Friday, June 3, 2011

The Replacements


Yes Woody, Seniors will have to be replaced.

Zac and I (and our wives, and my child) drove out to Minneapolis for Memorial weekend, so we had lots of time to discuss sports (mostly Tigers baseball and Calvin hoops). We left Friday after work (with an expected 3:00 AM (EST) arrival time, so we needed to keep conversation going to ensure the driver stayed alert.

Anyway, one of the topics that came up was the outlook for the 2012 MIAA season. Who will be the favorite? Who’s going to fill out the top four? We couldn’t really decide, so we played a rousing game of “better or worse”. Our reactions for each teams was as follows:

Adrian: lots of young players – “better”.
Albion: losing two starters – perhaps “marginally worse”.
Alma: can’t get much worse – “even”.
Calvin: losing good players, but there’s a core of young talent – a biased “marginally better”.
Hope: losing Bowser, Dickerson, and Tanis – “worse”.
Kalamazoo: losing Ryan Clark – “worse”
Olivet: losing “everyone” – “much worse”
Trine: lots of young players – “better”

I’m not saying that this is accurate, but that’s what the gut told us without looking at rosters or playing time or scoring averages. We eventually figured the standings would look something like this:

1 – Calvin – The slight favorite, but not a lock.
2 – Hope – still a very good team. Could win the league or end up third.
3 – Adrian – Will be top three. Could challenge the top two, but they were “only” 7-7 last year.
4 – Albion – Because they’re always in the top four.
5 – Trine – They have enough young players to make a jump in the standings.
6 – Kalamazoo – Hard to replace Ryan Clark, but they won’t be at the bottom.
7 – Olivet – It’s going to be a long year. Losing a ton of talent.
8 – Alma – Still bad.

But I wanted to get a real look at who’s staying, and who’s leaving to get a better of idea of how difficult it will actually be for each team to find replacements. So I crunched some numbers.




2011 PPG2011 PPM%Min Return%PTS ReturnReturn PPGReturn PPM
Adrian
58.5
0.29
84.9%
0.733
42.9
0.25
Olivet
71.8
0.36
42.2%
0.301
21.6
0.26
Albion
67.5
0.34
48.3%
0.409
27.6
0.29
Hope
80.2
0.40
58.9%
0.545
43.7
0.37
Calvin
74.3
0.37
58.5%
0.553
41.1
0.35
Alma
65.1
0.33
86.2%
0.856
55.7
0.32
Kalamazoo
70.7
0.35
49.2%
0.566
40.0
0.41
Trine
74.2
0.37
80.9%
0.862
63.9
0.40

This chart is sorted according to percentage of minutes returning*. It shows each team’s total points per game (PPG) and points per minute (PPM) from a season ago. It also includes the percentage of minutes that the returning players took up, the percentage of the team’s points they scored, their total points per game, and their points per minute.

*Obviously we don’t know for certain who’s returning, but for the sake of this experiment, I removed players listed as seniors and those that did not appear on their team’s final online roster from the stat sheet. I also removed Chris Hutton from Albion’s line. It has been reported that he was involved in a summer accident and will miss the upcoming season.

So it’s true that Adrian and Trine both return a lot of players. They’re both in the top three in terms of percentage of minutes and points returning (Alma’s the other team, but I’m not particularly interested in them).

Trine still has a ways to go to become a true contender in the league, and while they’re capable of taking a big step forward this season, I don’t think anyone expects them to contend for a top spot. Not yet anyway. But this data does seem to confirm Adrian as a sexy pick to challenge Calvin and Hope, but a closer look reveals that this may not be the case.


"Catch Up" PPG"Catch Up" PPM"CU" Rate Rel. to 2011"CU" Rate Rel. to Return
Adrian
15.6
0.52
177%
205%
Olivet
50.2
0.43
121%
170%
Albion
39.9
0.39
114%
135%
Hope
36.5
0.44
111%
120%
Calvin
33.2
0.40
108%
114%
Alma
9.4
0.34
105%
106%
Kalamazoo
30.7
0.30
85%
74%
Trine
10.3
0.27
72%
68%

These “Catch Up” (“CU”) numbers represent what each team needs to do to match their 2011 offensive numbers. To maintain the status quo, as it were.

Of particular interest are the two farthest columns on the right that I have dubbed “Catch Up” Rates. This shows us how much scoring (relative either to the 2011 team total or the returning players’ total) must be done in the available minutes to maintain last year’s team point average.

Here’s what I mean. Adrian is losing 15.6 points per game (this becomes their “catch up” number). They’re returning 84.9% of their minutes (about 170), so they have about 30 minutes available per game (for new players or expanded roles for current players). In order to make up those 15.6 points in 30 minutes, they’ll need to score 0.52 points per minute. 0.52 PPM is 177% better than their team average last year (they scored 0.29 PPM as a team in 2011), and it’s 205% better than the combination of returning players (the guys that are coming back averaged 0.25 PPM). In other words, Adrian’s offense is going to need to take a step forward next year in order to simply maintain last season’s (low) output (if that makes sense).

How is this so? They’re losing Jovon Mosley who was really the only guy on the team that had the ability to score in bunches. He was their only double-digit PPG player. He accounted for over 20% of Adrian’s scoring – and this was a team that averaged fewer than 60 points per contest.

The good news for Bulldog fans is that players often make big strides between their Sophomore and Junior years, and AC had nine Sophomores on their roster last season.

Trine, on the other hand, is poised to have another fantastic year on the offensive end. They’re returning a ton of players and a ton of points, so they don’t need much value out of the extra time (just 68% of what’s already there) to match their 2011 total.

Olivet? It’s going to be a long year. They lost a ton of minutes, and they lost a ton of points. It’s going to be a tall order for them to repeat with a top four finish in the league.

Calvin actually looks to be in decent shape. They need to replace 83 minutes per game, but they don’t need the extra playing time to be filled with overly great scoring. They’ll need to count on some players to step up, sure, but their 114% “catch up” rate (relative to returning players) looks very reasonable compared to what’s out there. At least, the “catch up” rates aren’t as high as they were last year after losing John Mantel, Matt Veltema, and Paul Campbell (114% relative to 2010 average, and 128% relative to 2010 returning players).

The Knights have several players that should be able to step up on the offensive end. Jordan Brink will certainly be capable of carrying a larger load on offense, Tyler Kruis could very conceivably improve his in-the-post offense, and I’m going to expect (hope for) better numbers from Bryan Powell and Brian Haverdink. I think there’s a very good chance that next year’s offense will be as good as, or better than, this year’s was.


Of course, I’m only looking at one side of the ball here, and it remains to be seen who exactly is coming and going for each team, but this is what I’m expecting in the standings (for now):

1 – Calvin – 11-3
2 – Hope – 10-4
3 – Adrian – 8-6
3 – Albion – 8-6
5 – Trine – 7-7
6 – Kalamazoo – 6-8
7 – Olivet – 3-11
8 – Alma – 3-11

I’m seeing three tiers. Calvin and Hope at the top, Adrian, Albion, Trine, and Kalamazoo more or less in the middle, and Olivet and Alma brining up the rear.

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