Well, the Brent Brekke era is about to begin, and hopefully that means we'll be able to have some less painful discussions here in the coming years. So, with hope but without expectations for an immediate miracle, here's a thread for 2019-20.
As the season approaches, I want to let you know about a project I started last spring, before Mark Morris was fired. I wanted to try to make some sense of the carnage of the Morris era. So I created a pile of graphs for each of the last three seasons, as well as some graphs covering SLU hockey history and the Carvel-Morris years. And I plan to continue doing the graph thing this season. The graphs are in spreadsheet files at Google Docs -- use the tabs at the bottom of each spreadsheet to move between graphs:
SLU Stats History
SLU Stats 2016-2017
SLU Stats 2017-2018
SLU Stats 2018-2019
SLU Stats 2019-2020
Obviously the file for this season doesn't have any data in it yet, but I'll add to it as the games get played.
Here are a few things I thought were interesting as I was compiling those stats last spring:
1. People often point out that it takes freshmen a while to adjust to the college game during the fall semester before they really start to become full contributors. Last year's team provided a good opportunity to look at how that shows up in freshman scoring, because there were six freshman forwards. And boy, did it ever show up. In the first quarter of the season, SLU's freshmen scored one goal. Not one goal apiece. Just one goal. But in the second quarter of the season, they scored 8. That increase accounted for all of the entire team's improvement in scoring in the second quarter -- the upperclassmen scored at exactly the same rate during both of those quarters.
2. A common opinion was that the team's crash started at the beginning of Morris' second year, when stars such as Gavin Bayreuther, Kyle Hayton, and Eric Sweetman had just departed and the team was a good bit less experienced. And if you look at those two seasons' overall records -- 17-13-7 and then 8-27-2 -- that opinion seems obvious. But in fact, if you break each season into quarters, you can see that the disaster actually started when the calendar flipped to February in Morris' FIRST year, when those stars and other experienced players were still in Canton. From that point, they finished with a dismal 2-6-1 run -- almost as bad as the horrific season that followed.
3. And finally ... Two excuses that Morris often used were inexperience and injuries. And as I said above, there was less experience in his second year -- and there was even less in his third. And as for injuries, the team really was hampered by them during his second year. I wanted to get a sense of how big those factors really were. So I did some analysis to adjust for experience and injuries, to put those teams on as equal a footing as possible with the teams in previous years. You can see the graphs of that analysis in the SLU Stats History spreadsheet -- and those graphs make it clear that the team's results were still awful even after giving them a break for injuries and an insanely huge break for inexperience. The numbers I came up with convinced me that those really were excuses on Morris' part, not legitimate reasons for the implosion.
That's the end of my post mortem. Now it's time to start rising from the ashes.