User Interview: Infinitebob

Q&A with noted WhatIfSports user Infinitebob

We've given him a forum, and he's kept it interesting. We've allowed him to ask questions and he's kept us on our toes. Now, we're doing the asking. Whether you love him or not, he is clever and generally keeps things entertaining for the Hoops Dynasty and WhatIfSports community. He really needs no introduction (but, for some reason we have written this anyway). WhatIfSports.com recently contacted Infinitebob to discuss, well, pretty much everything.

WIS

Thanks for taking the time out to meet with us.

Infinitebob

It's an honor and a privilege!

WIS

Who is Infinitebob?

Infinitebob

I've been a professional in the IT industry for almost 20 years. Whenever I need to create a temporary computer file I always name it 'bob'. (It's more original than "temp".) When I was confronted with the need to create my very first Internet userid I instinctively choose "bob", only to realize that someone else beat me to it. The web site recommended alternative variations of "bob", which naturally included "bob" with a sequential numeric suffix. I realized I probably won't remember some random or meaningless number, and if I choose to provide my own numeric suffix there is a chance that the userid will be less portable. So I decided to combine the largest number, infinity, with bob. "Bobinfinity" doesn't have a good sound to it but when I switched it to "Infinitebob" it sounded a little better and I would be able to remember it. Geeky story, but it's the truth.

WIS

How did you learn about whatifsports.com and Hoops Dynasty?

Infinitebob

It was March of 2004 in the middle of Xavier's Elite-Eight Run. I couldn't get enough coverage of College Basketball. Both UC and UK lost in the 2nd round of the tournament and locally Xavier was the only game in town to talk about. One day, on my ride home from work, I tuned into the Lance McAlister Show on 1360AM HOMER, SHOTGUN. At one point he started talking about a new game offered by WIS called Hoops Dynasty. The way he described it peaked my interest, and as I was caught up in the frenzy of Xavier's tournament run I was looking for an outlet for my enthusiasm. A few days later I logged on to WhatIfSports.com

WIS

What was your initial reaction to our site and our games?

Infinitebob

From a professional point of view, this is a well-designed and structured web site, and easy to navigate. The first thing I did was check out the Hoops Dynasty promotion page. It explained the game well and sold me on the concept. I was ready to purchase my first team. The only problem was all three worlds were sold out, and I was resigned to the waiting list. Daily I would amuse myself by reading the forums and experimenting with the SIM Match-ups. One Saturday morning I log on and discover that World 4 [SMITH] was created. Nearly half the teams were already purchased. I selected Suffolk University because it is located in Boston, had only one scholarship (minimize the risk if I failed to recruit well my first time), and ran a Triangle/Zone. Later that next week I was on the phone with the Suffolk University Bookstore to purchase a T-Shirt and Hooded Sweatshirt.

WIS

Have you tried any of our other games besides Hoops Dynasty?

Infinitebob

Yes, I participated in a Hoops Dynasty coach's baseball league where robot was the commissioner. The concept was to take one of your HD team's roster and select baseball players with either a first name or last name that matches a first name or last name of a player on your HD roster. I had no clue what was a priority as I drafted my first team. When I was done I posted the roster in the Baseball forums and asked for feedback. After they stopped laughing I got some constructive information. (Who knew that innings pitched is something you should calculate?) WIS customer service helped me re-set my roster to re-draft my team. I had to do it 4 or 5 more times before I had a roster I eventually settled with. I've also participated in the testing of Gridiron Dynasty, and I'm currently signed up for Clutch Racing Dynasty in World Petty with "Brute Force Cybernetics" racing team.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

Infinitebob

Being married with three small kids doesn't allow for much free time. Children change your life. They have their own schedules, (swimming lessons, T-Ball, Dancing, school, etc.), and often their schedules take priority over mine. Since there is so little free time, it's really important is to find things that my wife, mrsibob, and I can enjoy together. Mrs.iBob is a season ticket holder to Xavier Men's basketball, and we even like to go to the occasional Women's basketball game with the children. We hope to meet up with kobylesky next season at one of the games. Both mrsibob and myself enjoy reading books, and will sometimes read the same book at the same time. We go to library book sales and buy them on the cheap by the box full. We also are big fans of prime time game shows like "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race", and will record the episodes to be viewed together after the children are in bed and asleep for the night.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of our website?

Infinitebob

The customer service is without equal. I'm in the business of designing and implementing computer solutions and the goals are always BETTER, FASTER, and CHEAPER. Focus on customer service is usually, "Yeah, we want that too, if it doesn't cost us too much with resources or distract us from our overall productivity." Every time I have a need to contact WIS I am surprised by the prompt and thorough attention I receive. Then there are the games, which I've said before that they are, "The best on the market." Without question, WIS produces the best cerebral sports games on the Internet. While waiting for Hoops Dynasty to start I checked out other websites and downloaded games to predict what I may experience with Hoops Dynasty. Once I started playing HD, I realized that the others were poor substitutes for what is delivered by WIS. Tip: For those of you waiting to get your first Hoops Dynasty team; don't waste your time downloading Tournament Dreams, instead purchase an NBA SIM League team from WIS to get a feel for rosters, depth charts, playing time, game strategy, and the SIM Engine. The Developer Chat was a great improvement. The forums can be a good source for information. The problem is that a lot of it is a guess instead of a fact. The Developer Chat allows direct questions to be answered by WIS developers, and all can review a record of the transcript. It is a great feature that supplements the FAQ page.

WIS

What is your least favorite aspect of our website?

Infinitebob

Untapped market and unrealized potential. WIS has a clear demographic definition for its customer base, and hasn't even begun to capture the market.. That's why I've been sending emails to editors of numerous print and Internet publications, suggesting WhatIfSports.com as worthy of a feature article (WIS Note: We thank Infinitebob for all of his help in this respect). After that, I would say that there is potential for improvement in reducing the need for customer support to accomplish common tasks. When I'm hired by companies to make suggestions to improve their productivity, easy targets are always those manual tasks that can be automated and put in the controls of the end-user. To give you one example, right now if a user has multiple HD teams in as many worlds and he purchases a 10-pack it is automatically assigned to one of the teams. Then he needs to request customer support to transfer the seasons to the other teams. There should be a simple feature on the User's Information page to allow a user to re-balance the pre-purchased seasons. But something I was amazed to find out is that Dynasty games are not designed to allow for a rolling phase of upgrades and changes. Currently any significant changes to a dynasty game page will impact all worlds at the same time, and WIS is reluctant to implement a change during a tournament, and with seven worlds the window of opportunity is either small or has to be artificially created with exhibition games for all worlds. I think there is an easy solution to this problem with dynamically linked pages referenced from a database. Finally, it is surprising that Dynasty games don't allow new users to purchase teams when they are ready to buy. I think WIS should target a certain number of vacant teams in the D-III level to allow walk-up customers to purchase and reserve a team. Then I think WIS should create new worlds at a steady pace until the number of D-III vacancies is achieved and maintained. Like many other industries, you design capacity so supply is slightly larger than demand, and you can realize the ready customer.

WIS

What are some of your other aliases?

Infinitebob

Like most HD users I use other aliases to get multiple teams in a single world. Here is a complete list of mine: bostonbob, odinthenorse & tarek_kamil.

WIS

Which coaches, past or present, did you draw on for inspiration?

Infinitebob

Right now I have a lot of appreciation for Bill Belichick. When you contrast his accomplishments at New England with his failures in Cleveland you realize that in sports, history does not predict the future. Then consider what he's accomplished with Patriot teams that absent the championships no one would consider any of the players a candidate for the hall-of-fame.

WIS

Who are your favorite players in today's game?

Infinitebob

I like any player that takes their job seriously, respects the fans, realizes that they are a lucky SOB to be playing the game at the level they are, and understands that their moment is short and they need to make the most of it. That's what excelling in sports is all about.

WIS

What players did you admire most growing up?

Infinitebob

Growing up in the Cincinnati market, before cable, the local sports teams dominated the print and TV media. The Big Red Machine of the '70s will always be special to anyone from the area and lived the experience.

WIS

Build your all-time dream college basketball team:

Infinitebob

So many to choose from. I'm sure there would be many who disagree with my picks, but I'd start with Pete Maravich, Steve Kerr, John Havlicek, Charles Barkley, and Lou Alcindor. Good thing there's WhatIfSports NBA SimLeague to put them together on one team and see how they would compete.

WIS

What are your favorite teams?

Infinitebob

The 1998-99 Xavier Musketeers. Darnell Williams tears his ACL in a team sponsored summer tour of Ireland. This was supposed to be a special year with seniors Williams, Gary Lumpkin, James Posey, and mrsibob's favorite player, Lenny Brown. This was the first year we had season tickets, and each game at the Cincinnati Gardens was fun to watch. Shutout of the NCAA tournament, Xavier accepts a bit in the NIT. Xavier goes on to defeat Toledo, Wake Forest, and Princeton to advance to MSG. Mrs.iBob and I pack up our firstborn (6 months old) and drive through the night to be at the first game, where Xavier lost to Clemson 79-76. In the capsulation game Xavier crushes Oregon 106-75. Not Xavier's most successful team, but it was one that was fun to watch.

WIS

Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?

Infinitebob

John Feinstein, Frank Deford, Bill Cosby, Nelson DeMille, & Richard Branson

WIS

Did you play much basketball growing up?

Infinitebob

I have no athletic talent. I played organized basketball at the elementary school level in a Northern KY Catholic school league, but that was about it. Once sports required try-outs and talent I knew I was done. Awhile back I created a thread titled, "What if you were a recruit ...", encouraging others to post what they think their attributes would be. Here's what I posted.

Player Ratings:

  • Name, Ht, Wt: Infinitebob, 5'12", 205lbs
  • Year: Fr.
  • Pos.: SF
  • A: 3
  • BH: 7
  • P: 10
  • SPD: 11
  • DE: 21
  • REB: 18
  • BLK: 12
  • PE: 21
  • LP: 18
  • ST: 51
  • DU: 65
  • WE: 39
  • FT: C+
  • TOT: 276

I cringe at the possible evaluation report from the assistant coach.

WIS

What are your thoughts on the current state(s) of collegiate and professional athletics?

Infinitebob

I'm a big fan of college sports and I'm in favor of anything that maintains the pure spirit and nature of the games. The teams, coaches and players are a huge asset to the Colleges and University, but the NCAA rules need to be designed to maintain the credibility of the Student-Athlete and these rules need to be enforced.

WIS

What, if anything, would you change about college basketball?

Infinitebob

I would like to see more players complete their four years and get their degrees. How do you influence that? I'm pleased with David Stern's movement to create an age limit for the NBA.

WIS

In Hoops Dynasty, how do you approach recruiting? How much of an edge do you think your strategy and subsequent results give you per season?

Infinitebob

I re-invent my strategy every time, and then wander off my game plan somewhere during the second or third recruiting cycle. I've been lucky some seasons, but I've also lost a lot of my budget going all in during a recruiting battle. I don't think it's a good idea to have a static recruiting strategy. I think flexibility is required. Recently at EKU I wasted my entire D-I recruiting budget chasing players that were above my reach. I'll suffer the wrath of the AD and hope I salvage the season with existing players.

WIS

What style offense/defense do you choose to run? Does it vary based on the roster?

Infinitebob

Right now I like Motion / Man-to-Man for my D-I team (EKU in Smith). But I'm trying a Triangle/zone for my D-II team (Quincy in Rupp), and Fast-Break/Press for my D-III team (Salve Regina in Crum).

WIS

What is your basic strategy for setting your depth chart? How many players do you normally play in a game?

Infinitebob

For Fast Break, Press or Fast Tempo I like to play 8-10 players. For Zone or Slow Tempo I like to play 6-7 players. Everything else I'll play 7 or 8 players. Naturally then I've got players crossing positions. I want my guards to have good BH, PE, and DEF. I want my post players to have good REB, LP, and DEF. I want the small forward to be well rounded.

WIS

Approximately how much practice time do you devote to offensive/defensive sets?

Infinitebob

Depending on the make-up of the team it can vary between 10 minutes per set for a senior laden team to 20 minutes for a freshman-dominated team.

WIS

How do you approach allotting individual practice time?

Infinitebob

All my walk-ons get 95 minutes of conditioning and the rest study hall. I want to make sure they are in the best shape of their lives after their experience of sitting at the end of the bench. All freshmen get 15 minutes of study hall, and will gradually go down, as their GPA stays high. Any skill between 0-20 may get zero minutes dedicated toward it. The rest depends on how you use the player, and what skills you hope come out in the game.

WIS

How do you deal with relatively new features such as offensive distribution, double-teaming, red shirts, etc.?

Infinitebob

I've rarely red shirted a player. Double-teaming has its risks, so I only use it if I think it provides me a clear advantage and the perceived risk is minimal. Offensive distribution is a new feature I use the most. This control allows me to define different player roles, especially if you have players on the team that are great defenders but not so great offensively.

WIS

What do you believe is your biggest key to success?

Infinitebob

I may look at this game different than most. Someone that is a basketball coach may approach the game using conventional sports logic. I have an IT background with some experience in Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems. I try to anticipate programming logic by asking the question, "If I was the programmer what would I do?" I think my view of HD as a computer model wrapped in a sports package has aided me in my limited success.

WIS

What teams/coaches have proven to be your biggest challenge?

Infinitebob

I'm frustrated that I've not been able to get past the Sweet-16 in the National Tournament. Those coaches that have beaten me in the tournament represent my biggest challenge, the inability to advance. This is a complex game. Some coaches have the ability to see things that others do not. Some coaches know what moves to make in game strategy. Most of the time, I've lost to teams that had equal or lesser talent and the coach simply beat me in the game prep.

WIS

You are relatively well known because you post in the forums? What is one thing many users would be surprised to know about you?

Infinitebob

I guess it depends on which lie I've told that they still believe. I can still remember the stares of disbelief among the WhatIfSports staff as I identified myself as infintebob to them at the Reds Outing.

WIS

Which users do you respect the most?

Infinitebob

I live with one, mrsibob, and I have lunch frequently with a few (anux, tapdatazz, mswilso2). It's natural for us to discuss HD recruiting and game strategies when we get together. But, then there are others that I've only met on-line through the forums or coaches' corner (Plumpy, preule, slep24, will_prosper, dherz_263, jimmybosox, Nellie, kobylesky, ichor & r0b0 ... to name a few.)

WIS

Which users do you enjoy the most?

Infinitebob

The nice ones. Plumpy is probably the nicest guy I've never met. He's partly responsible for getting mrsibob to start playing Hoops Dynasty. She would always read the forums using my ID and I would ask her with each new season if she wanted me to purchase a team for her. She always said "No", but it wasn't until one morning there was a thread started by Plumpy saying "Hi" to Mrs.iBob. From that salutation she wanted to reply. So we set up her username and purchased an NBA team for her so she could start posting.

WIS

Do you offer advice and comments on the coaches' corner page? Have any other coaches sought you out for help?

Infinitebob

I create a lot of nonsense threads that I hope entertain, but occasionally I create a thread that is meaningful to HD. Two of which come to mind. "Twenty Questions with Admin", was the result of my idea to interview Admin over email and then I would post the answers in a thread. Admin had a better idea where he would reply to the questions in the thread from multiple users. I think this was a big hit and may have been the birth of the Developer's Chat. The other one was when I had the idea of sending out a survey to some of the leading or vocal HD coaches on the forums and ask them questions about how they approach HD. I later compiled the answers into generalized comments. That exercise was fun and informative. I've also been contacted via site mail to help, but anyone asking has got to realize that you're asking for someone's time. So they should take the time to ask specific questions. I typically will ignore the requests that read like, "Hey, I coach Thomas More in Allen, could you look at my team and tell me what I'm doing wrong?" I'm not going to waste my time on something that open-ended.

WIS

What advice can you give to rookie coaches in Division III?

Infinitebob

Have fun, experiment, and learn. D-III is all about learning the game. You don't have to be successful to get promoted to D-II, you can get there on experience alone, but it will take you longer. Learn effective recruiting strategies. Learn how to scout the other team. Learn how to set your team based on what you think the other team's coach will do. Learn how to spots someone's weakness and exploit it.

WIS

What advice do you have for coaches who have just made the transition to DII?

Infinitebob

Since you have accepted a job at D-II I'm assuming you are serious about the game and want to go further. Now it is time to apply what you have learned at D-III. While D-III should be focused on having fun, D-II should be focused on short-term and long-term goals. You've made quite an investment to get to D-II; now don't waste it with reckless or foolish moves.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of HD?

Infinitebob

Rebuilding a decimated team. You commit to 4 seasons (1/2 a calendar year) to rebuild a program that was neglected by previous coaches. I've been successful doing this with several teams, and anux and I discuss different experiments to conduct while doing a rebuild. A rebuild affords you the opportunity to demonstrate any ideas you may have and want to test.

WIS

Based on user feedback, Hoops Dynasty has been ever changing since it began in March of 2004, what changes have you seen that you liked the most?

Infinitebob

I remember season one and it is nothing like today's game. I've liked nearly all of the changes. From more controls for game play, to the improvements in recruiting tools, all of the changes make the game more both challenging and enjoyable.

WIS

What changes haven't you liked?

Infinitebob

Taking 1/2 the remaining budget away. There are many recruiting strategies to building or maintaining a team. This one change is targeted to handicap only one of those strategies. I've had teams with full rosters for a season or two, it was frustrating to see the team's share of the conference's post season money evaporate.

WIS

What is your least favorite aspect of Hoops Dynasty? If you could change one thing about HD, what would it be?

Infinitebob

The game is progressive. Last season feeds this season and this season feeds the next. With this is mind the game can be very demanding and is a valid reason many of us call it an addiction. So, with consideration of how much time many of us put into the game, I was disappointed in the lack of attention paid by WIS with regard to the Season 2 recruiting anomaly where a handful of coaches recruited perceived unobtainable players. It was obvious that was not within the design parameters of the game because after season 2 the recruiting strategy utilized was no longer effective. But by leaving those players at the D-III level created an unfair advantage for a small number of coaches and an imbalanced World for four seasons. In my opinion every one of those players would have evaluated if his talents were wasted at the lower level and possibly transfer another team.

WIS

What is your ultimate goal in Hoops Dynasty?

Infinitebob

Take Boston College to consecutive National Championships and be able to consistently sign the #1 ranked player overall season after season.

User Profile

LoginID:Infinitebob
Name:Keith Chalk
Age: 37
Location: Fort Thomas, Kentucky
Education: BS - Northern Kentucky University
Occupation: Computer Consultant
Spouse:mrsibob
Children:Boy 6, Girl 3, Boy 4mths
Favorite Sport(s):Basketball, Football, and Baseball
Favorite Team(s): Xavier Musketeers, New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Boston College Eagles
Favorite Sports Memories: Super Bowl XXXVI - After St. Louis ties the game with 1:30 left to play in regulation. John Madden informing the Fox viewing audience that the best thing for the Patriots is to let the game go into overtime and not risk a turnover deep in their own territory. Without timeouts Brady's passes move the ball to the Ram's 30-yard line with 7 seconds remaining. Adam Vinatieri rises to the occasion and drills a 48-yard field goal to win the game. (Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX were pretty good too.)

Xavier's Elite-Eight Run in 2004 - The season after National Play of the Year awards winner David West graduates and moves on to the NBA, and asked the question, "What does Xavier do without David West?" After a rough start, the Xavier Musketeers mount an improbable run that would include a dominating win over undefeated St. Joseph in March, the Atlantic-10 Conference championship, and spectacular wins in the NCAA championship against Louisville, Mississippi St., and Texas. Xavier was within 5 minutes of beating Duke and taking their spot in the Final Four. This unprecedented success is from a team that looked to be spiraling out of control in two months earlier.

The 2004 World Series. Does it get any better than this? Down 3-0 to the NY Yankees in the ALC series the Red Sox mount a comeback that even Hollywood could not produce. The drama of game four of the 2004 ALC series, extra innings, clutch hitting, and Curt Schilling's ankle. Yankees vs. BoSox was there anything better? Oh, yeah they go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals the team with the best record in baseball the team that would burst their bubble the team that would remind them of The Curse. (Also, St. Louis is the team that WIS projected to win.) I can't imagine any better ending to a baseball season.

Member Since:March 2004
Greatest WIS Moment(s):Sharing Hoops Dynasty with my wife (mrsibob). Prior to becoming part of the WIS community she would remind me that my players were not real people as I referred to them by their name. Now, she starts her day reviewing her box score from the overnight game, ends her day with game planning, and in-between she's a regular participant on the forums and a HoFer on the Shtickless threads. WhatIfSports outings and poker games. The WIS site staff are an awesome bunch of guys, and my wife is looking forward to the next opportunity. The whole iBob family plans on being in attendance. Watching my wife's team make an elite-eight run in Season 1 of Crum. (The best I've been able to accomplish is a couple sweet-sixteen appearances.) Getting to D-I, Long Island in SMITH. By luck I got a team late in the job application process between season 6 and 7. It was vacated by (cyoung187). I had to leave behind a ranked D-II team that had a very talented freshman class, but it was worth it. I was surprised at the success I had in my first season. On the last day of job applications just before Season 8 is to begin I reply to the Bender's inquiry of a D-I coach looking to move up to create a vacancy for him. I comply and take the job at EKU so he can move up to D-I and take over Long Island.
Worst WIS Moment(s):Starting the "Cheat Code Thread" - and other careless lies told and believed by others. The thread about cheat codes and other lies I've posted were not intended to hurt anyone. I was trying to have fun with a little preposterous humor. I even created the unbelievable character of a 72-year-old man riding a Segway, with a trophy wife and young children to clue people in that I should not be taken seriously. Contributing to verbal assaults and attacks in the Forums and Coaches Corner. Each time it usually starts with something I've written being taken the wrong way, and the offended party challenges the statement. On a few occasions, instead of being mature about it and attempting to clarify my message I've aggravated and escaladed the confrontations. So I'll take this opportunity to apologize to msstrauss and SuperStar305. My comments direct to you and your families were immature and wrong.
Motto:In every situation you have the FREEDOM to make choices and you own the RESPONSIBILITY of your actions.

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