of the games he missed were contests that, based on the season-long numbers, UDM should have won. Without him in the lineup, three went down as losses.

      Are they dead in the water without him? Of course not. But it’s also extremely unlikely they pull an upset of Siena unless he’s on the field.

    • Tim says:

      As for VMI’s defense, the stats don’t lie. Including an adjustment for strength of schedule (so yes, I did in fact take into account the amount of “quality games” they played) the Keydets’ defense is fourth-worst in the country.

      That’s a bad defense, and saying that it’s not is simply being dishonest with yourself.

  3. john says:

    I agree that one player does not make a team… Detroit’s bigger issue is Health leading into the game Friday at Marist against Canisius. Hopefully the rest the staff gave players during the VMI game will pay off… Hopefully, Hebden, Houtby, Sibel and MaClean will be healthy…If Mathews plays, it will give them a boost.. Nothing would make me happier than to see the Titans get an NCAA birth… It will have to be earned… Getting back at Siena would be nice too..

  4. Pat says:

    Health? I think the bigger issue is coaching. This is a very disappointing regular season for UDM. I expected much more from the program this year.

    • Tim says:

      While the coaching was obviously far from perfect, there’s no denying that the Titans were anything but banged up all year.

      Joel Matthews, Tim Lehto, Joe MacLean, Jamie Hebden, and many others missed all or part of at least one game.

      • Pat says:

        “All or part of at least one game” doesn’t seem like much. Poor coaching had a much bigger impact on the entire season. Maybe some changes in the staff will take place in the off season.

        • Tim says:

          Matthews missed six games (all but one losses). “All or part of at least one game” is the tip of the iceberg.

          Four defensive starters missed the season-ending loss to Canisius – and the Titans still only lost by two (and it was the offense that let them down, not the D).

          I wholeheartedly agree with you that the coaching was less-than optimal – I predicted as much before the season – but there’s no denying that injuries were as big or bigger a part of UDM’s struggles this year.

          • Pat says:

            I agree with you. However, I don’t want the injuries to overshadow the poor coaching, not only from Tully, but from the entire staff.

          • MichiganLacrosseNut says:

            Really Tim the offence let the team down….sounds to me like the words of a frustrated long pole who wished he could score….Defence gave up 12 goals and would have been at least 16 or 17 had AJ not stood on his head (with most of the goals clean looks on goal) the offence put up ten goals should have been enough the way AJ was playing…Maybe you should watch a game..

          • Tim says:

            You know, I’m done trying to talk sense into someone who is either willfully ignorant of statistics, or simply has no idea what they mean.

            The stats don’t lie, the offense let the team down.

          • MichiganLacrosseNut says:

            Thanks for proving my point stop looking at stats and get out from behind the computer and see what really happens on a division 1 field…Stats are only part of the story…How many goals did the MAAC Offensive player of the year get in the semi final and final game…thats right not a 1….guess that makes him a bust..ha ha wrong defences go into big games with plans to stop the other teams top scorer thats the way it is…except our defence failed to stop any of the other teams big guns …fact…. if you were there you would have seen that with your own eyes our top scorer could not move without bumping into his defender kudos to the Golden Griffs for playing great close defense… just wondering why it wasn’t the same in our end….fact…..So for you to come out and say the defence played great and the offence sucked is a joke……Watch the game game sheets do not tell the whole STORY…Peace out till next year..

          • MichiganLacrosseNut says:

            PS l appreciate you taking a interest in Michigan Lax and hope that you will continue to do so….Just have a different thoughts about the strengths and weakness of the Detroit Lax club….Cheers

  5. Michiganlaxer says:

    Is this staff really as bad as you say they are?
    Lets look at the most similar startup in recent times: Robert Morris. It’s from a non hotbed location in a “rust belt” town without big time football, and no sunny beaches.

    VS D1 opponents their first four years looked like:
    2005 – 0-13
    2006 – 0-13
    2007 – 2-9 (Wagner/VMI)
    2008 – 3-11 (Wagner/Presbyterian/VMI)

    That’s 5 wins in 4 years. Zero post season appearances

    2009 – 0-10
    2010 – 3-12 (Presbyterian/VMI/Wagner) (looks alot like RMU’s 4th year)
    2011 – 6-10 MAAC finalists
    2012 – 6-9 MAAC Semifinals

    That’s 15 wins in 4 years with 2 post season appearances. 3 times the wins.

    RMU was 11-4 this year with wins over Ohio State, Hobart, UMBC. Not great teams this year, but teams with a heritage.

    • Pat says:

      Yes, the staff is bad. They let Tully come in and take control in the fall. Players became frustrated with Tully, tried to talk to Holtz, but he ignored them. You must admit, it was a VERY disappointing year for UDM. And now Tully is gone. He’s the scapegoat, and likely deserves to be. It doesn’t matter if you have a major football program or sunny beaches. Leadership and inpsiration make the difference. That’s what the team lost when Karweck left. So you tell me, what coach stepped up and inspired the team this year?

Comments are closed.