No disclaimer should be required but I'll provide one anyway. Most of what is here is based on a system that I made up and has no real accuracy to it whatsoever. Since I designed the system, it is not surprising that it favors my team. But since I was told that a write-up is required, I'm using it as the basis for ordering, ranking, etc. So with that disclaimer out of the way ....
Teams rated by total talent
5. Castleton State
6. Mount Ida
9. Salem State
10. Johnson State
Teams rated by use of talent
4. Castleton State
5. Mount Ida
8. Johnson State
10. Salem State
Total talent reflects the entire 12 man roster, including those being redshirted. Use of talent proportionally weights the rating to minutes on the court. Because 12th men rarely impact things much, I'm using the latter number for ratings. (And any team that is using their 12th man will have it show up anyway.)
Before I get started, a quick note about what I did. I pulled the stats for non-conference play and used them as a big part of the basis for the write-up. To make things a bit more equal, most of the stats below are numbers projected per 40 minutes so what you see are rate stats instead of raw stats. I also figured out the shooting efficiency and true shooting percentages of players since that's a bit more telling that pure points since points are as much a function of attempts than anything else.
One final thing to point out is that I thought I gave myself plenty of time this past Friday to get this done and then I ended up spending almost the entire day away from the computer. That makes this both out of date and a bit incomplete. I'm going to write this from the perspective that conference play hasn't yet started since that is what the stats are based on. Because I ended up getting yanked away from my computer, I only partially completed listing the RPI's and SOS for the teams so I apologize for those being incomplete.
And with that said ....
Thomas: 10-0, 1 RPI, 1 SOS, #1 rating
Most Talented Player: Eric Kerney, 19.1 min, 60% FG, 6.4 pt, 6 reb, 1 blk
Player being used too much: Cory Bjorklund (2nd in usage, 8th in talent)
Player being used too little: Clinton Schweiger (6th in usage, 5th in talent)
Future Star: Robert Holt, FR SF (+25)
Thomas has since lost a game so it makes this a bit easier to note ... but it is pretty difficult to complain about an undefeated bunch that has the #1 ranking and #1 RPI. However, that rarely stops me from complaining about Thomas. It's awkward to say since the Terriers are undefeated in non-conference play but I see a lot of weaknesses that are concerning, especially since I didn't foresee them at the beginning of the season. Thomas was ranked #1 because the offense is playing amazingly well. I did not predict it and I'm not sure it is sustainable. Thomas has zero threats from three point range although there are some that are still developing. Thomas looks better on the inside but I wouldn't say it is anything special. And both those numbers ignore the fact that Thomas is a poor passing team -- and I mean poor by any standards not just those of an A+ squad. Nevertheless, Thomas finished non-conference play shooting 53% from the field. I just don't see that sticking.
On the other hand the defense was spotty and the rebounding was below average. Thomas is a net plus on the boards for the season but that is only because so many of Thomas' shots are dropping. Thomas gets many more opportunities to rebound on the defensive end but if chances were equal, Thomas would be getting outrebounded. I find that really surprising for a team with an overall rebounding rating of 44, four players with 80+ rebounding, and two players with 90+ rebounding. The zone is a poor defensive choice for rebounding, but typically when I have had teams with ratings this good, I am a solid rebounding team. This season I'm not and I don't get it. I also don't get why the defense has been spotty. The speed on Thomas isn't terrific but it's not too bad. But both the athleticism and the defense are #1 in D3. The combo of those three rankings were pretty much the same last season and I had the #1 FG/FG3 defense in D3. This season I'm nowhere near that and it has me confused.
Cory Bjorklund being used too much is unfortunately intentional. Bjorklund is starting so that (1) his work ethic can improve and (2) he never plays point guard. He doesn't deserve to start. I do wonder how much a player like him getting extra minutes is hurting me.
I really don't know what to make of Thomas. Very little is following the script I would have predicted. Thomas should win the South although Mount Ida looks to present a challenge to that, something that would not have been predicted preseason. Thomas might also win the NAC overall due to the teams in the North beating up on each other every night. While my formula suggest my team is the best, it is my formula and given the performance on the court I don't think I agree with it. I think Thomas is likely in the top 3 in the NAC and it wouldn't be shocking if they finish #1. Right now I think Thomas is either the #2 or #3 team in the NAC; right now I think Thomas is closer to #4 than #1.
-- John Bradley gets a super-high distribution for Thomas but he's only #7 in terms of TS% and #8 for eFG%. He's shooting way too much.
-- Bruce Sawyer leads the team in TS% and eFG% by a good margin. It's a fluke but somehow he managed to finish non-conference play shooting 6 for 7 from the field ... and 18 for 29 from the line. (No that's not a typo.)
Prediction: 12-4, 1st place NAC South
Becker: 8-2, 39 RPI, 85 SOS, #9 rating
Most Talented Player: Clyde Hasson, 27.3 min, 46% FG, 44% FG3, 15.4 pt, 2.2 reb, 3.0 ast
Player being used too much: Donald Conyers (4th in usage, 6th in talent)
Player being used too little: Sherman Bernard (10th in usage, 8th in talent)
Future Star: Donald Conyers, JR C & Sherman Bernard, JR C (+18)
Not sure what to make of Becker. A blunt tool like OVR suggests that Becker is the #1 team in NAC. My formula suggests the team is ranked #3 in the NAC for total talent and #2 for how it is being utilized. This looks like a really good team. That said, (1) the ratings overrate Becker because the IQ's are a bit of a mess due to switching sets and (2) I have a hard time looking how Becker performed last season in addition to the two losses in non-conference play and concluding they they are *the* elite of the NAC. I think this is good team but I'm not sure they are great. I hope to be proven wrong and it isn't like the two losses are embarrassing. I'd feel much better, however, if Becker had at least gone 9-1 in non-conference play.
ixolabrat is doing a nice job of using the talent available effectively. Clyde Hasson is shooting the ball most frequently and also is scoring at the best rate. Erik Sullivan might be the one player who is shooting too much. His eFG% of 50 and TS% of 52.2 aren't all that special for a player getting the 3rd most shots on the team, and 3rd by a good margin. But he's still a good player and to point that out is to be nitpicking a bit.
If I would have posted this before conference play began I would have predicted the loss to Lasell. I do think Carl's bunch is the team to beat this season. However, Becker probably is the the 1b to Lasell's 1a and nobody should be surprised if they end up winning the NAC North. Even though I do think Becker is 1b, I wouldn't be shocked if they finished 4th in the NAC North. I wouldn't expect it but the North is talented enough that if Becker finds itself on the wrong side of enough 50-50 games, they might end that low.
-- Larry Borges doesn't play much but when he does he makes the most of his limited time. Borges averaged 17.5 points per 40 minutes in non-conference play, which was the 2nd highest mark on the team.
-- Branden Badger might also need more minutes. He only played in 43% of the available minutes but during that time had the highest rebounding rate on the team (13.3/40), fouled least among post players (3.68/40), and shot at a decent clip (53 TS%)
Prediction: 11-5 2nd place NAC North
Lasell: 9-1, 5 RPI, 15 SOS, #4 rating
Most Talented Player: Michael Nau, 20.1 min, 52% FG, 8.5 pt, 6.6 reb, 1.3 blk
Player being used too much: John Dunn (5th in usage, 9th in talent)
Player being used too little: Todd Knecht (11th in usage, 4th in talent)
Future Star: Damian Horodyski, SO SF (+31)
I'm using the eye test on Carl's squad. This looks like the best team in the NAC to me and I'm not sure how close it really is. My formula might think otherwise but I look at Carl's team and see a rather unstoppable bunch. Carl has the best combo of speed and athleticism in the D3 world which makes for a terrific press defense that should make just about every offense in the NAC look silly. Carl has plenty of good rebounders, plenty of folks that can light it up from the outside, and plenty that can post up in the paint. This team really doesn't have weaknesses. Even if Lasell wasn't so good in the other areas, I think the press defense causes so many turnovers that very few NAC teams will stand a chance against him. Maybe I'm buying (creating?) the hype too much but this looks to be the best Lasell team that I can remember in a while and Carl is one of the best D3 coaches in all the HD worlds. I might change my mind but this, to me, looks like the favorite for the national title.
I think maybe the one thing that stand out most to me is his use of Robert Collins. The rest of you probably wouldn't notice it, but he's amazingly similar to John Bradley on Thomas. I'm leaning on Bradley just about as hard as any player I've ever leaned on at Thomas, simply because I don't currently have many better options. Robert Collins is also leading Lasell in scoring but he's doing so at a rate that doesn't far exceed that of teammates and that's because Lasell does has plenty of other good options to score.
As good as the NAC North is, I expect Lasell to steamroll its way through the gauntlet to a rather remarkable season. I think not only will Lasell be the NT favorite, but come selection time they will be sitting with the #1 RPI, #1 ranking, and will deservedly get the #1 overall seed in the NT.
-- Everybody plays on Lasell. The least amount of minutes in non-conference play was Harvey's 144 and the most was Augon's 205.
-- A lot of players score for Lasell. Five average 20+ points per 40 minutes.
-- Lasell's bench is scary good. On a per minute basis, the team's 2nd best scorer (Dunn), best rebounder (Aguon), and top two in steals (Scott, Harvey) all come off the bench. This is a team that has a 2nd string that might squeak into the NT if it was its own team.
Prediction: 14-2 1st place NAC North
Castleton State: 7-3, 6 RPI, 6 SOS, #13 rating
Most Talented Player: Mathew Brown, 23.7 min, 55% FG, 10.4 pt, 7.5 reb, 1.1 blk
Player being used too much: Carl Garrett (3rd in usage, 11th in talent)
Player being used too little: Anthony Grissett (6th in usage, 2nd in talent)
Future Star: Vance Lauritsen, SO C (+27)
Seems odd to say it with a #6 RPI but this seems to be a bit of a down season for Castleton. I suppose that means just a Final Four run instead of another national title. ;) I lump Castleton with Becker in that it wouldn't surprise me if either won the North or finished in the bottom half of the division. One doubts rdb at the risk of looking foolish, but my numbers suggest that Carl Garrett should not be starting for Castleton, much less playing the 3rd most minutes. I first thought maybe he promised minutes to a recruit but Garrett is a sophomore. On the flip side, my numbers suggest Anothony Grissett should be playing more and he looks pretty deadly when he is on the court, but the 67 stamina rating is a bit of a killer for a team that goes fastbreak/press.
My prediction is a bit off because I thought Elms would beat Castleton. But since I'm pretending this writeup occurred at the end of preseason play I'm going to go ahead and assume that. I think Castleton struggles, by their standards, in NAC play and then turns it on in the postseason like they do every freakin' year.
-- Castleton is a pretty poor rebounding squad. The top 3 per 40 minutes are Brown (12.7), Lauritsen (8.6), and Chambers (8.3). Most of us have several that are at 10+.
-- Anthony Grissett is the do everything player when he actually is on the court. He is the leading scorer by far (30.7), has the most assists (5.3), the most turnovers by a good amount (5.4), and also has the most steals by far (4.3). Essentially the ball is always in his hands and when it isn't, he's setting up a teammate to score or his ripping it out of the hands of the opposition.
-- He's a freshman but Brian Osgood is currently fouling at the rate of 7.2 per 40 minutes. Yikes.
Prediction: 9-7 3rd place NAC North
Mount Ida: 8-2, 14 RPI, 48 SOS, #21 rating
Most Talented Player: Tim King, 26.5 min, 49% FG, 14.3 pt, 7.1 reb, 1.3 blk
Player being used too much: James Gregg (9th in usage, 12th in talent)
Player being used too little: John Mertens (5th in usage, 2nd in talent)
Future Star: Lowell Critchlow, SO C & Greg Cardinal, FR C (+26)
On the the message board I purposefully used the term rebuild to describe Mount Ida this season. I didn't use reload because I thought enough talent was being lost that Ida might struggle to make the NT. A solid team for sure but one that was too young to do any damage and one that wasn't going to challenge for the NAC South. Now I'm not so sure they can't make a run at it. I don't expect it but Thomas is a bit weaker than I projected and Ida is a heck of a lot stronger. Given mizzou's strength in gameplanning, he just might be able to pull off this trick.
Ida is making this run on the back of Tim King. Husson's Anthony Foster is getting a lot of love due to his gaudy 777 OVR but my formula has Tim King as almost as valuable a player. In fact, it's close enough that King might overtake him in my formula if he continues to grow. The other thing that Ida is doing extremely well is winning the turnover battle. For a pretty young team, they hold onto the ball. Paul Hail is a true freshman and he has an outstanding A/TO ratio of 3.7. It doesn't really matter if Ida is young if they play like upperclassmen. And while those numbers reflect non-confrence play, I think they are sustainable for the team as a whole since the ball handling and passing ratings of 45 are just outstanding.
As much as I'm praising Ida, they are at a talent deficiency to Thomas. Thomas should win the South and it probably is going to take an Ida sweep of the two games in order for Ida to take the title. But they are a shoe-in for the NT and the fact that I'm talking about a possible division title in their "rebuilding" season is quite the feather in mizzou's cap.
-- Ida doesn't block shots. Only two players on the team average a block per 40.
-- Ida loves to pass. Ida has three players averaging 5+ assists per 40 and another four averaging 3+.
-- Phil Hail's A/TO ratio was noted since he's playing minutes but freshman Aaron Jackson actually has a 4.5 ratio.
-- Despite being the second best player in the NAC, Tim King's eFG% of 49.1 and TS% of 52.7 are rather pedestrian. That said, King's excellence is on the defensive side of the court.
Prediction: 10-6, 2nd place NAC South
Most Talented Player: Anthony Foster, 28.6 min, 50% FG, 46% FG3, 21.2 pt, 7.2 reb, 1.3 stl
Player being used too much: Patrick Reed (6th in usage, 10th in talent)
Player being used too little: Kenny Quirk (7th in usage, 5th in talent)
Future Star: Timothy Hawks, SO PG (+39)
The general theme of rebuild/reload applies to Husson as much as it does Mount Ida. I thought Husson would be a bit more of reload since there was a good amount of talent that was still on campus and that was reinforced when instead of getting a new coach, the program was fortunate enough to grab a good one from D2. Ignoring all that, just having Anthony Foster alone on the team is going to make this one a solid one and if there ends up being good talent by season's end, Husson could make a little run in the NT.
Right now my silly ranking formula probably dislikes what bigtexhawk more than anybody else. I'd take that with a ton of salt. First, the difference between #4 and #6 is minimal. Second, my formula is a crude instrument at best. That said, it doesn't like how much Patrick Reed is being used and while I don't think that is the fault of the coach, it is a reflection that the guards on Husson are extremely young and somebody has to play. Reed is actually the best choice to be the first guard off the bench; my formula just does not like that a player so inexperienced is playing so much.
I'll be interested to see how Husson fairs in NAC play. I'm a bit down on them but that might be due to my inexpertise more than anything. Right now, three SF-like players are producing most of the points for Husson. I don't have experience using a likeup like that but I don't believe it to be ideal. So I'm a bit down on Husson. That said, in a different conference, and especially different division, I wouldn't fee the same way. But I Husson is the one team that I think is quite good and will be in the NT that I also think is going to lose a disproportionate number of games in NAC play. (I figured I'd go ahead and say that since it is how I felt even before Husson beat Thomas. Husson looks to be better than this writeup suggests.)
-- Timothy Hawks has the best A/TO ratio in the NAC for players with significant minutes at 3.75. Wonder if that's because it's easy to rack up times giving the ball to Foster.
-- Foster is the leading scorer, but perhaps not as much as you might think. Per 40, Foster is at 29.7 points and Clary is at 20.1. A good sized gap but I was expecting more.
-- Foster gets to the free throw line most often, but again not as much as you might think. Foster gets 9.2 charities per 40 but Hawks is right behind him at 8 and Clary gets 7.5.
-- Robert Clary is probably the most efficient scorer in the NAC. That's a bit debatable but of players that play at least 45% of the team minutes and score at least 15 points per 40 minutes, Clary has the best eFG% at 62.9 and TS% at 67.8. Clary plays 54% of the team minutes and averages 20 per 40 but I did want to lower each threshold a bit to make sure I wasn't cherry picking the result.
Prediction: 7-9, 5th place NAC South
Most Talented Player: David Tomlinson, 27.6 min, 53% FG, 13.9 pt, 6.4 reb, 1.1 stl, 1.3 blk
Player being used too much: Derek Wenzel (1st in usage, 9th in talent)
Player being used too little: Thomas Betts (10th in usage, 3rd in talent)
Future Star: Rickey Hadley, SO SG (+30)
My formula doesn't particular care for Elms but I like what I see. I know my formula is punishing Elms for a lack of speed but I'm not sure it is warranted. Elms four guards are plenty fast and while I do think the SF spot has some trouble with lack of speed, I don't see the slowness in a post being a problem. Speed is a nice luxury to have in the post but it isn't essential. With Elms having 7 PF/C players on the roster, I think my formula unfair penalizes them for a problem that wouldn't show up if there was an extra guard or two on the roster. That said, I do think Elms has a ceiling and it falls below NAC North champion. This is a good roster, not a great one and there are problems on the roster, especially with regards to outside shooting. But Elms has a few things that I really like: the athleticism is quite good and that will make them tough to defend inside, the athleticism complements the defense and it is going to be difficult to score on them, and finally the team has a number of good rebounders.
The other reason why I'm bucking my formula a bit is Derek Wenzel. My formula hates him but he's not a bad player. I do wish he was a bit more athletic and it really would help if he could shoot the ball a bit more but I don't agree with my formula's assessment of him. On the court he's backing it up with the 3rd best eFG% and TS% on the team while averaging 6 assists per 40.
A final thing to note about Elms is that I think Tyber has done a really nice job setting up distribution. This is not a good scoring team. So Elms has taken the four players that can score and is giving them the ball and telling everybody else to deal with it. The Big 4 (Tomlinson, Yon, Wilmore, Wenzel) took 331 of the teams 433 shots in non-conference play. And those four all are good shooters and average a 53.2 eFG% and 58.3 TS%. So while the other 7 are terrible at scoring, Tyber doesn't ask them to do it.
-- Elms is really good at defense but can't block shots. Tomlinson is best at 1.9 per 40 and that's not a good rate. With a team block rating of 31, I'm guessing Tyber isn't surprised.
-- Elms doesn't foul. Wilmore just barely exceeds 4 fouls per 40 minutes but everybody else is below that mark.
-- I complemented Elms on having a number of good rebounders but they don't have any great ones. Elms is the only team in the NAC that does not have a single player averaging 10 rebounds per 40 minutes. But .... Elms has five players averaging 8.5 boards or greater and has another two pulling down 6.5 rebounds.
Prediction: 8-8, 4th place NAC North
Johnson State: 9-1
Most Talented Player: Charles Roybal, 22.8 min, 43% FG, 46% FG3, 9.5 pt, 6.5 reb, 1.1 stl
Player being used too much: William Young (1st in usage, 7th in talent)
Player being used too little: Thomas Davis (7th in usage, 2nd in talent)
Future Star: Charles Roybal, SR(!) SF (+31)
Somebody has to finish last in the North. And Johnson State definitely seems like it will be that team. Bieberfever has put together an interesting roster, at least in my eyes. I can't exactly put a finger on it but I just don't like it as much as I think I should. The only piece that looks bad is maybe Adam Wallace and to be honest he looks like he's an ok small forward and even if he isn't, I have a hard time being critical of him since he was on my short list for recruiting. But for me, the team is less than the sum of the individual parts. The team passing helps to explain that but the rest of it is just a gut feeling. Maybe I'll be proven wrong. Thus far in conference play I have been but I'm still writing this as I saw things heading into conference play.
Charles Roybal looks like one heck of a JUCO recruit and I'd be curious to know how good he could be. He's a high 650+ player that is still developing quite fast. He had developed 31 points on the season after non-conference play and he's now at +42. Looks like if he would max out he could rival Anthony Foster. At the time of non-conference play ending, Roybal was the 16th best overall player in talent by my formula. I'm guessing by season's end he'll be top 10 and maybe higher than that. Right now Roybal isn't doing that much on the court to fill a stat sheet and his shooting efficiency suggests he shouldn't be doing much more. But I think like most good small forwards, he's doing an awful lot to help the team win that doesn't show up as a statistic.
Unlike Roybal, Ryan Ernst is filling up the stat sheet and then some. Ernst looks to be the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd option for Johnson State taking twice as many shots as any other player and averaging 38.6 points per 40 minutes. There's nothing wrong with him hogging the ball, his eFG% of 62.4 and TS% of 62.6 is essentially the best on the team. (Thomas Davis is better but only took 34 shots in non-conference play.) Earnst is also leading the team in steals on the defensive side. Looks like Johnson State will go as far as Ernst will take them.
Fun Facts that don't involve Ryan Earnst
-- JSU has some rebounders: Roybal (11.4 per 40), Thompson (11.5), Worthington (13.1), Davis (14.5), and Cooper (15.6)
-- JSU has the player in the NAC that scores the least per 40 minutes: James Worthington with 2.7 points
-- JSU has the player in the NAC that scores the 2nd least per 40 minutes: Henry Cooper with 2.8 points
-- JSU's other two post players (Davis and Thompson) each average 15 points per 40. Depending on who is on the court at any given time, you might really have to defend the post or you could completely ignore it. Makes gameplanning with such blunt tools a bit rough.
Prediction: 6-10, 6th place NAC North
Most Talented Player: Curtis Pendleton, 24.7 min, 43% FG, 39% FG3, 14.7 pt, 2.6 reb, 3.0 ast, 1.3 stl
Player being used too much: Adam Bess (2nd in usage, 4th in talent)
Player being used too little: Werner Heredia (10th in usage, 9th in talent)
Future Star: Paul Jarnigan, SO SF (+23)
Dac's still rebuilding and I'm blown away with the that non-conference mark. Unfortunately, he noted that getting to 14 wins might be a bit tough and he's likely correct in that assessment. The thing that UMPI has going for it is that it is so young that I suspect it will get better at a faster rate than the other teams in the NAC. Will that make a difference? I have doubts. I think to make the tourney, UMPI probably has to go 6-0 against the teams at the bottom of this list (Salem State, MMA, UMF). If not, a win against Johnson State would go a long way. I'm not sure UMPI is winning games against the top 7 and essentially needs to run the table if it can't. I'm hoping there is a couple of wins there for UMPI to steal but the history of teams like this in recent NAC play hasn't been pretty. My formula really likes what Dac is doing in terms of depth charts; it hates UMPI's overall skill but likes who is actually playing a lot more.
This might be implied by the last point but UMPI is riding its horses more than any other team, in fact Becker is the only one that comes all that close. Desimone is #4 in the NAC in available minutes played, Bess is #5, Shurtz is #17 and, and Pendleton is #23. It also shows up in Heredia "being used too little" -- it was a real stretch to list him and I actually thought about just leaving it blank.
While the playing time is not well distributed up and down the lineup, the statline mostly is once it is normalized. Scoring is balanced among four players that average between 18-24 points per 40 minutes, rebounding is balanced between four that average between 9-12 boards. That sounds good but I'm pretty sure it isn't. Things are balanced because UMPI doesn't have a stud or two to lean on heavily. Curtis Pendleton's perimeter shooting is still developing as a JUCO recruit so he might be able to turn into that player by season's end but otherwise it looks like UMPI might be a year away. Keith Shurtz does have a low post rating of 88 but with the weak athleticism and speed rating, Dac seems reluctant to let him shoot and his stats suggest that is the correct decision.
UMPI has a pretty bad team rebounding rating but it doesn't seem to have really impacted them much thus far. Whether that's a reflection that good athleticism and a good man defense can lead to good rebounding or the fact that UMPI played a lot of Sim AI will likely be determined pretty quick in NAC play. If UMPI can be respectable on the boards, I like their chances of getting the 14 wins necessary for a NT bid.
-- John Desimone is a bit selfish on the offensive end. Desimone has taken the most shots (120) and almost has twice as many assists (56) as the next best on UMPI.
-- I wanted Joseph Beach so I can make fun of the fact that he appears to a wuss that avoids contact. 2 FTA in 89 minutes is not going to cut it for a PF.
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd place NAC South
Salem State: 8-2
Most Talented Player: Lawrence Godfrey, 17.2 min, 53% FG, 10.7 pt, 3.2 reb
Player being used too much: Donald Sydnor (1st in usage, 9th in talent)
Player being used too little: Lawrence Godfrey (6th in usage, 1st in talent)
Future Star: Kenneth Dunbar, JR SF (+23)
This is where it gets messy. If UMPI gets the wins to make the NT, it needs to be Salem State and MMA. If Salem State is going to make the NT, it needs to win against UMPI and MMA. This is going to be a situation where it is best of one of these teams clearly stands out above the others. Based on RPI, UMPI is the team best equipped. However, I'm not sure in the North Atlantic it really matters. If Salem State gets 14 wins, the RPI is going to be good enough to dance in the NT. I do think it is going to be even more difficult for Salem State to get to 14 then UMPI. If Jodester can pull it off, it will be one heck of a coaching job.
I don't like Salem State's chances at getting 14 but that might be more my opinion than fact. The team is really interesting in that there is a lot of skill up and down the roster but almost every player also has at least one or two flaws that are going to be difficult to hide. This stands out most with subpar athleticism and defense and I think teams are going to be able to score on Salem State with relative ease. Jodester can counter with two players that are 80+ from the perimeter and two players that are (almost) 80+ in the low post. In the end, I think Salem State is going to come on on the short end a lot. This is a team that probably doesn't have to sweat making the postseason in a lot of conferences but in the North Atlantic, it is going to need to win at least a handful of games to stay in contention for the PIT and that might not happen.
Right now Salem State is playing a very balanced game. I think it might be wise to start to lean heavy on the better players and hope for the best.
-- John Burmeister is a prime example of what happens with 7 athleticism and 8 defense: he averages 8.7 fouls per 40 minutes.
-- Richard Ince isn't getting much playing time but when he is on the court, he leads the team in rebounds (18.4 per 40) and blocked shots (3.3) by a large margin. His shooting isn't terrific but it seems to be passable.
Prediction: 5-11, 4th place NAC South
Maine Maritime Academy: 10-0
Most Talented Player: Shawn Bogard, 19.3 min, 52% FG, 5.7 pt, 5.8 reb, 1.5 blk
Player being used too much: Steven Moore (8th in usage, 12th in talent)
Player being used too little: David Peacock (12th in usage, 7th in talent)
Future Star: Titus Kappler, SO SF (+24)
Jazzcoq enters conference play in pretty familiar territory. A gaudy record but against a terrible SOS so there are still a number of questions for just how good MMA is. From my vantage point, MMA reminds me of what I think about Johnson State. Some pretty good players but I'm not sure the team is as good as the individual parts. For example, David Peacock is a nifty player with 68 ATH and 37 SPD. Most post players can't match that. But he also has a 18 rebound rating. That's not good regardless, but MMA also lacks the 85+ rebounders on the roster that can help compensate. Steven Moore is a lights out shooter but is a poor passer for a guard. Not a problem, except that passing as a whole is a MMA weakness so I'm not sure he fits as well in the Mariner lineup as he would on a different roster. In a conference as good as the NAC, I think these problems are going to be exposed.
MMA shows up on my list as being the 7th most talented team overall in the NAC but is here at #11 in terms of talent usage. That's because MMA plays everybody and is playing a full 12 man roster. The consequence of that is that no player is averaging even 20 minutes per game. That will help keep players fresh, but ultimately is likely to be a poor strategy if the lesser talented players continue to get burn at the expense of the better ones. I'm hoping this is a bit of a fluke. With MMA beating up on the weaklings in D3 in non-conference play, I'm assuming there was plenty of garbage time to give to the backups.
-- MMA has some scoring machines. On a per minute basis, 5 of the 19 top NAC scorers play for MMA. (Judkins, Moore, Rentas, Saville, Spicer)
-- If MMA is going to score, somebody is probably setting things up. 3 of the top 10 NAC distributors are racking up assists for MMA. (Hawks, Schroder, Judkins)
-- MMA's press defense is eating alive the competition. Schroder picks more pockets than anybody else in the NAC at 5.4 per game and Saville (4.7), Moore (3.9), and Rentas (3.5) aren't too far behind.
Prediction: 5-11 4th place NAC South
Most Talented Player: Elroy Ver, 22.9 min, 52% FG, 9.8 pt, 6.8 reb
Player being used too much: William Critchfield (2nd in usage, 9th in talent)
Player being used too little: Bobby McCasland (10th in usage, 6th in talent)
Future Star: William Critchfield, FR PG (+34)
Somebody has to be last and Coach Floyd draws the short stick. I don't think UMF is winning the South regardless, but I also think UMF is a bit of a test case for my formula. It hates some of Beavers but my formula also is quite likely placing a premium on athleticism and defense. Kevin Pettiford is a pretty good example. My formula thinks he's the worst player on UMF. This despite him being a 85 speed, 87 ball handling guard with pretty good perimeter and passing skills. The formula hates the 16 athleticism and 1 defense. But in his limited minutes, he's doing a barely passable job of scoring, is doing a good job distributing the ball and from the box scores seems to be doing ok on the defensive end -- he's picking up less than 3 fouls per 40 minutes and is also averaging 2.3 steals per 40. He sure looks like a better player than my formula is giving him credit for and if that's the case this last place ranking might be deceiving.
Of course, Pettiford is just the most glaring example of this. There are several others that have less than ideal athleticism and defense. Much like Salem State I do think the NAC offenses are going to take full advantage. On the opposite side of the court, I don't believe UMF is going to be able to match point for point. Anthony Baker is a nifty shooter but the rest of the team has some developing to do. There actually are plenty of options on the inside and to the extent that they can be fed the ball in the paint will determine the number of NAC wins that UMF can achieve. I think UMF could probably benefit from some adjustments to the team distribution, in non-conference play it was an extremely balanced approach that had 9 of the 11 UMF players averaging at least 10 points per 40 minutes but 0 averaging more than 19. Coach Floyd needs to do a better job of getting the ball to his skilled players and giving them the green light to attack.
-- Congratulations Eric Hawkins! With a healthy dose of playing time and a 16 defensive rating, you have fouled more times (34) than any other player in the NAC.
-- UMF's guards get to the free throw line more often than the post players. The guards get to the line 5.8 times per 40 minutes and the post players 5.1. This surprises me in general, but especially because UMF has 4 players with 70+ low post rating.
Prediction: 2-14 6th place NAC South