One of the things I track, albeit usually closer to the start of the season, is statistics loss due to graduation. These are the stats that accumulated during the 2017 season by seniors that obviously will no longer be on the team in 2018. I decided to move this exercise up to December as a service for the coaches that read this blog as I think this does help with scheduling. With Strength of Schedule (SOS) being such a huge component of the RAC rankings and ultimate NCAA selection, it makes sense to have a feel on the possible strength of potential opponents. Now having said that, I have no idea if schedules are already in place for 2018 or if scheduling is still going on. I assume it’s probably a mix. Anyway, I’ve done this exercise in the past as it helps me with predicting as was evident by correctly guessing the order of finish for every West Region team in 2017 (no need to read this post).
This year, I’ll go through the West Region conferences and then finish up with the non-West Region teams that finished in the Top 25 this past season. I will also look back at the statistics loss in 2016 and how that impacted the teams this past year. What I’ve found in the past is that teams that lose 45% of their points tend to struggle the following year, and teams that lose less than 10% of their points typically have stronger years. I’ve also found that assists and digs losses are easier to make up than kills. With that said, there are a bunch of exceptions of teams with big points loss that do well the next year. These are typically due to the player that didn’t get a chance that now shines with a full-time position, a killer freshman class or the treasured DI/DII transfer. So, take all of this with a grain of salt.
I’m starting with the SCAC because when I did my spreadsheet 4 years ago that was the conference I listed first. The SCIAC looks to be next up followed by the Northwest and then the ASC. I’ll slip in Mills and Santa Cruz at some point, too.
Here is the chart showing the teams in the SCAC with their 2017 records and their statistics loss in points, assists and digs. I’ve added Johnson & Wales (Co) as they will enter the conference in 2018.
|Johnson & Wales (CO)||2-26||75.6%||7.4%||49.4%|
|University of Dallas||10-20||5.6%||7.0%||27.9%|
So, the newcomers better be bringing a stud class in 2018 as that is a huge hit for a 2-26 team. Trinity is right at that 45% threshold that worries me. In 2014, Trinity suffered their last huge loss in statistics (61.7% in points) and had a down year in 2015. This loss is more manageable than 2014 and Trinity always does well in recruitment but still a reason for concern. Southwestern is also cause for concern at 40.4%. Their last big loss in statistics was 2015 (55.6% points loss) and they ended the 2016 year in the Final 4. Their secret that year was the emergence of All-American Kate Mitchell. Still two huge points loss in three years will be something to watch out for in 2018. Flipping the table over and we find TLU, which was a surprise team for me this year, with only 2.1% points loss. This might be the year we see them break into the top 3 in the SCAC. Dallas is also looking good but with a 10-20 record in 2017, they will need more help to be successful in the SCAC. And there’s Colorado College with a very manageable 16.8% points loss coming off their 33-2 record. Based on this alone, you can reasonable expect the Tigers to be at the top of the West Region (and maybe the nation) next year. Interestingly, the setters all seem to be staying in place this year in the SCAC. Centenary losses one of their setters but that is about it. As I stated at the top, digs seem to be easier to replace but what I always fear is the loss of the service receive. Based on the above, Colorado College and Southwestern should return with a better service receive in 2018. On the flip side, this may be a concern to the Austin College crew.
Now, let’s take a look at the statistics loss in 2016:
|University of Dallas||13-21||28.9%||10.1%||46.2%|
No Johnson & Wales in this table as they didn’t play in the SCAC in 2017. I mentioned that TLU was one of my surprise teams in 2017 and you can see why. They had a huge 57.7% loss in points only to come back with a slightly better record. Trinity shows a nice example of a team that didn’t lose any significant hitters but did lose their 5-1 setter and the bulk of their digs. They came back in 2017 with the same record. Southwestern basically shows the same thing…hitters matter…setters and defense don’t. (OK, that was a little harsh and fundamentally incorrect but the point remains that setters and defensive specialists are easier to find in DIII than hitters.)
What the statistics don’t show (and here is the grain of salt) is that TLU was a surprise team in 2017 partly due to an incoming freshman class that had 10 players. They hit on a wonderful OH and a middle that accounted for 574 points or over half of the points lost due to graduation. For a team like Schreiner, that looked to build on a 3 win season, they had a coaching change and lost the bulk of their underclassmen leading them to a zero win season.
So, back to my point on scheduling. TLU has the looks of a team that should hit the 20 win barrier in 2018 and shouldn’t be shied away from when scheduling as they will help your SOS. Trinity and Southwestern will always have a name value but they may have some hiccups next season. If I’m a coach of a team that wants to make a name for themselves, I might try to get them on my schedule early in the year.