User Interview: Combalt

Q&A with noted Hoops Dynasty and SimLeague Baseball user Combalt

We recently contacted Hoops Dynasty and Simleague Baseball veteran and standout Combalt to discuss recruiting, practice times, FREE THROWS, Steve Grogan, Super Blades, Seattle and L'Alp D'Huez.

WIS

Who is combalt?

Combalt

Besides the guy all the chicks dig and the fellas want to be? I am a 46 year-old father of a wonderful ten year old daughter and married to the greatest woman there has ever been. I live in Seattle where I have been for ten years after living in Asia. Seattle is a great place to be and I doubt I will ever leave here. Originally, I am from Boston, which may explain some of the answers to questions below.

WIS

How did you learn about whatifsports.com?

Combalt

I am not sure exactly. It was featured as a "best site of the day" award winner on some site I frequented. I checked it out, was completely blown away and the rest is history.

WIS

What games of ours have you played?

Combalt

I have played full seasons of SimLeague Baseball, Hardball Dynasty and Hoops Dynasty (HD). And I have played exhibitions in everything else - and a lot of those.

WIS

Which is your favorite?

Combalt

Baseball and HD. They are different, but I love them both the same.

WIS

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

Combalt

Beautiful Seattle - there are varied things in the area. With the mountains, lakes and ocean around, there is always something to do. It is an amazing place.

WIS

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

Combalt

Sports allow people to be a part of something larger than themselves. That is important to people and there are not many similar opportunities like that.

WIS

Who are your favorite players of all-time?

Combalt

There may be a theme here - Bobby Orr, Steve Grogan, Yaz and the Big Three of the Celtics. Chief (Robert Parrish) was my favorite of the Big Three. He was the quiet heart and soul of the team's defense. Doug Flutie needs to be on there too. He was a freshman when I was a senior at Boston College (BC).

WIS

What are your favorite teams?

Combalt

I have been a Patriots fan of long-standing. I remember having season tickets with the Pats when they were especially bad, which makes the recent success even more uplifting. I am also a BC Eagles fan. I have a great memory of loading a bunch of guys into a van to travel to watch games at Big East schools like Syracuse or NCAA tournament games in St. Louis.

WIS

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

Combalt

Street hockey. During the days of the Big Bad Boston Bruins we played 365 days a year. We played with Super Blades and tennis balls. We probably did that every day for five straight years. I also ran track and field in high school, but lost interest in that after a while.

WIS

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

Combalt

This is such a hard question because there are really about a billion things that I want to mention. But I guess three of them would be to follow the last pairing for the entire back nine on Sunday at the Masters. Another would be to be in Monte Carlo for the Grand Pix and finally to be on L'Alp D'Huez on a day the Tour de France races on it.

WIS

What is your greatest WIS moment?

Combalt

I have two. One would be winning a DII National Championship with Davis and Elkins in Naismith. Just three seasons previous to that, the team went 2-25. The other would be having a 25-game win streak in a great Simleague with some awesome users. That really stood out.

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?

Combalt

Actually, I am a terrible recruiter so users may want to take what I say and do the opposite. My approach is pretty simple. I just figure out what I need and find the talent to fit those needs. I am finding that patience is very important. My basic strategy was to go hard early, but that is less and less successful, especially as the top levels are filling.

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?

Combalt

This absolutely varies by school. I will usually just keep the system that was in place before me, unless it is a terrible fit. At the DI level, where most players reach their individual plateaus earlier, I like to try combo defenses, but do not quite have those down yet. At the end of the game, I try to do things that normal coaches would do. I make adjustments to increase or decrease my possessions as necessary. To truly gain the most possessions though, it is important to run up-tempo if down four or more points. Any number higher than that will force you to revert back to your normal tempo too early. Keep in mind that OT maintains the same settings as regulation.

WIS

What is your basic strategy for setting your depth chart?

Combalt

It depends on my goals for that season. A deep team is very different from a team with a few good, experienced players. I make the decision early as to whether I am looking for development or a deep run in the tournament this season. I also set my depth chart to honor all promises. That sounds dumb, but a lot of coaches miss that. I tinker a lot as well. Just like in SimLeague Baseball, I like to tinker with my lineups until I find something I like. And I am a big fan of a scoring threat coming off the bench to give me points and create mismatches.

WIS

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

Combalt

15-25 minutes depending on the grades of the players. Usually, I will go for 20 minutes in each set until all of my players are at least C -, then I will go to 15 minutes.

WIS

How do you approach allotting individual practice time?

Combalt

This depends on the offense. If I play motion, I want to steal minutes to improve passing. If I am running fastbreak, I will focus on conditioning. And FREE THROWS, FREE THROWS, FREE THROWS. My teams are often near the top of the nation in Free Throw percentage.

WIS

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

Combalt

William Williams of my Davis and Elkin team was a shooting guard, who I played at Small Forward. He had a 93 perimeter ratings and shot threes all day. I do not know how to make a SimLeague Baseball team without the 200k Ed Romero right now.

WIS

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

Combalt

Yes, I get sitemails from time to time. I don't mind helping anyone out. It is easier to answer specific questions though; it is hard for me to just look at a team and solve all of its issues. In fact, the users who I most respect are those who freely share information and opinions.

WIS

Who are the users you respect the most?

Combalt

The community of users is the coolest thing this site has going for it. Baseball users I respect the most - biglenr, JohnGPF ("Johnny Dots"), schwarze, slimsenior, shaybee, sford, pennquaker, jeffwinston and antonsirius who is good in everything. HD users I respect the most - Jimbo377, kgote, flyers1950, daalter, nellie, tdiddy/tdowdy and vandydave/duke. And there are so many others that I am sure that I have forgot some, so please do not be offended. Is this question designed to get people shot?

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of HD?

Combalt

The community and the competition.

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?

Combalt

The December recruiting change made a huge difference with national recruiting, particularly at the DI level. It used to be that your success in recruiting was dictated by the talent within 100 miles of the school. Now it is just as easy to go out to 300 miles and that allows for more battles and a better spread of talent.

WIS

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

Combalt

WIS is great about reacting to feedback, so they will probably look at this soon, but it seems like it is too easy to get good free throw percentage. I have a team shooting 87% collectively from the line. I would suspect that consistent winners have teams shooting 85%+ and that is not realistic.

WIS

What is your ultimate goal in Hoops Dynasty?

Combalt

I don't know. I guess coaching the BC Eagles to a national championship. I also want to catch Vandydave and Old_resorter in championships. I need a ring for the thumb. I used to think that I wanted an elite school, but now I don't know. Is Duke that much better than Maryland?

WIS

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

Combalt

I would be the 1894 George Hemming ... my own stats don't look so good but if you surround me with the right people I can be incredibly useful!

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