M1 Nations Cup 2019
A review of the 2019 M1 Nations Cup in Singapore
A review of the 2019 M1 Nations Cup in Singapore
Offensive Efficiency is a measure of how well a team was able to score from their own possession, while Defensive Efficiency looks at how well they were able to stop the opposition from scoring.
This is the easiest way to see how well the units have done their jobs.
• Ireland and PNG were definitely a tier below the other teams in terms of offensive capability.
• Surprisingly given their 5th placing, Ireland had the best defensive numbers – this was potentially a combination of (a) a strong defensive end [not matched by the attacking end] and (b) playing PNG twice, another weaker attacking team.
• Namibia and Singapore were the strongest attacking teams, but of the two Namibia had the stronger defence.
• Singapore were very strong on their CP, but dropped significantly when trying to convert turnover ball.
• Ireland and PNG were a little behind the other teams in getting ball into their circle on both CP and Gain, but lower shooting percentages meant they dropped significantly in the ‘to Score’ categories.
• Namibia and Cook Islands were the best at converting Gained ball – combined with a strong defensive end this was a big contributor to Namibia’s first place.
• Namibia were by far the most accurate team in the tournament for shooting, and were the only team to average over 90%. Singapore and Botswana were the other two teams to average over 80, while the others were in the 70s or 60s. PNG was the least accurate team, on 66%. Note that for top tier nations we would expect to see shooting accuracy well over 85%, often over 90.
• PNG defenders also had the least effect on the opposition shot, with teams averaging 83% against them.
• Defensively the other teams were reasonably similar in their effect on the opposition shot.
See further down in this report for an in depth investigation of shooting patterns for each team
• On attack, Namibia’s shooters were the best rebounders, followed by Botswana. Ireland, PNG and Singapore were all quite poor on Offensive rebounding – averaging in the 30s, meaning they lost possession on significantly more than half of their missed shots
• On defence, Namibia were also the strongest team for rebounding, significantly ahead of the other teams. PNG had the lowest results for defensive rebounding.
• Namibia clearly had the most effective circles, with the best shooting and rebounding at both ends among all the teams. They were obviously helped by their height compared to the other teams, but their good performance in these measures was a big contributor to their tournament win.
• Surprisingly (given their 5th place finish), Ireland returned the best defensive numbers. As we’ve already mentioned, this was possibly partially due to playing PNG twice but also evidence of having a very strong defence end. They just coudn’t convert this gained ball very well. Also see next section – they had significantly more losses than any other team.
• Ireland and Cook Islands picked up the most ball through intercept/tips, while Ireland also picked up a significant amount of ball through Opposition Error.
• Singapore had the lowest gain rate among the 6 teams – if they were able to get their defence end to match their attack end they would be very dangerous!
• Ireland had the highest loss rate for the tournament, significantly higher than the other teams. Passing in particular was an issue for them, averaging 6 passing errors per quarter (so 24 per game). Note that the top tier teams aim for around 20 losses in total across all categories per game.
• As mentioned, Singapore were very effective on attack, and this is reflected in them having the lowest loss rate among the 6 teams.
• Cook Islands were also very tidy, and had the lowest number of passing errors on average.
• Namibia had quite a high number of offensive penalties compared to some of the other teams. There could be multiple explanations for this – they were one of the only teams to have a truly tall shooter and so played the holding game a bit more than the other teams, a style of play which often results in offensive penalties. In addition, there was one particular umpire (Joan Yuliani) who called more offensive penalties than others, so potentially Namibia may have had this umpire more often. Interestingly, Joan Yuliani went on the following week to umpire the final Constellation Cup match between Australia and New Zealand. There was a high level of controversy following that match over some of her interpretations – perhaps if those teams had watched some of these games they could have prepared for her style of umpiring a little better.
• Bubble sizes are the number of successful feeds per quarter, which in this case mainly shows that PNG weren’t able to get the ball into their shooters very often. They also had the lowest accuracy but the highest efficiency, meaning their placement into the circle wasn’t great but their shooters were the most willing to shoot when they did get the ball in the circle.
• Singapore were the most accurate team, and also high in efficiency, meaning their ball placement was good and their shooters were willing to go to the post.
• Ireland had the second lowest accuracy and were also the least efficient, so it was taking them multiple feeds to get the ball to a point where the shooters were willing to shoot. Because their accuracy was low it’s likely they were losing a lot of ball around the circle.
• Namibia, Cook Islands and Botswana were all quite similar in terms of their feeding results
Bringing together teams from the differing regions in a tournament like this provides a great opportunity to compare the different playing styles. We were struck by the differences in the way each team approached the game, particularly in the attacking third. It was also a great opportunity to watch teams of such different sizes, as the top teams in world netball all seem to be dominated by tall shooters and defence. Given the contrasting sizes and styles of play, we decided to do a little investigation into how the ball was moved around the attacking third and into the circle – but instead of the usual spatial investigation looking at where players are on the court in relation to each other and the path of the ball, we decided to look at the vertical element of their play. We classified each pass received in the attacking third as low (a bounce or underarm pass below hip height), mid (hip to arm extension height) or high (over arm extension height).
What did we find? Well as expected, all teams used a mid-height pass most often, but the distribution of low and high passes differed from team to team depending on their style of play. In particular, the two African teams stood out from the rest, but were also very different to each other!
When we break down shooting data into where shots are taken from, there are two main aspects we consider – volume (how many shots taken from each area of the circle), and accuracy (how many of the shots were successful in each part of the circle). We recorded the position and success of every shot for each team and produced the following shot charts. The volume heat maps show the areas of the circle used most by each team for their shots, while the accuracy charts show the areas they were most accurate from. We have gridded the circle up into 5 angles and 5 lengths, giving 25 different sections of the circle. The results show significant differences across the teams.
Looking at the results across all 6 teams combined, volume patterns are as expected with most shots taken from short range and very few shots taken from the edges of the circle in Long 2 range. The baselines and middle of the circle were the most populated areas, with the two ‘wedges’ sitting slightly lower for volume. In terms of accuracy, again the results were as expected with the longer the shot range the less accurate it was likely to be. The baseline shots were generally more accurate, and interestingly the ‘wedge’ shots were the least accurate, particularly on the right side of the circle.
Breaking down the data by team provides several interesting insights.
Overall this tournament was a fascinating watch for us, both as analysts and fans of the game.
Namibia were deserving winners, but the competitiveness among the other teams with contrasting styles, strengths and weaknesses made for some great games.
One major thought we had while watching is that these results raise some interesting questions around the world rankings, particularly among teams outside the top 6-8. After spending so long working with the teams at the very top, working with some of the lower ranked teams over the past 12 months has certainly raised our awareness of how important these rankings actually are to these teams.
While being ‘Number 1 in the world’ is a nice bragging right, being ranked 1st or 2nd (or even 3rd or 4th as NZ found out this year!) doesn’t really change much in terms of material effect. The top teams are still guaranteed a place in the two international pinnacle events (World Cup and Commonwealth Games), and at the end of the day the only thing that really matters to the teams, the fans, the sponsors and the organisations are the trophies and colours of the medals in the trophy cabinet. Liz Ellis alluded to this in her recent column during the 2019 Constellation Cup.
For the lower ranked teams, however, it is the rankings that determine entry to the Commonwealth Games and also contribute to the draw at World Cup where the top 8 are seeded and the next 8 are drawn randomly. For these teams, entry to – and performance at – pinnacle events can often be directly linked to funding and sponsorship opportunities, but ironically lower teams attending a pinnacle event often take a ranking hit as they are up against better teams, resulting in a number of losses.
For the sport as a whole to be truly global with a level of competitiveness that goes beyond the top 6 and across all regions, it would be great to see more tournaments like this that bring together teams from all over the world and give them exposure to truly international competition, while also offering a realistic opportunity to improve their ranking.
Analysis: In order to preserve the integrity of team strategies, we have intentionally kept our analysis as high-level as possible. To do this, we have reduced the use of raw counts in team contexts, we have kept our narratives to the evidence presented and we have offered limited insight and/or strategy advice.
Data: All data is reported on a per-quarter basis (unless otherwise stated), making all measures directly comparable.
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