User Interview: Rarlinghaus

Q&A with noted Hoops Dynasty user Rarlinghaus

We recently met with four time HD national champion Rarlinghaus to discuss recruiting, game plans, the current HD promotion, the University of Kentucky, Eric Davis, Lucious Veit, practice minutes, Dream Teams and Kevin Garnett.

WIS

Who is rarlinghaus?

Rarlinghaus

I am a 30 year old project manager for a construction company in Dayton, OH. I am married with a kid who is two. I have nine brothers and sisters. So far, we have four who have degrees from the University of Kentucky (UK), one there now, two others who went there and transferred and two in high school who will likely go. When the first of us was headed there, my dad figured he would save money on room and board by buying a house near campus, so we have all lived in that house.

WIS

How did you learn about whatifsports.com?

Rarlinghaus

One of my older brothers told me about it when I was in college. He had heard about WhatIfsports on the Lance McAllister show in Cincinnati. At the time, the site had the Dream Teams, so another brother and sister of mine and I started playing around with that. Then, I played a spring baseball team and was hooked.

WIS

What games of ours have you played?

Rarlinghaus

SimLeague Baseball, SimLeague Basketball, Hoops Dynasty (HD), Gridiron Dynasty (GD) and exhibitions in the other SimLeauges.

WIS

Which is your favorite?

Rarlinghaus

HD, though GD is getting close with me. Being a UK fan and alum, it is natural to follow HD. At first, I was not sure about getting excited about all of those fake guys, but it is actually really cool - especially when you can see them do well and end up going pro. Anyone who has the chance should take advantage of the promotion going now for HD, they won't regret it.

WIS

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

Rarlinghaus

Fantasy sports - baseball, basketball and football. I play softball and, until recently, played flag football. Every summer, I like to make at least one trip to a new baseball stadium.

WIS

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

Rarlinghaus

A few things. One is our competitive nature. With sports, you can have friendly competition with others. It is also entertainment. Instead of having to worry about anything else, you can just sit down, throw a game on and get away. It's a good distraction.

WIS

Who are your favorite players of all-time?

Rarlinghaus

Eric Davis and Griffey (Jr.) in baseball. With Griffey, I had his rookie card in an Upper Deck pack I collected. I didn't know who he was at the time, but I started to follow his career when I looked and saw he was from Cincinnati. In basketball, I love Garnett. As a fantasy player, I always want him on my team because he does everything. And on the court, he gets on his guys.

WIS

What are your favorite teams?

Rarlinghaus

Reds, Bengals and UK. I don't follow them as much anymore, but I like the Pacers in the NBA.

WIS

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

Rarlinghaus

I stopped playing basketball as a freshman in high school. Baseball was my sport. I played that from age 5 to 18. I was a utility guy, switching between outfield and infield throughout my four years in high school.

WIS

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

Rarlinghaus

I would like to be in attendance when UK wins a basketball championship. I have actually had the opportunity to do that twice. In 1996, my dad had a ticket and I wanted to go, but it was my senior year of high school and my baseball coach said he would not start me for the rest of the year if I missed practice to go to the game. It wasn't even a game; it was practice. Then, in 1998, I had a student ticket to the Final Four game where we beat Stanford. I could have gone to the final as well, but I had a mid-term the morning after that and the final was in San Antonio. Playing for three championships in a row, I figured I would get a chance soon again.

WIS

What is your greatest WIS moment?

Rarlinghaus

I won one SimLeague Baseball World Series and a DIII National Championship, but my first DI National Championship was the best. I had been at South Carolina all four years so they were all my own guys. I had tried to get to UK, but another coach beat me out. That season, UK had three losses, all to South Carolina - twice in the regular season and once in the Final Four.

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?

Rarlinghaus

Well, I don't think I'm one of the best gameplanners, so I have to do something. Recruiting makes a big difference. I put a lot into recruiting. I look at all the guys and rank them according to what I need on my team and what others around me need as well. You need to look at other schools' needs so you can pick your battles. Generally though, I will choose one or two guys and go after them hard no matter what - promising minutes, starting games, etc. - until I get them. If I want a guy, I get him. I have only missed on a couple of those types of players in all of my seasons playing.

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?

Rarlinghaus

I strictly do man-to-man and motion now. A little while ago, I went through all the teams that made the tournament over 3-4 seasons to look at their success in the tournament and during the season and see what they were running. Man-to-man and motion were used the most so I went with that. If you recruit well, you can do well with those. With man-to-man though, you can't have any bad defensive players.

WIS

What is your basic strategy for setting your depth chart?

Rarlinghaus

Since I offer whatever I need to during recruiting, I often need to start some guys and get them their minutes. If I have a team that I know will make the tournament anyway, I will often start some of my freshman and make sure they get their minutes early in games during the regular season. Then, in the tournament, I switch up my depth chart. That is risky because you have to know that you have a tournament caliber team. Wins and losses in the regular season mean a lot to some people, but I don't pay much attention to them. I want the best team come tourney time.

WIS

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

Rarlinghaus

15-20. Usually 20 for each unless I have a really experienced team.

WIS

How do you approach allotting individual practice time?

Rarlinghaus

I love to work on rebounding. Really, I focus on where a player can improve the most and target that. In general, rebounding, defense and either low-post or perimeter - based on position - are important. I used to focus on FT's, but that does not seem to make much difference any more. You can only get a half grade or so out of a player if you practice FTs hard for four years. You used to be able to get more. I did an analysis to figure out how many points I would be scoring if I increased my FT percentage and determined I should work on that. It's not as big of a deal anymore.

WIS

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

Rarlinghaus

Jeffery Stock from South Carolina is one. He was my first top ten overall recruit and ended up leaving early for the NBA after his junior season Lucious Veit at Milwaukee Engineering was one of my first great recruits. He is still the leading scorer in the school's history.

WIS

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

Rarlinghaus

I'll get some questions from other coaches in the conference and I am always willing to answer with what I know. Coaches from schools where I previously coached check in a lot and I like to help them.

WIS

Who are the users you respect the most?

Rarlinghaus

gmckel1, who is at UK now actually, dexterdduane, 1olddawg, oldresorter, acecards, broktune310 and vegaskevin who hates UK and always go back and forth about it.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of HD?

Rarlinghaus

Recruiting is the most fun, but I really like talking with the guys on the conference message boards and in the world forums.

WIS

Based on user feedback, Hoops Dynasty has been ever-changing since it began in March of 2004, including a major update last year. What are your thoughts on the update? What changes have you seen that you liked the most?

Rarlinghaus

Well, some things were fixed which I wasn't sure about at first, but now I liked. I love non-conference scheduling. A lot of guys will try to find the best opponents who they can beat so they can improve their RPIs. I just like to play all the guys I know and have played against at different levels.

WIS

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

Rarlinghaus

There is not much I don't like. One thing that I would like to see is the addition of pre-season tournaments.

WIS

What is your ultimate goal in Hoops Dynasty? Have you reached it?

Rarlinghaus

I want to coach UK, but I'll have to wait until someone retires or is fired at this point. That, or win back-to-back DI titles. I don't that has ever been done before.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, which sport would you play? At which position? And, what would you be rated?

Rarlinghaus

Sticking with HD, I would definitely be in DIII. I would be ok at defense and speed, but below average in everything else. And that was 5-6 years ago.

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