28.1%: Denver Outlaws’ shooting percentage when unassisted.
Last year’s Outlaws won the championship while shooting a measly 23.5% when unassisted (8th in MLL). They found stepdown shooters via rapid ball movement and constant screening. Wes Berg showed flashes of dodging dominance with three unassisted goals in the MLL Championship; that has continued early in 2017.
Berg is shooting 5-for-10 off the dodge, and he has beat every type of defender along the way. He’s running by shorties for both topside sweeps and for underneath dunks. He’s running through poles (and, at times, through the humans wielding them).
30.4%: Florida Launch’s shooting percentage when dodging from X.
Initiating from X, the Launch ranks fourth in MLL behind Rochester (Jordan Wolf), Atlanta (Kevin Rice and his proxy James Pannell) and Chesapeake.
Chazz Woodson is shooting 8-for-24 (33.3%) off the dodge in his renaissance. Jimmy Dailey provided some punch in invert sets earlier this spring; rookie Ryan Drenner has assumed Dailey’s role since being drafted.
Drenner (selected 28th overall in May) will be one of the steals of the draft. Short-sticks have trouble staying on their feet when he shakes. Out of a timeout, Kyle Sweeney barely got a piece of Drenner when he sprinted off the end line to his spot.
27.9%: New York Lizards opponents’ shooting percentage off the catch.
The Lizards defense is sliding much better than last season. In the past the slides have been held unless absolutely necessary. Reactionary slides often leave gaps in the defense. When the defenders responsible for filling the crease don’t know if the hot defender is sliding until they see him slide, there’s a natural lag in decision-making.
Opponents shot 40.9% off the catch against the Lizards in 2016 (worst in MLL). This season’s mark ranks third, and it doesn’t even account for those timely doubles which prevent a shot altogether.
19.5%: Ohio Machine opponents’ shooting percentage when dodging from up top.
No stat – especially defensively – is reflective of solely one individual. The Faceless Men deserve a shoutout as a unit (and they’ll get one later). But this stat is has Dominique Alexander’s footprints all over it.
There’s no chess piece like Alexander on any defense’s board. He’s a 6-2, 215lb. short-stick who can shuffle his feet with the fastest players and body up the biggest players. The Machine comfortably switch him onto attackmen, and when most teams would frantically attempt to bail out their short-stick defender, they let him compete.
20: Caused turnovers by Ohio Machine defender Matt McMahon.
McMahon also leads MLL in run outs (4) and caused turnovers (20). We wrote about McMahon last week and how his play – both on-ball and off-ball – complements Jackson Place, Steven Waldeck and company perfectly. He’s a shoo-in for the All-Star Game.
45.5%: The percent of Kyle Bernlohr’s saves that are clean (i.e. do not produce a rebound).
On average, goalies cleanly save 31.2% of shots. Most of those are subsequently rebounded by the defense, but the value of a clean save runs much deeper than preventing rebound opportunities.
The Machine score on 41.9% of possessions beginning with a Bernlohr save. His ability to get the ball up and out to start breaks has been excellent. Outlets don’t need to be 60-yards to be effective; quick outlets are just as (if not more) valuable.
42.3%: Chesapeake Bayhawks’ shooting percentage off pick-and-rolls.
For a team with very little NLL influence, this number may be a bit surprising. Chesapeake rolled out some pairs sets against Atlanta at Homewood with Matt Abbott, John Maloney and Matt Bertrams initiating on their strong-side. Shawn Evans and Josh Byrne have brought some box tricks to the table, but my favorite pick-and-roll has yet to produce a point.
In Jake Froccaro’s MLL debut, he and Myles Jones took turns picking for each other to produce some quality shots. Defenses won’t want to help from either near the top of the arc. The fear of the two-point shot will give whoever carries the ball a long runway to get his hands free.
21.7: Points per 45 fast break possessions scored by the Charlotte Hounds.
At the US Lacrosse Convention this winter, Charlotte Hounds head coach Jim Stagnitta presented on “Playing Fast.” He showed clips of Will Haus’s first step after a save, Charlie Cipriano’s decision-making as an outlet passer and some pass-down, pick-downs for Joey Sankey.
Transitioning from defense to offense is still a key to the Hounds’ success, but there’s a new facet to their transition attack: Brendan Fowler. Of the Hounds’ 24 fast break goals, 11 have been following face-off wins – more than any team in MLL (Boston is second with 8, New York is third with 7).
Fowler (51.5%) isn’t facing off at a much higher rate than he has in the past (49.0% career prior to this season). The Hounds are making the most of their possessions following face-off wins, though. Even those that don’t produce points immediately have been fruitful; 33.0% of the Hounds’ possessions following face-off wins have led to points, second in MLL behind only Atlanta.