On the bid allocations/Centex format:
One unfortunate consequence of the bid allocation and the format was the last round game for 17th between UNC and Texas. UNC had to put most of their team on airplanes and had only 8 women left for the game. Texas wanted to play (probably partly to avenge Saturday's 11-12 loss) and refused the double forfeit. How much of this decisions was influenced by the bid process? How much was influenced by just wanting to play? I can't help but think that it is influenced by the anxiety about bids. Every team from every region felt it. Everyone was watching how their worst-best-team was finishing. We were watching UBC struggle. The Central teams were watching ISU and Syzygy. The California teams were watching UCLA. UNC was worried about their own finish and Texas, as the best finisher in the South Central could do no better than 17! (Thanks to Lindsey for taking the time to explain some of UNC's thoughts on the system. My own frustrations were with the format and less with the bid allocations process, so I was probably projecting a bit.)
on Going forward/Next year
It is unclear how teams and tournaments will react to the system. It is pretty clear that there will be some changes because the current way the system is set up doesn't work. The early spring tournaments were set up to get people a lot of competition against a lot of teams. Wins and losses had no real consequence beyond team psyche. Experience and practice were the goals. Obviously, that is not the case. Here are some real changes that are likely:
- Western goes to Midwest Throwdown. Western went to Stanford Invite this year and lost every game. 3-15 is a rough record. Had they gone to Midwest Throwdown, they would likely have come out at least .500, maybe better. As the 4th team in our Region (this year at least) they need to do something to bolster their chances of a 4th bid.
- Teams 'mess up' rosters. Both UCLA (no Korb, no Kodiak) and us (no lots of people) would have been wise to not turn in rosters for Centex. Is this legal? I think so. Is it ethical? Good question. I don't know if Ottawa intentionally failed to submit a roster to Prez Day, but it would have been smart of them. They're flying across the country. They are leaving behind their star, Anne Mercier. They are playing westies who've been outside for months and there is still two feet of snow on the ground at home. This seems both smart and ethical. Is it ok for a team to decide two weeks before a tourney that they don't like there chances and then not turn in a roster? That seems a bit more dubious.
- Tournaments restructure. I think Lindsey's concerns about experience and pressure a good ones. As teams begin to reevaluate their decisions about what tournaments to attend and how to approach them, there will be pressure on tournaments to change the way they are doing business. There was a similar change 10-15 years ago when the early spring tournaments really blew up. Prior to 2000, teams didn't travel all that much before spring break. At Carleton in the early 90s, we didn't even throw outside until Saturday morning at Easterns. Fly to Vegas? Fly to San Diego? Fly to Palo Alto? In February?
- All this adds up to the fact that the landscape is changing. How will it end up? Who knows. Will it get to a good place? Who knows.
There is more parity this year than last year, partly because of natural fluctuations in the development of teams, but also because there is more talent across the board. Last year saw four teams (UW, UCSB, UofO and Wisco) at the peak of long periods of improvement. All four of those teams are worse now than they were at this time last year. That doesn't mean they won't surpass their previous incarnations; it's just a measure of where they are at this moment. At the same time, there are a number of teams (Cal, Stanford, Carleton, Wilmington, UNC, Michigan, UBC, UCLA...) who returned to the season largely intact and on the rise. The result is a whole lot of teams converging at the top.
Coaching plays a huge role in parity because it keeps teams from collapsing. Michigan is a great example. (Although if I'm wrong on this, Flywheel, let me know.) Their great 2009 E-Bae led team just missed quarters and then a ton of their players graduated. Historically, player-led teams collapsed at this point, sometimes folding up completely. This didn't happen and I would credit it to the continuity that coaching provides. While Flywheel is the example I used, it is by no means the only one.
As to our own (U of O's) losses and injury struggles: a loss is a loss is a loss. Teams beat us. I don't think you ever want to ignore a loss ('97 Sockeye, anyone? '05 Sockeye, anyone?) and you don't want to make excuses. If a loss is out of your control, how will you change it?