User Interview: Antonsirius

Q&A with noted Hoops Dynasty user Antonsirius

College basketball season is in full-swing with conference play upon us. At WhatIfSports.com though, the madness has continued on for almost a year since the advent of our Hoops Dynasty game that puts users in complete control of college programs. Everyone starts at the DIII level and works to make it up the ranks to a DI school. When we wrote this for Delynn10's interview a year ago, there were just three users at the DI level in any world. Now, coaches in every world are ascending the ranks of DI toward their dream jobs.

We recently caught up with Antonsirius, who has succeeded at every level in multiple worlds, including winning one National Championship and boasts a .615 winning percentage in over 1200 HD games, to discuss recruiting, setting practice times, the tribal identifier, Ziggy Stardust, Peyton Manning, the -5 defense and Pistol Pete.

WIS

Who is Antonsirius?

Antonsirius

Anton Sirius is the alter ego of Erik Siegrist, writer and ne'er-do-well. Originally Anton was the character I adopted when reviewing films for the film geek website Ain't It Cool News, sort of a Ziggy Stardust/Zaphod Beeblebrok hybrid, but over time the sci-fi trappings have dropped away.

WIS

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

Antonsirius

Started out playing the baseball sim, thanks to the inevitable Bill Simmons column. I still have fond memories of grinding out the last few seasons of the Iditarod (10 season cumulative blacklist league) and being thrilled when I could dig up a second baseman with decent defense and an OBP over .350. When Hoops Dynasty started up, I missed out on the signups for season 1 - a mistake I made sure not to repeat for season 2 Naismith, which began a nightmarish descent into a world of shattered sleep cycles that continues to this day.

WIS

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

Antonsirius

I've tried spring leagues for the other sports sims, but none of them really grabbed me. Baseball's the only one I play semi-regularly. I tried Gridiron Dynasty in the beginning, packed it in after season 3 due to various frustrations, but recently started giving it another shot.

WIS

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

Antonsirius

Well, as a writer I try to packrat as much as I can into my brain, no matter how weird or trivial the subject. But in terms of what occupies my time I watch a lot of movies, listen to a lot of music (check my profile on lastfm.com!), read when I can, play a fair bit of poker, sing an ungodly amount of karaoke and drink a little more than is strictly necessary.

WIS

Why do you think it is that sports are so big in our culture?

Antonsirius

Oooh, a deep one. I'm big on the tribal identifier explanation there. Humans have a pack instinct, which both playing team sports and being a fan of a particular team or school or player satisfies.

WIS

Who are your favorite players of all-time?

Antonsirius

Wow. There's a long list. In basketball, Pistol Pete Maravich is the first basketball player I can remember seeing play. I'm a big fan of point guards, having been one myself - Nash, Stockton, those guys. Among the current younger players I don't think Chris Bosh gets half the recognition he should.

WIS

What are your favorite teams?

Antonsirius

I'm doomed to be a Cubs fan for the most mundane of reasons - my grandmother had a crush on Harry Caray. I grew up in Knoxville, which means I'm a Vols fan, which means I'm now a Colts fan because of Peyton. It'll be considered sacrilege by some, but other than the Cubs I'm not a "lifer" for any team - I root for teams that feature my favorite players, and then move on when they do. Before the Colts, for instance, I was a Lions fan because Barry Sanders was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen on a football field.

My hatreds, however, are forever. Nothing will ever make me feel anything but loathing for the Broncos, for instance.

WIS

Did you play much basketball or baseball (or other sports) growing up?

Antonsirius

Big into baseball (mostly a shortstop) and hockey (goalie) when I was younger. Played a little bit of basketball, but not much, and I sucked.

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

Antonsirius

If we're talking pure fantasy, coach or manage either an NFL or MLB team. If we're talking something a bit more attainable, someday attending at least one finals game for every major sport. Yes, that includes the World Cup. If the writing thing never pans out, I've also considered trying to get into baseball scouting.

WIS

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

Antonsirius

Same as it ever was? Actually, that only applies to the industries. In terms of quality of play, I believe that every generation is greater than the one before it - I don't see how you can even argue otherwise, given the advances in medical science and training techniques and the like.

WIS

What is your greatest WIS moment?

Antonsirius

Easy - becoming National Goddamn Champion of Naismith. Second is becoming a SHoFer.

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?

Antonsirius

I try to have a very flexible approach to recruiting. I'm not married to any one O or D, so I look for the specific ratings that fit whatever the team is running rather than always looking for "my" kind of player. I do put a high emphasis on 'intangibles' when I can though - WE, GPA, FT% -- because in all cases starting out with good numbers there pays off down the road in saved and augmented practice minutes.

I also pay absolutely no attention to the WIS-supplied rankings. No offense, but they're kind of crap. I'm rather proud of the fact that, as far as I can recall, I've never had a ranked recruiting class outside of the glitch recruit class in Smith.

WIS

What style offense/defense do you choose to run? Does it vary based on the school/roster? And, what, if anything, do you change when winning/losing late?

Antonsirius

The sets I have the least experience in are Flex and Zone (not including the combined defenses) but otherwise I've used them all. No favorites.

I tend to push my defense out a couple of points late when winning, to guard against a barrage of threes, and of course I kick up the tempo when losing late, but otherwise I don't do anything drastic. I trust my talent.

WIS

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

Antonsirius

Depends on the roster, and the sets. With the more stressful sets I make sure to go 10 deep if I can, but on a team running, say, Triangle-Man I'll use the players I want on the court, STA willing, whether that's seven or eleven of them.

WIS

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

Antonsirius

Lately I've been either using 25/25, if it's a young team still learning their sets, or alternating between 25/0 and 0/25 for a more experienced team. I'm also not afraid to throw everything into individual minutes if every key member of the rotations is at B+ or better.

WIS

How do you approach allotting individual practice time?

Antonsirius

Defense first, whether that's Footwork for a Man team or Conditioning for a Press team. Actually Conditoning tends to get a fair number of minutes no matter what sets I'm running - I want my best players on the court and at their best for as long as possible.

I don't usually go over 25 minutes in any one area, unless the player truly has nothing else he can work on.

WIS

What are your thoughts on maintaining academic standards/requirements?

Antonsirius

It's important to me - I like my players to head into their junior years at a 3.0 GPA or better. Of course that starts back in recruiting too; it's not just a product of how much Study Hall I give them as under-classmen.

WIS

Do you have any favorite players from any of your HD or SimLeague baseball teams?

Antonsirius

It was cool seeing John Hochstetler, the starting two guard on my National Goddamn Championship St. Francis squad, get drafted as a junior, and I'll check back once in a while and see which of my 'glitch' recruits from season 2 still hold DIII schools records (Falcon and Moran at Lincoln in Smith, for instance).

WIS

What do you believe is your biggest key to success?

Antonsirius

Adaptability. Trying not to get stuck in ruts, whether in terms of recruiting or game planning or what have you. Always looking to learn new things about the game.

Also, joining Shtickless has been huge. It's almost become a cliché, but Shtickless is the greatest HD resource and think tank out there. Just being a part of that group has raised my game to another level.

WIS

Have any other coaches sought you out for help? Do you mind helping other users?

Antonsirius

I'm always willing to help other coaches on the boards. I've exchanged emails with people taking over teams behind me as I get promotions over what I had in mind for the roster, although they usually seem to go their own way.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of HD?

Antonsirius

The sense of continuity and history; that feeling of really building a career as a coach, of having to earn your way to the top, is fantastic, and of the reasons I far prefer HD to the more "instant gratification" philosophy of GD where the elite jobs are already mostly full.

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?

Antonsirius

The additional game controls are interesting, but I like the "color" changes more - the draft, the coach vs. coach records, that sort of thing. Fleshing out the world around the game appeals to me a lot.

WIS

What changes haven't you liked?

Antonsirius

DAMN YOU MINUS-5 DEFENSE!!!!!! No, seriously, I can't think of a change that really jumped out at me as a bad idea.

WIS

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

Antonsirius

Ideally I'd like more interaction with the recruits. The whole process could stand to be a little more organic, and a little less formulaic.

WIS

What is your ultimate goal in Hoops Dynasty?

Antonsirius

I've reached DI in four worlds, and have three 'big' schools (Villanova, Tennessee and Gonzaga) and four smaller programs (Santa Clara - which I've reached in Smith, LSU, Providence and Louisiana Tech) I'd like to coach.

User Profile

LoginID:Antonsirius
Name:Erik Siegrist
Age:34
Location:Toronto, Ontario
Education:High school grad
Occupation: Writer
Favorite Sport(s):Baseball
Favorite Team(s):Cubs
Favorite Sports Memories:Stopping a penalty shot in the dying seconds to send my team into the playoffs in my first year as a goalie; all the frustrated looks I got from catchers after my fifth or sixth stolen base of a game.
Member Since:August, 2002
Greatest WIS Moment:National Goddamn Champion of Naismith
Motto:Laugh while you can, monkey boy.

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