Numbers! We've got 'em! More specifically, scoring comparisons! We've got 'em!
This week, I'm looking at the average scores the top 15 teams have achieved so far this season versus their scores from the same point last season (January 28, 2014 rankings vs. January 27, 2013 rankings), broken down by team and event to see where these teams are improving compared to the beginning of last year and where they have fallen off. We often view scoring in terms of overall rank, but this is more of an opportunity to compare a team with itself and our expectations of for that team on each event.
Blue equals YAY! and red equals BOO! That probably didn't need to be explained.
The beam and floor results are basically identical to last year, but the vault increase is the one that really stands out. Oklahoma started out slower on vault last year, not having Kanewa at the beginning and throwing in some early 9.6s and 9.7s. That has surely not been the case this year.
We know the deal with floor. Beam has also seen an improvement, whereas last season Florida started out surprisingly wobbly with some early Sloan and King falls before finding their way. As I have mentioned before, Florida's vault hasn't been all that impressive so far. That's the event I'm most interested in this weekend.
It's a land of blue for LSU. While LSU did get into the 197s by February last season (scoring quite similarly to how they have started this season), the beginning of 2013 was marked by counting bars and beam falls and some low team scores, which accounts for the increase this year. They've started about a month faster this season.
Yep. I think anyone would have called this breakdown. Vault has been the most impressive event for Utah this year (currently #1 in the country), and that's reflected in the increase, but the Utes started miserably on bars last year, so the security we've seen so far there has been the biggest relative accomplishment.
As noted in the rankings post, Michigan has started 2014 much the same way as 2013, so there is little remarkable change in the scores. The beam decrease may be a bit troublesome, but the Wolverines are mostly on the exact same track.
Floor starting off faster this year than last is an important accomplishment because that was the big question mark event coming into the season. There's still much work to be done to be ultimately competitive with the best, but Georgia is another team making a faster start this season marked by fewer errors.
I expected to see a bit more red since Alabama is down in 7th in the rankings, but they've been fairly steady, making minor gains over last season that amount to a solid 2.5 tenth increase. They've been mostly constant; it's the other teams that are currently shooting past them. Don't expect that to last.
Nebraska has shown a smidge of total gain through improvements on last year's fairly slow start on vault and floor (things certainly didn't stay that way on vault). Lambert and Martin have been helpful additions to that vault lineup early this year, as has having Blanske in on both vault and floor from the beginning of the year.
Beam. That is all.
Arkansas has made the biggest gains of all the teams, zooming up across the board on every event. I had mostly forgotten how slowly the Razorbacks started last season, with five of the first six meets seeing sub-196 scores. The consistent 49.000 type rotation scores so far this year have been a step up.
Stanford's freshman class was all about the power boost with Daum and the McNairs, so I'm actually surprised we haven't seen a bigger jump in the vault and floor totals (floor started very slowly last year, so some improvement was almost guaranteed). But, Stanford is not a quick-starting team, so this will change.
Auburn's floor improvement is the biggest single-event jump for any of the teams, and the total jump is second only to Arkansas. This is another team that had a rough start to the season last year with a number of fall-heavy meets, so a more consistent start was always going to bring some big comparative numbers.
Two tenths may not seem like a significant total jump, but improved scoring on vault and floor has been enough to elevate this team into the top conversation for the moment. Arizona has been hanging around that back half of the top 20 for a long time now, being that Regionals #3 seed that doesn't really contend for the upset. Is this the sign of a change?
One of the few teams that has seen a notable decrease in the scores from last year, and once again beam is the culprit. Note that most of the numbers on this list are blue overall, but there are a lot of red beams. More than half the teams have regressed there. Even though bars has been a struggle again so far this year, it's not as bad as it was last year.
It hasn't been a particularly strong start for Oregon State this year, sitting at #15 when they have much higher expectations than that, so the jump in scoring compared to last year should be some small manner of encouragement. Without Stambaugh and Jones this year, the fact that floor has taken a knock comes as no surprise.