Carolina Chaos rookie Shane Knobloch

Shot quantity vs. quality: What do the Chaos need to prioritize?

By Hayden Lewis | Jun 13, 2024

There’s an age-old debate in lacrosse among players, coaches and fans between shot quantity vs. quality because players have the ability to back up shots and maintain possession on offense.

Two weeks into the season, the Carolina Chaos have become beneficiaries of their league-leading shooting percentage. The Chaos are scoring goals on 40.4% of their shots. The league average is right under 29%.

The high shooting percentage at a micro level has helped lead the Chaos to a 2-1 record, slating the squad as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and second-best team in the league entering this weekend's games in Philadelphia. However, their shooting percentage is a red herring and isn’t the only measurable data that displays offensive success and leads to winning lacrosse games.

Carolina averages fewer than 30 shots per game on offense. That’s the lowest mark in the league, and it’s resulted in long offensive stretches without goals. It also has inflated the team’s stats in other areas on offense, like the shooting percentage. 

The league average is 43 shots per game. The Utah Archers are sitting close to that, clocking 40 shots per game, and are an offense the Chaos can compare to. The Archers have scored on 33.8% of their shots (third-best in the PLL) while attempting the third-lowest average of shots per game.  

Finding a shelf between 35-45 shots per game is an attainable goal for the Chaos, and staying in the mid-30s isn’t a terrible option. The last four PLL champions have averaged 43 (2020 Whipsnakes), 34 (2021 Chaos), 44 (2022 Waterdogs) and 47.4 (2023 Archers) shots per game, respectively. 

Scoring at a high percentage has been more valuable than putting a high volume of shots on the cage in Carolina’s past because of the team’s trust in its defense. That was also back when the offense played a one-handed screen-heavy offense that utilized off-ball movement for scoring opportunities. 

The defense has remained mostly the same, but the offense underwent a retooling and can no longer rely on low shot totals and high-percentage shooting for wins. 

Carolina scores a plethora of powerplay and even-strength goals tight on the crease or with free shooting space because the team has a wealth of players who can dodge and feed on offense with deception and poise. The offense isn’t going to stop creating great looks, which means the Chaos are going to score goals. But the offense needs to be fine with not playing for the perfect possession each run. 

Shane Knobloch can become a large beneficiary of an offense not playing for a perfect possession. Knobloch spent most of his college career creating opportunities for himself off the dodge and averaged over eight shots a game during his senior year at Rutgers. Through three games in the PLL, Knobloch has taken a slim 11 shots. Only two have resulted in goals and four have hit the net. 

Freeing Knobloch’s game will open up facets of other player’s games.

Looking for the perfect possession isn’t the only issue, though. Carolina has had an issue with turnovers killing possessions and limiting shots, too. Averaging a pinch over 18 turnovers per game, the Chaos have gone stretches of six-plus minutes without goals or great opportunities in multiple games. 

Giving the ball away is a part of the game, but the pace at which Carolina is turning the ball over is troublesome considering the low offensive output. Running the shot clock down for a turnover or a pass that misses a target and skips to the endline isn’t a bad turnover because it forces opponents to clear and change before setting the offense in the short shot clock look. Turnovers north of goal line extended and off passes that have flooded the sidelines rather than the endline are the turnovers that need to be avoided. 

If Carolina can avoid the negative turnovers, it will result in more chances to let the rock fly. 

Another piece of the puzzle is Carolina’s lack of possession to start the season. Nick Rowlett had the hard task of squaring off against the league’s scariest two-headed faceoff monster of TD Ierlan and Trevor Baptiste last week. Rowlett can’t be blamed for the low offensive possession totals because every faceoff specialist has woes against Ierlan and Baptiste. 

Once Rowlett settles in and finds a groove at the stripe, he’ll start to provide more looks for the offense. 

Right now, the Chaos need to prioritize ball security on offense, which can lead to more shots and goals for the league’s best-shooting team. It will be hard for Carolina to continue to score goals at a 40% clip or higher, which is why they need to focus on amplifying shot totals in the coming weeks -- a task that'll become easier as the new offensive unit continues to grow together.