This will be my last post regarding statistics loss due to senior graduation and I wanted this one to focus outside the West Region. Below you’ll find the Top 25 teams (outside of the West Region) with the percentage of points lost due to graduation as well as assists and digs. My previous posts dealt with the West Region conferences (Mills and Santa Cruz are in the ASC post) and their losses. To rehash a bit what I said in the first post (on the SCAC), in the past I did this exercise at the start of the season but thought it might prove valuable if any coach was looking at scheduling for 2018. My thinking was that the NCAA selection process showed us that Strength of Schedule (SOS) was a more important selection criterion than the other four so let’s take a look and the schools that could be on the upswing and downswing due to graduation losses. Nothing is set in stone with these statistics because frankly a successful season is less about what you lose and more about what you gain. You can lose your entire team but if you get a bunch of awesome freshmen in with a couple of DI/DII transfers you’re more than likely going to be successful. Still, based on this exercise in the past, I worry about teams that lose more than 45% of their points due to graduation. I also have seen teams with less than 10% loss take great strides the next season. Interestingly, a loss of setting (assists) and defense (digs) seems to be more easily made up than hitting.
So that was the rehash of what I said in my first post, but before we dive into the numbers I wanted to quickly review the West Region red flag teams one more time. Again, I was looking at this from a perspective of a coach that has NCAA Tournament aspirations that would want to schedule good teams, avoid bad teams and probably red flag the teams that should start hot in 2018. By this last part I mean I’ve found that teams with small turnover coming off successful seasons will typically start strong as they have less to figure out. You could have a good team but if you are still trying to figure out your lineup and even certain starters then it’s best to avoid these red flag teams until later in the season when your team has had a chance to click. Make sense? (I fear only to me.)
Here are the West Region Red Flag teams:
- Colorado College
- Pacific Lutheran
UT-Dallas is listed because they don’t lose too much and they should be getting a couple of important players back from injury. The rest are listed due to their successful 2017 season and retaining most of their teams. Frankly, when it comes to Colorado College, I have no idea why coaches schedule away matches at their school. There are just so many better ways to get clubbed over the head. And I mean this with all the respect intended to the Tigers…they just don’t lose at Reid Arena. Pacific Lutheran impressed the heck out of me at the Southwestern Regional and if they can replace their setter then they will be scary good again. Pacific took a huge jump up in 2017 and retain the bulk of their team next season. Same story for McMurry and UMHB is like Pacific Lutheran in that they “just” have to replace their setter.
Enough of the West Region and let’s focus on the Top 25 teams. Really, it’s the Top 25 plus the WIAC plus Berry. I added the WIAC out of respect to Ricky Nelson (my leader) and as a homage to a once great conference. The WIAC use to get multiple NCAA at-large bids but today, because of their insistence on playing tough teams and going out-of-region and proving they can beat the elite, are lucky if the NCAA will allow their conference tournament champion to receive a bid. I added Berry because I like them. They are my chosen South Region team. As a side note, my chosen Mid-Atlantic team is Franklin & Marshall and my New York team is Vassar (although you wouldn’t know it for how “mean” I was to them this year due to their selection).
Here is the rather large table detailing the statistics loss for the Top 25 (plus others):
|Johnson & Wales (RI)||35-1||0.8%||0.4%||1.7%|
We’ve got some teams that look to struggle next year but holy cow are there some teams sitting pretty. Let’s start with the Red Flag teams at the bottom of the list in Wash-St. Louis, Oshkosh, Emory, JWU (RI) and Berry. I’m inclined to just give the championship to Emory based on these statistics. They had 21 players on their roster with one just one senior and made the Elite 8 as the 2 seed (remember it was reseeded under the “Emory Rule”). I was impressed with JWU this past year as they actually tried to schedule tougher matches but based on these statistics they should just go all out in 2018. In truth, they are a lock for an Elite 8 bid again, it seems, but even tougher matches during the year might help them get past the first championship match (where they hit 0.096 after leading the nation in hitting percentage). Oshkosh looks to be a favorite with Eau Claire in the WIAC in 2018. It’s a shame only one of them can get a bid. (And the answer is, “Yes, I will milk this WIAC joke for an entire year so get use to it.”) Berry keeps their hitting and should give Emory some competition in the South while Wash-St. Louis seems poised to be a Top 10 team in 2018.
Moving up the table, I would think every team from Adolphus to Calvin should be successful in 2018. The teams in the 30%+ range will most likely be safe, as well, but things can get dicey in this group. Johns Hopkins, for instance, always has a smaller roster so they would worry me a bit.
At the top of the table, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Millikin, Swarthmore and La Crosse struggle. I’m a little more confident in the other 40% teams but Northwestern is losing all everything Lindsey Peterson. Regardless, any team at 40% or above in points loss is a risk to schedule in 2018 as they may have a down year. You might get some AVCA Coaches votes but your SOS could be at risk.
My big take away from the list is avoid those two Emory tournaments that they always seem to schedule at the beginning of the year and that Washington-St. Louis tournament, as well. If you want to play them then try later in the year as they both try to play in a tournament in late October.