In the eyes of Tempo-Free Lacrosse, there are essentially three phases of the game that can lead to team success: offense, defense, and possession.
In 2012, Detroit was average at one of them (defense) and well below-average at the other two. I’ve already talked about one way in which the Titans can improve in possession, and it’s time to shift focus to the offense.
The offense was bad. The Titans ranked No. 52 nationally out of 61 teams, scoring a goal on only .2506 of their offensive possessions (adjusted for schedule strength). You’d expect them to struggle against some of the best teams on the schedule, and they did: against Ohio State and Georgetown, they scored less than 17% of the time.
The bigger problem is that they managed to score only on .1622 of their possessions against Manhattan’s No. 44 defense nationally, and on barely more than .2121 against VMI, one of the worst defenses in the nation.
Score more goals, win more games: it’s that simple.
I’m of the opinion that Bill Tully was a poor hire for the Titans, not only because of his program fit, but also because of his subpar pedigree as an offensive coordinator. I expressed skepticism when he was hired, and Detroit’s offense didn’t improve at all, despite adding another year of experience and some talented pieces to the roster.
Of course, the scheme itself can be drawn into question, but there was also the availability of some of those pieces (or lack thereof) that also played a role. I’ve already broken down how the offense played last year with and without Joel Matthews, and he’s not the only member of the O that was in and out of the lineup.
Hiring a new offensive coordinator (as-yet unannounced) and having an offseason to presumably get healthy – and build chemistry throughout the unit – can only help the offense.
Coming into 2012, it was expected that the Titans had the most upside for improvement of any team in the nation (perhaps the biggest part of what made the final record so disappointing). They lost only a couple players from the 2011 roster, and re-added Joel Matthews to the lineup, along with some talented incoming players.
The improvement didn’t come, but could it just be a year late? Here’s a look at some of the 2011 offenses in the same range as Detroit’s 2011 mark. As you can see, most did not perform as poorly on offense the following year.
Tthe vast majority of programs in Detroit’s offensive range (I went with 10 in either direction of their mark, which was No. 43 nationally) improved their output from year-to-year. Obviously Loyola is the standout in terms of improvement, but only four programs (including Lafayette, who barely fell into the range) saw a decrease in offensive efficiency. On average, programs improved from a .2450 to a .2705 efficiency mark.
For teams in the lower half of the country, that’s the expectation: improvement to regress toward the mean. If Detroit improved only .0255 in that mark in 2013, that would see them score about 14 more goals if their pace was the exact same. For a team that lost four games last year by two or fewer goals, that can have a significant effect on the win column.