Last week, the AFL posted an article about how your team stacks up in terms of stats. The good stats (allegedly). So what does this article tell us? Or does it even tell us anything? Let’s see, shall we?
First you take a look at the Reigning Premiers.
Hawthorn led the league in goals per inside 50. Good for them. This indicates that of all the clubs, they were the ones who really maximized their scoring shots which is great. So looking at this stat you think, “Okay, so, this must be a key indicator of premiership quality and performance.” Buuuuuuuuuut not really. Because take a look at North Melbourne. Statistically great on all accounts. They were second in the league for goals per inside fifty – JUST ONE ONE HUNDRETH LESS THAN HAWTHORN! – and first in the league for disposal efficiency and clearance differential. This is interesting because North didn’t do all that well this year. Improving? Yes. Good? Yes. Dominant? Not so much.
Interestingly, Hawthorn was second (behind North) for disposal efficiency. With such similarities, why did Hawthorn win the flag and North just get their usual top 8 finish? Hmmm. Something to ponder…
While we think about that, we’ll look at Freo – our runners-up.
They did AMAZINGLY for uncontested marks. Yes, they led the league, but check out that percentage! I know that’s a reflection of how they play their game, but judging by the outcome of last season… that’s not a bad way to play the game – it’s what I’ve been saying since I watched my first AFL game (maybe this will inspire a few coaches to change up their style a bit?). Looking at that key stat again – goals per inside 50 – Freo was third. Am I seeing a pattern here?
Next we look at the Swans – last year’s premiers (and the reason this blog came about, let’s not forget). Leading the league in tackles per game, the Swans clearly have great defense. But we already knew that. But interestingly, they have one of the highest number of points against per game. Weird, right? But then here comes that clearance stuff again: the Swans have one of the highest differential of points from clearances… but this didn’t seem to help them at all. Just like it didn’t help North to have heaps of clearances. Ahhhh – more patterns are emerging.
And finally, our wooden spooners. The good ol’ Giants. I can’t wait for them to become a force to be reckoned with (I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this year, but that’s probably a pipe dream). The stats here aren’t too impressive, other than set shot accuracy. But that’s because Cameron is fantastic. But you already knew that I knew that.
So what does this article tell us. Well, frankly, it gives us some mixed messages and doesn’t tell us very much. But here are some general take aways and what I see from this very summarized article.
- Clearances aren’t that big of a deal. Yes, they matter because everyone wants the ball and you should get the ball. But when it comes down to it, tackles, uncontested possessions and accuracy are more important. Especially because if you’re tackling and contesting possessions… it should be easy to get the ball back anyway.
- MOVE. What do the top teams have in common? High percentages of uncontested possessions and handball efficiency. More important than getting it right… is getting it done. (“Better lucky than good” – Keanu Reeves in The Replacements). The lower teams seem to be more accurate but the better teams just seem to do MORE.
- Tackle, tackle, and tackle some more. Sure, good teams play good offense. But they don’t forget that the other teams are trying to get the ball through the goal either. Don’t let them score and that means: TAKE THEM DOWN. Even if that means you score a bit less, it means the opposition score MUCH less.
- Contested or uncontested doesn’t matter. Just get the freakin’ ball. You aren’t a better team just because you get more contested possessions that uncontested ones, or vice versa. You’re a better team if you get the ball – regardless of who you have to take out (or not) to get it. A high percentage of contested possessions (i.e. Richmond) doesn’t seem to make a difference but a high number of uncontested (i.e. Freo) does.
- Some AFL writers don’t understand consistency. Why do you indicate ‘Equal’ in some equal stats, and not in others?
Sorry, that last one was just for me. It’s an OCD thing – just leave me be.