Statistics can be a very good measure for players and coaches to use and detail a significant amount about a game. If a player has very good stats, you can bet they have had a good game.
But like any measure, stats don’t explain everything, nor are they a complete indicator – in some cases players with low volumes of stats could still have played the game of their lives.
The reason for this is that stats can’t measure everything. In netball, the examples of this are endless.
A defender may not have a lot of intercepts or deflections, but if they have held up a pass or put off feeders from passing to their opponent, then they have, by defensive measure, had positive influence on the game. If their constant pressure has caused a shooter to turn over the ball by missing a shot or fumbling a ball, that’s a win, but not one that will show up on stats sheet for the defender.
Likewise, in a tight-marking situation, held balls are usually caused by players not being able to find someone to pass to in under three seconds – a mark of great defence across the court – but a statistic that will only show up as a turnover for the player who had the ball.
What stats do tell us are that some of the concrete events of a game and expectations are positional.
Over these three articles, a list of key statistics have been compiled for each player over the first six rounds of the 2018 Super Netball season, having been analysed by position.
It isn’t straightforward, with several players moving between different positions, but this is highlighted where relevant. Players have only been considered in this if they have played more than ten quarters in any one position, so players like Renae Ingles, Matilda Garrett, Abigail Latu-Meafou and Kristina Brice have been left out. Fiona Fowler is included under both goal defence and wing defence given that she has had significant game time in both positions.
QP – quarters played; G – goals; GA – goal assists; F – feeds; GN – gains; I – intercepts; IPT – intercept pass thrown; DG – deflections with gain; DN – deflections with no gain; R rebounds; PU – pickups; P – penalties; GPT – general play turnovers.
As the name suggests, the most important statistic for a goal shooter is scoring and for this, the standard is already increasing from the first season of SSN last year. All shooters in the competition have topped 85% so far this season. Jhaniele Fowler has already broken the record for the most goals scored in one game and tops the leaderboard for volume. Fowler averages a remarkable 13 goals a quarter.
Shooters take on varying loads depending on their approach to the game and connection with their goal attack. Romelda Aiken and Caitlin Thwaites tend to take the bulk of shots for their teams respectively, while Mwai Kumwenda has one of the higher scoring goal attacks in Tegan Philip who is content to shoot from anywhere in the circle.
Jo Harten, who averages seven goals per quarter, does a lot more work in bringing the ball down the court than other shooters and has also spent some time playing at goal attack with Kristina Brice at goal shooter.
Aiken is leading the league for rebounds with 23, a stat which more than makes up for her having the lowest overall goal percentage, but still a healthy 85.9%. Shimona Nelson (Adelaide Thunderbirds) comes closest to Aiken’s rebounds with 17, placing her second overall in the league. Harten has just six rebounds for the season, the lowest of any goal shooter.
Goal shooters are less likely to have higher stats for goal assists or feeds. At face value, Harten’s number of feeds and assists is very high, but this can be mostly explained by the time she has spent at goal attack throughout the season. Of the remaining shooters, Aiken has the highest volume of goal assists (31) and feeds (40), showing the incredible connection she has with teammate Gretel Tippett.
Turnovers can be high for shooters if they miss several shots in a game and are unable to keep possession. Shooters are also often known for not being the best or most accurate passers in netball. Aiken has the highest turnovers of any of the shooters, sitting second equal overall in turnovers for the league with 31 closely followed by Nelson with 30. Aiken is also the most highly penalised shooter.
Harten features as the shooter with the most intercept passes thrown so far, another sign of the work she has done at goal attack this season, as well as her tendency to come out of the circle when playing in goal shooter.
Harten is also the shooter with the most gains in the competition with three intercepts and two deflections with a gain. Known as a player who can win ball back when it is turned over, Harten has an uncanny ability to move from attack into defence, a trait which seems to be a mark of English attackers.
QP – quarters played; G – goals; GA – goal assists; F – feeds; GN – gains; I – intercepts; IPT – intercept pass thrown; DG – deflections with gain; DN – deflections with no gain; R – rebounds; CPR – centre pass receives; PU – pickups; P – penalties; GPT – general play turnovers.
Goal attacks rarely have the same accuracy as shooters overall. They do more work off the ball, traversing a greater area and are more likely to shoot from further out. Tegan Philip and Helen Housby have netted the most goals of these players. Nat Medhurst has shot just 15% of the Fever’s goals, a stat which is far below that of other goal attacks, but her stats are exceptional in other areas.
Unsurprisingly, the accuracy for goal attacks isn’t quite as high as for the shooters, but all bar two have shot at over 80%, with Tippett topping that stat with 88.5%. Erin Bell’s stats are more of a concern recording just 74% over the first six rounds. Given her exceptional Round 6 game against the Firebirds, one would expect these stats to improve coming into the latter part of the season.
Medhurst, despite her low number of goals, is the leader in goal assists and feeds among goal attacks and is behind only Liz Watson and Kim Green for the competition.
Medhurst has taken responsibility for almost half of the Fever’s total goal assists this year. It is often said when dealing with very tall shooters such as Fowler that the ball needs to be stopped before it gets to her. The key to stopping Fowler, in the second part of the season, may well be finding a match for Medhurst.
Steph Wood has the highest volume of centre pass receives and shares the load relatively equally with Kelsey Browne, both who are in the top ten in the league for this stat, but following closely is Tippett, Housby and Philip. Susan Pettitt has the lowest volume of centre pass receives of any of the regular goal attacks, but this again is likely more a mark of an exceptional wing attack than anything else.
Like her English counterpart in Harten, Housby has exceeded all expectations in her defensive play this year. She has eight gains to her name including five intercepts and three deflections with a gain. Her ability to move from attack into defence without batting an eyelid bodes very well for the young Swifts team. Gretel Tippett has recorded seven gains so far.
The biggest concern for Tippett is a very high penalty count – she has 14 more penalties than the next most penalized goal attack and these have at times led to turnovers. The standard for a goal attack this season for turnovers seems to be around one per quarter with Wood and Philip recording the highest turnover count and Pettitt the lowest.
There is not shortage of good goal attacks in the league. One of the more exciting developments has been the growth of defensive goal attacks like Housby and the phenomenal work done in setting up options to score by Medhurst. The Australian Diamonds selectors are going to have a difficult time of it once again this year.
Tomorow on Netball Scoop: Midcourters