Monday, December 27, 2010

Scheduling Imbalance Needs to be Fixed

Last year it was the Heal Points System. This year it's the ridiculous NH Index Plan. The NHIAA keeps trying to fix this system but it's just not working. Something has to be done though. And I know just what that something is.

Coaches all over the state are having fits with this current system that awards 5 points for a road win as opposed to 4 points for a home win. The current system takes into account home court advantage but doesn't not take into account strength of schedule like it should.

Why This is a Problem
The bottom line is we have a scheduling imbalance for every basketball division except for boys Division I. In divisions II, III and IV you have 23+ teams. Teams in these divisions play some teams twice, some teams once and some teams they don't play at all - it's totally random...and it's a complete mess. But if we're talking boys Division II and Team A plays Laconia, Plymouth and Kennett twice each but they don't have to play Milford, Portsmouth or Oyster River at all while Team B doesn't play Laconia, Plymouth or Kennett but they have to play Milford, Oyster River and Portsmouth twice each it makes a BIG difference. Our current system counts all wins the same, regardless of how good the opponent is. The only thing our current system takes into account is home wins vs. road wins. And this is a complete joke. Because (staying in boys D-II) why should a road win vs. Con-Val count for 5 points while a home win vs. Pembroke count for 4? It makes ZERO sense!

Then in Division I on the girls side you have only 18 teams (Goffstown and West moved down this year and no one moved up). So everybody plays everybody once. But that's only 17 games. So for the other game everybody has 1 team that they play twice. So this is also an imbalance. Because let's say you have 2 teams who are tied for the #4 seed. But one of them had to play Winnacunnet twice while the other team got to play Concord twice. It makes a difference.

In each of these cases the result is some teams having more difficult schedules than others. This scheduling imbalance MUST be accounted for in the standings.


Solution
I actually liked the Heal Points System from a year ago. It wasn't perfect, but it was MUCH better than the current system. There were some aspects of it that certainly raised some eyebrows. Like for example (and again, staying in boys D-II) Kearsarge seemed to be a little high in the #6 seed. But overall, the way the standings did end up showing how good the teams really were (for the most part).

With just a little tweaking to Heal Points formula it could have been just right. Maybe include point differential as well. If you go on the road and beat the #2 team in your division by 28 points that SHOULD count more than if you beat them on a buzzer-beater. Including point differential in the formula IS a good idea, as long as the highest the system will allow you to beat somebody by is 30. What I mean by that is a 30 point win SHOULD count for more points in the standings than a 10 point win. However, a 50 point win should NOT count for more in the standings than a 30 point win. Why's that? Because then teams would leave their starters in longer in blowouts and purposely run up scores to gain a higher seed. With the way I have described, you would account for point differential while at the same time preventing teams from running up scores. Once the lead is over 30, call off the dogs!

And also, if you're going to do the Heal Points system, you MUST update the standings more often! Last season the NHIAA updated the standings in Class I about once a month. This isn't going to cut it, and I'm willing to bet timeliness was a big reason why they did away with it. But I don't see a reason why the NHIAA could just put in a little more time and effort to make sure the standings were updated more often. I mean honestly, you plug in the final scores from the games at the end of each night or the following morning, you let the computer spit out the updated standings for you and you update it on the NHIAA website. Sounds simple enough to me.

Lastly, the Heal Points System should be used not just in D-II (Class I), but ALL divisions, with the exception of boys D-I (since they have just the right amount of teams where everyone plays everyone once). It should be used in D-III and D-IV. These divisions are in the same boat as D-II, with 23+ teams, separation of northern teams vs. southern, etc. So why would we do this for D-II but not D-III or D-IV? Let's be fair, NHIAA. We should also do this system for girls D-I. Because like I said earlier, in that division everyone has 1 team they play twice while playing all other teams just once. We MUST account for this discrepancy in the standings. Boys D-I is fine, but ALL other divisions for basketball MUST use a system that accounts for strength of schedule. And right now that is simply not happening.

Oh yeah, and Dover if you want to play St. Thomas, and Keene if you want to play Con-Val just do it in the preseason please (at least on the boys side). Because in D-I boys everyone plays everyone once, it messes everything up if a D-I team wants to play down a division. No reason why Dover should get credit for a win over St. Thomas instead of playing another D-I team - same thing with Keene.

If these changes are made, the Heal Points System that we used last year CAN and WILL work. It would be fair and objective. It would allow teams to play more games against the teams in their division who are closer geographically while at the same time making it so the standings actually reflect who the better teams are.

The status quo just isn't cutting it. C'mon, NHIAA - let's get this thing done!

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