Diving deeper into their statistical profile, St. John’s had some ups and downs on the defensive end. Their best four-game stretch occurred from March 18 to April 8, where, despite losing all four games, they achieved an adjusted defensive efficiency in the 97th percentile. On the flip side, their lowest point was between February 25 and March 11, with an efficiency in the 13th percentile. The stark contrast between these periods was largely attributable to the opponent’s on-goal shooting percentage, which was 38% during their best defensive games and 52% during their worst. It’s probably a positive sign that their best stretch was later in the season, suggesting that either their defense got better at preventing high quality shots or their keepers got better at stopping them.
When focusing on matchups against conference peers and LaxElo teams of similar rank, the importance of shooting defense shows up again. They didn’t win any of these games, but we can use the defensive efficiency numbers to gauge the strength of the defense. In games where they allowed a shooting percentage of more than 37.5%, their defensive efficiency was 38%. When they were able to hold opponents below this mark, their efficiency was 31%. Again, it’s hard to say whether this is a defensive issue or a goalie issue, but it wasn’t a turnover-reliant defense. It was about preventing high quality chances.
The duration of the opposing team’s possession also played a role in St. John’s defensive success. Their performance was average when facing quick possessions under 20 seconds or lengthy ones over 60 seconds. However, they struggled during possessions lasting between 40 and 60 seconds, allowing goals at a rate that is 7.3 percentage points above the national average. This specific struggle during mid-length possessions added a layer of complexity to an already challenging defensive campaign for St. John’s.
Overall, the St. John’s defense had moments where they were able to limit the opportunities of their opponents effectively, but consistency eluded them throughout the season as they dealt with fluctuations in performance against various teams and situations. The detailed statistics not only shed light on their defensive capabilities but also their vulnerabilities, painting a comprehensive picture of a squad that faced its fair share of defensive challenges over the course of the year.
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P.S. What did I miss? Data-centric analyses like this can miss things that don’t show up in the stats (i.e. injuries/coaching changes). If you can help explain any of the above, put it in the comments.