Better find yourself a comfy chair before diving into this User Interview. Hoops Dynasty all-star, coach_billyg, spills all the beans on his secrets to success. In addition to fielding questions from WhatIfSports.com, he tackles a few user-submitted queries as well.
coach_billyg Hoops Dynasty Overall Records
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WIS: Who is coach_billyg?
coach_billyg: I am a 26-year-old computer science graduate of Carnegie Mellon. I do a bunch of things professionally, from data center management to software development, to leading development projects and systems/database projects. Problem solving and system architecture are my true strengths and passions.
Most importantly, I am a soon-to-be father; my wife is scheduled to be induced into labor in mid-July!
WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?
coach_billyg: While talking about our beloved Kentucky Wildcats, about 5 years ago, my cousin starting telling me about this game. He brought me into it, and was my original mentor. He really was a great mentor, he made a few final fours but never won a championship, although I suspect that is mostly due to the relatively small number of seasons in his career.
WIS: What are some of your interests and hobbies?
coach_billyg: Unlike most techy people, I hate technology. A lot of my colleagues love to play with their gadgets and stuff - but I had an iPhone, then another, and finally a third, before I ever downloaded my first app. I just hate technology, it sucks early on and by the time its mature, something else makes it obsolete. My greatest desire is to leave these retched computers behind, and move into the forest :)
I am a huge fan of card games, poker is okay (only in person, you lose so much online), but really my passion is spades, and I like bridge quite a bit as well. Any card game with a lot of strategy is good to me - pinochle, euchre, and 500 are also games I enjoy a lot. I am also a huge fan of bourbon, particularly Maker's Mark but also many others, although I don't drink that often. I would love to one day own a stake in a bourbon distillery.
WIS: Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?
coach_billyg: Tough question. I'd have to include Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, as they are two of my favorite fathers of the country, who I really admire. I think it would be great for our last couple presidents to be there too, as they could probably use the reminder ;) Anyway, I'd also include Tesla, the inventor of the AC motor, the radio, and lots of other great stuff. He claimed to have plans for a death ray limited only by the curvature of the earth, but I am pretty certain nobody has anything in writing - I'd be very interested to hear how that might work. Keep in mind this guy used wireless power to power a field of 100 light bulbs, from a distance of 25 miles, over 100 years ago!
I hate to say it because the last coach interviewed did as well, but I'd have to include John Calipari. I think he is one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history. I don't think he's a spectacular in-game coach, X's and O's-wise, nor with use of timeouts and all that. However, I've never seen anybody, in any profession, who was as capable of taking so many heads that could barely fit in the room by themselves, and making them all fit so nicely. The way he gets those soon-to-be multi-millionaires to have a team-first mentality, a sincere work ethic, and to have such appreciation for their fan base and their situation, is truly impressive. Doesn't matter what team you root for, I don't think anyone can deny how tough that really must be.
Finally, I'd include Warren Buffet. I find the market highly interesting, and would love to get into trading. I've made just one trade, made a purchase for 15K, sold for 33K two years later, so I am off to a good start. But there is so much to know and there are few who understand it as well as Buffet.
WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?
coach_billyg: Yes, soccer was the only sport I played on a "real team," but would often play football or rugby with friends recreationally.
WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?
coach_billyg: I am not a huge fan of watching soccer, although I really enjoy the world cup. I have to give it up for Miroslav Klose. He can hardly start on a club team, but is one of the world cup's leading all time scorers. Got to admire a guy who plays with that passion when he plays for his country, but not when he plays for the dollar (or Deutschmark, I suppose :). Anyway, my favorite players are mostly in basketball, and it's all Kentucky - I couldn't care less about the pros. Some of my favorites were the greats of my childhood, guys like Tayshaun Prince, Tony Delk, and of course, Jamal Mashburn. My other favorites include some of the less trumpeted but very big-hearted guys like Chuck Hayes, Josh Harrellson, and Patrick Patterson (well, he was pretty trumpeted, but flew semi under the radar around guys like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins).
WIS: Do you have any sports-related items on your bucket list that you have not yet done?
coach_billyg: This NCAA tournament, I was lucky enough to be able to attend all six of the Kentucky games, and was able to find scalpers with lower level tickets at reasonable prices for each contest. My cousin (one of two best men in my wedding) was able to attend all six games with me, even though he wasn't a huge UK fan (that has changed), so it was a blast. And finally another cousin (the mentor of mine in this game, who was the other best man in my wedding), was able to attend the Final Four and championship down in New Orleans, so it was basically the greatest trip ever. We did buy one set of fake tickets in Catlanta (Atlanta), buyer beware, there are massive fake ticket rings out there, but that was the only bump in the road. So that pretty much satisfied everything I hoped to see in my lifetime, on the sports front.
WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?
coach_billyg: Tough to say, there have been many. I guess I'll go with my first D1 title, at Colorado in Tark. I started D1 just a half year earlier, at Steven F. Austin, and made four straight first rounds (couple borderline at-larges, and two clutch CT titles with 100ish RPI). When I took over Colorado for my fifth season, they needed a lot of work, and I really hoped to turn them around in two seasons, and finally win my first D1 NT game. So, season one came and went, a mess (as expected). The second season I thought I'd make the NT, but didn't even make the PIT - I couldn't believe how talented teams were in that day and age. In the third season, I would have hoped for a deeper run, but with the bad season before, I was just hoping to get my first NT game victory in D1. That season, I managed like a 30-2 record or something, and the second No. 1 seed. After an easy first game, I reached my goal. I looked at the 8-seed, Notre Dame, and went WOW - I am totally screwed. That team is way more talented than mine. You know, when you just look player to player down a team page in about 15 seconds, and make a snap read on overall talent - not taking into account if they have experience in the right places or any of that stuff. I felt that I maybe had two of the top 10 players and arguably none of the top five. But we won anyway.
Every team after that point was even MORE talented than Notre Dame, and every time, I won somehow. Eventually we wound up with the national title, only my third total title, and I was pretty stunned. My team was, at a glance, borderline top 25 and very possibly more like borderline top 40. But they were well crafted, and while lacking in high PER elite guards, I had great speed and ball handling and ran a motion offense, and was able to get a very efficient offense going without any "superstars." All my seniors and a junior too were inherited, four of my top six it was - I didn't do a great job recruiting, and only had one recruit you could call very good. What I inherited was basically what the previous coach was consistently failing to make the NT with. So I had nothing resembling a championship team, no matter how you sliced it. None of my other titles have been a shocker, most I was No. 1, and a couple I was top five. But that one just blew me away, the talent against me was so superior game after game, it was just really a special couple of days. From there I really started to wonder - what is mightier - talent or aligning it properly? I had, up to that point, assumed talent was king over everything, as is the general forum consensus. But over the next year, and over the 13 I think it was titles I won that year, I saw time and time again, team planning and synergies beat out raw talent consistently.
WIS: During a 13-year stretch at Division II SIU, Edwardsville in the Tarkanian world, you won seven national championships, lost the title game once, reached the Elite 8 three times and the Final Four twice. What do you credit to your success during that run?
coach_billyg: I credit it to the intensity with which I studied the game. I was truly a student of the game, I listened to advise of every coach, the greatest in the game, as well as the most despised (truly, I acted on a tip from the two least-respected coaches in all of the HD forums, about pulldowns, and it gave me many months of pulldowns when almost nobody else was doing it). One of the biggest mistakes coaches make is listening too much to any one opinion, and listening too little to all the others. I took them all in, took none for granted, and verified everything I could with my own experiences and experiments. Nothing was too small to merit consideration.
Truly, I put an incredible amount of time into optimizing everything. I even worked until I felt I had the perfect practice planning strategy, the perfect scheduling strategy. I spend 20-30 minutes A GAME game planning for the tougher half of my games, on two of my teams, for over a year. At first, I wanted to game plan, to optimize my team. Later, I could do it quicker, but I also would spend the time analyzing the whole game - making sure I understood exactly what was going to happen and why. Very rarely was I surprised by an outcome. If any coach is ambitious enough, I recommend you do the same - try to predict who will win the game, what the percent chance of winning is and why, and then break it down more - who will win the rebounding war? Steals/turnovers? Fouls? While in any one game, anything can happen - when you watch it over a long string of games, you see clear patterns, and will learn the truth behind your assumptions on these matters. I would bet I could predict within a few percent the chance of winning almost every game I played (helps they were almost all over 90 percent, so don't read too much into that, but even in a 70 percent game, I felt I could peg it right at 70 percent, plus or minus 3 percent). And as I got better and better at predicting what would happen, I was able to continuously refine my "vision" of what the ideal team looked like.
Every coach should have a "vision" of what the optimal team looks like, and should aspire to build that team. That is what I did - not with just one team/account, but with two. I had three to four teams but never put anywhere near the time into the others - you simply can't – it's critical to really focus on one to two teams playing the same system, to truly master that system. So, over time, I'd build a team, and would go hmmm, that's pretty close to what I see in my vision. And then I'd play them - trying to find out what was working, what didn't work as much as I'd hoped, what really matters and what you can get by without - and a new, better, more refined vision would emerge. For example, I used to be all about big man passing, because in my head, in a triangle offense with good shooters, it should really help. But it doesn't, so I instead focused on more rebounding or whatever else, in my bigs.
What people need to recognize, if you want to pull off championship runs in the conversation of "best ever," is that no detail is too small. You have to be able to look at your team, and make highly accurate judgments on things like, for your PG, how many points of ATH would you trade one point of speed for? One point? 1.5? 1.6? .6? I mean you can probably get within a tenth or so, you will never get 100 percent there, but you should always strive to get closer, that's how you get an ever-increasing understanding of the engine and how the ratings play out. How can you recruit optimally if you don't know if 80 ATH/90 SPD is better than 90 ATH/85 SPD? Sure, you have great coaches EVERYWHERE saying there are a ton of ways to win, and there are. Many say that you can win without doing X, or Y, and that is true. But it hurts your chances. Every coach who does not spend 20 minutes a game, game planning through the NT, is giving something up - at least in my opinion. But that doesn't mean every coach who wins game plans for 20 minutes. Similarly, every coach who ignores practice plans is giving something up, even though it's not as important in the potential era (although the importance is a lot higher now than it was earlier in potential) - but people win even though they largely ignore practice planning. The more you can take on, the better your teams will be.
Sure, you can win titles without doing many of these things, but dollars to donuts, you are winning as the typical, best in the country, 12 percent to win a title type of team. Or fifth best, five percent chance to win type of team. Not as a truly great, 25 or 50 or even 80 percent chance to win a title type of team. To get there, no detail is too small. Going from 90 to 91 percent chance to beat a top opponent is huge, when you play a series of six games to win a title. That has to be the mindset, for the serious coach. So, you need to strive to be a fantastic recruiter, a fantastic team planner (building synergy between players, and making your teams age gracefully, and all that), a fantastic game planner, scheduler, and practice planner. Surely, you can win championship here or there without doing all of those things. But if you want to the best coach in HD, you should strive to master them all, and that begins with understanding, which begins with asking questions.
So, experiment, analyze, experiment, analyze. That is the key to success. It will hurt you today but it will help you tomorrow. I took many lumps, it certainly delayed my first championship at SIUE, but in the long run, I won many more than I would have. NEVER back away from something because you aren't sure what to do. If you don't want to battle because you aren't sure what the right tool is at that distance, it's now far more important than the outcome, that you DO battle and try to learn from it. Don't want to use slowdown because you don't know how it works? All the more important you play your next couple seasons with a lot of slowdown, and other tempos, so you can compare, and learn about it. Leave no stone unturned. And never write something off as unproductive just because some coach, or even the admin of the game, says there is nothing there. It's simple - question everything, and you will find many answers. So, to answer the original question - the reason I was so successful in that period is merely because I questioned everything, and took the time to find the answers.
WIS: Since that time, you've gone 23 seasons at SIU, Edwardsville with many deep runs but no national championships. What do you think has been the cause of the drought?
coach_billyg: Well, after that one team that led to three in a row, the one and only flawless team I've had, graduated - I held two runs (five titles in nine years in a developed and competitive D1 world, and five titles in seven years in D2), each of which was about as good as I could ever hope for. And, I'd finally built the perfect team, the team that won three in a row was the most elegant team I have ever seen - truly, before they won their first, I thought they'd win all three, they had an incredible lead on No. 1 that season with just three seniors. The nine returning were incredible too, would easily be No. 1 by a mile. And the six left after THOSE three graduated, well, it was a perfect starting five and a backup SG of incredible proportions (was second leading scorer in school history and leading or second leading scorer for either two or three titles). So anyway, I had accomplished basically everything I could think of, and just didn't have much gas left in me. And really it was having what I considered the perfect team that broke my work ethic. I had nothing else to build for on that front, the process of always refining my vision of the team, thinking ahead four years and all that, it reached its end.
Well, what happened, of course, is that I started letting the details get away from me. Everything was done with less rigor and lower standards. Still, for a long while, I had D1 and D2 teams that were among the best in the world - and I did win a couple D1 titles during that 23-season drought - but still, I never, not once, had another of those truly elite, 50 percent to win a NT type teams. I might have had the players, but never put in the time to optimize them. There are only a handful of coaches who have had a team that was 50 percent to win the NT, and I had I believe nine of them, in a little over a year. I bet a friend a few times at even odds, a hundred dollars, that I'd win the NT - three times - and I never lost. I know most coaches believe it's not possible to get above 15 or 25 percent to win the NT, but it is - it just is the case that it almost never happens. Keep in mind that once you have the best team in the country, and are say 60 percent to beat No. 2 - it may only take six points a game improvement to push that to 90 percent. If you can beat the second best team in the country 90 percent or more of the time, and I definitely have had teams that could, you are probably more like 75 percent to win a NT, because you are more like 98-99 percent to beat the teams you are likely to play early in the NT, and maybe 95 percent against a couple of them, or whatever. Six points a game is a lot, but if you truly optimize your scheduling, your practice planning, the synergy between your players (the most important factor in the whole game), you get a perfect team setup through game planning, and can execute your game plan, it's not unreasonable to get those six points. And maybe with four of them, you are already at 50 percent to win the NT. It definitely can happen.
So, when you start dropped a point here, tenth of a point a game there, it really adds up, and works against you - like it worked against me then, and works against me today.
Today, even if I went back to 20 minutes a game game planning, I wouldn't have teams like those of old, there no way. At least not for a while. A lot has changed - so many vets make the mistake of not re-evaluating things when the game changes, and they stick to old principles that need to change - that is IMO what causes many to get frustrated and quit when they no longer can hit the same level of success. Especially with the new engine, I would need to spend at least a few months, really examining my team, other top teams, and figure out what exactly makes teams tick, and I suspect it could easily take as much as a solid two four-season cycles.
WIS: SIU, Edwardsville is part of the Great Lakes Valley (GLV) Conference, where there are no coaching vacancies. Have you found that the challenging conference slate makes it easier or more difficult to achieve postseason success? Do you schedule an easier nonconference slate to compensate for the rigors of the GLV?
coach_billyg: A challenging conference can make it harder to make the NT, but easier to win it. If you are game planning in depth, you have to play the best to really get a good measure of your team. So many teams walk into the NT without being tested, top 10 teams I'm talking, and then when they play a superior team, they use the same strategy, which often reduces their potential chance of winning dramatically.
I am somewhat torn on scheduling in a tough conference. We are trying an experiment now, people are trying to schedule softer and see how it treats us. On the whole, well. I think if you are in a conference where you will play top five/top 10 teams, you can optimize your NT winning chance by playing 10 of the teams you expect to have the best record, within the set of teams you are 90-95 percent plus to beat. That will optimize your SOS and RPI and should give you a great seed. However, if you won't be playing top 10 teams and you think you have a chance at a NT title - then you should be playing a few top 10 teams to close out non-conference play, when you've already had time to analyze your team and make your first set of tweaks. You really need to take advantage of those games against top 10 teams to make it worth playing them, though. If you are just going to auto pilot through, don't waste your time, it's not worth the RPI hit. But if you are going to analyze the hell out of those games and try to learn how to play your team against the best competition, it's invaluable.
WIS: Why have you chosen to stay at the Division II level in the Tarkanian world?
coach_billyg: Well, I have other accounts. I have had one to two teams in D1 Tark for a long time. I moved up from my SIUE team in the GLV in D2 Tark like five seasons in, and took it over with a lower account. So it's not like I haven't played D1.
However, I stayed there for two reasons. One, I love the conference, There has long been a fantastic group of coaches, and the GLV is one of only two conference IMO that has a claim to the "greatest conference dynasty in HD history." For 40 seasons or so, they have been the best D2 conference in all of HD. Although a couple great conferences have challenged us at different smaller intervals, nobody can come close in the long haul (at least according to my objective conference dynasty lists that I've published). Even after I wound down a lot from playing HD, I was for a long time, all over the forums, sitemailing coaches, and I really switched my focus from building the best team, to building the best conference. And although I've cut back now, the conference was really in danger at the time, and is as strong as ever now.
The second reason is because I really like D2. Team planning is my favorite part of the game. I would watch, as an up and coming coach, so many much more talented teams, who would not really go anywhere for their talent level, because they had crappy synergy. You might see the most talented team in the land, but they had three senior bigs and two junior bigs, but only one senior guard and one junior guard. Or they'd have two senior small forwards, both playing the three. Or you'd see a team with four bigs who could rebound but not score, or who were scorers first and rebounders/defenders second. Or someone who had four great guards but no true point guard, or three true point guards. You can get SO MUCH more out of great talent if you array it properly. That is truly the area in which I was greatest, in my heyday. It's so important that when I'd look at a lot of really talented teams, I felt like if you had the same talent level, but with the right synergies and class structures and all that, the properly aligned but equally talented team would win 80-90 percent of the time. Truthfully, many of my championship teams that were 50 percent or higher, they weren't that much more talented than No. 2 and No. 3. But, they were just constructed better, that it didn't really matter, we could smoke those close to as talented teams anyway. Instead of a 75 percent favorite off talent (which is really not a lot, you don't have to be much better), we'd be 90 percent, or 95 percent, just off of the combination of team planning, and getting the right team setup to take advantage of those synergies. Truly, setting your team up, and team planning, go hand in hand - you can't effectively do one without the other, and you have to work at both to really get great at either.
Anyway, in D2, with much less talent, team planning is a bigger factor. In D1, we've often seen so many teams with 90s in just about everything, and there is much less to do team planning wise there - although it's still VERY important. I love D1 recruiting, it's a blast, I love the competition and battles. But outside of that, I prefer D2 in every way. I much prefer a team of flawed, but properly flawed players, over a team of nearly flawless players.
WIS: What is your strategy for recruiting? Do you utilize redshirts?
coach_billyg: I have probably been too wordy already, so I'll try to keep this one short. I once sent a five page summary on recruiting strategy to everyone who came to the GLV conference, so really, it's not a simple answer, and D1 and D2 are much different.
However, one thing that is true for any division, is that it's critical to always begin recruiting before it starts - look at your team, think about what you need this year, next year, the year after, and the year after that. You want to recruit a set of players that will be complementary to your seniors/juniors as sophs, complementary to your seniors as juniors, and who will be a great foundation as seniors. Without looking ahead, you cannot possibly recruit at the highest level. So many people recruit for talent - a fatal flaw - you recruit for what you need. The point guard you need is always better than the big man you don't, even if that big man is objectively five to 10 percent more talented. Always go into recruiting with a VERY clear mind about what you need. Be open minded though - there are many ways to win - you have to be somewhat flexible, and take truly stellar players when you can. But typically, after maybe one to two stellar players who often you can't get (especially in D2, when they end up going to Big 6 D1 schools), there are usually a bunch of guys roughly equally good. Know what role you need to fill, and the man who fills that role will serve you better than any others.
Also, it is highly important to master the mechanics of recruiting. Early in the potential era, I took the time to compile lists of all the high/high and low/high messages. It was me who originally published them in the forums, even today the link dac posts came from my work. It was me who originally published to the forums, my findings that there were NOT three levels of high, medium, and low - as admin had explained. And those things helped me tremendously, now everyone knows, but I had an advantage from it for a long time. Do you use evals to find if someone is high/high or low/high? Do you know the ranges of improvement that implies? Do you know the ratio of home visits to campus visits, and which tool is optimal at each distance? Do you know the meaning of every scholarship message? Do you know the value of prestige in D1, D2, and D3? Do you know exactly how promises work, and how they impact recruiting? If not, you have work to do. Fight battles and trade notes with other coaches. Keep notes and documents and build your mastery of these things. I know there are a lot of casual coaches who have no interest in these things, and that's fine. But even the casual coach should try to discover the HV:CV ratio and value of prestige, although they may not keep notes of all their battles and all that. However, I am really trying to give advice here for the coaches who want to be the best in HD. If that is you, then you really should know every one of these things I've posted and more, in great detail.
WIS: What is your strategy for game planning?
coach_billyg: Again, I used to send a several page document giving an overview on this to every coach who came to the GLV. So I'll try to just make a couple points.
For each game plan, there are two kinds. The ones I care about, and the ones I don't. If you are going to quickly game plan, in about one minute, you can assess the scoring of the other team - do they shoot a lot of threes? And what percentage of their scoring comes from guards, instead of their bigs? And also you should glance to see if those guards are really heavy on low post. At that point, you can set your +/- setting. The more threes, the more the +/-, keeping in mind your own team needs (poor rebounding needs to go minus more, a short big rotation especially in press should go plus more, etc). A quick examination of the overall talent of the other team can tell you if you should use slowdown or normal tempo. Or just always use normal tempo. That is a better strategy than many coaches use for tempo. Uptempo is a dangerous game, never play uptempo against a great defense. But anyway, you should always try to spend those two minutes to set your tempo and +/-, and even skim down and adjust your if winning/losing tempo and +/-, if you can. This can all be done VERY quickly.
However, when you want to deeply game plan, there is no question in my mind where you start. Analyze the other team. I often spend 15 minutes just looking at the other team before I set anything. You should look at their scoring, understand their team, their strengths, their weaknesses. Obviously you need to know their offense and defense right away. You also need to predict the tempo and +/- they will use on you. Many coaches don't change these things, and make it very easy. But many do, especially in the NT. I think most coaches in this game are smart enough to very accurately predict the tempo and +/- coming at them, if only they would spend 10 minutes trying to predict it, you know, 50 or 100 times.
You also need to examine their depth chart, and their scoring for distro. Effectively, you need to study them enough to know their strengths and weaknesses. How are they going to beat you? Where do they have advantages over you, and can you mitigate them? What are your strengths over them, and how can you maximize them? Sometimes, you find nothing significant to change. Otherwise, you go ohhh, look, a man-to-man defense team, great on defense, except at the one, where both starter and backup suck on defense. So, I'll swap my PG and SG, so my 20 PPG SG can match up against a poor defender, instead of a stellar one. That can be a few points on the game swing, just a single change. Also, in NT games, it's often really good to spend the 20-30 minutes studying their team, set your team up, let it soak, and come back a few hours later to review and make any last tweaks. Are they going to sag, with poor perimeter defense, such that you should change players' three point settings, and up guard distro? Are they going to run up-tempo, a team who you outmatch, making it such that fouling is your main vulnerability, and thus you play a counterintuitive +2 instead of the -2 you planned? Never underestimate the power of your subconscious - it is 10 to 100 times smarter than you will ever be. At least, that is true for me. Your mind makes connections in the background that are truly profound. Take the time to study your opponent, let your brain make connections, and then review a few hours later. Especially when you get into the practice, it will help you a lot.
Finally, a world of caution. Don't go overboard. I can say with great confidence, I probably make more adjustments in the NT, especially to my lineup, than any of the other top five to 10 coaches in HD history. I've watched most of them and they rarely change stuff around in a big way, that late in the season – it's a big risk and generally inadvisable. However, most games, given that I already have an optimal base setup, I make very small tweaks, if any, and often touch nothing but my +/- setting. But still, maybe one game on my deep run, I might find something profound to change, and that could save the game and the entire run. It's well worth it. But don't go crazy with game planning. It's far easier to hurt yourself than to help yourself, through intense game planning - but it's worth the hit now, to get better, and be more successful later - like I was saying earlier. But anyway, don't be adding five to your distro of players this game, subtracting five the next, and making major changes like that regularly. Keep in mind distro is already reactive to the other team and who is defending you. You really need to be able to balance the importance of your base team setup - which should have a lot of important points to it, like your best BH/pass player at PG has value - against game specific changes. Just because your third-highest distro guy plays a bad defender, doesn't mean you bump him to first. I see so many coaches overreact and you can shoot yourself in the foot by a margin of five points about 100 times easier than you can do the opposite. It's still well worth it to try, but be moderate in your changes.
WIS: Do you have any favorite players from any of your HD teams?
coach_billyg: Yes, quite a few. Calvin Flannigan is probably my second most favorite player of all time, and he never started. He was the player who was the sixth man on my SIUE teams, during their three-peat. He was the leading scorer on the team the second and third of those titles, I believe, and I think he was like third in his sophomore year (he was redshirted). He had over 90 SPD and PER, just wasn't a great defender or passer, so I didn't want him starting. Back in those days, 90 SPD/PER meant more in D2 than it does today.
I also had a guard who played small forward. I think his name was Thurman Page. He is probably my favorite player of all time, and actually was on the same team as Flannigan - he was the leader of the team for the first two of those three consecutive titles. He was nothing special to some other coaches - but he had 100 speed (which was huge in the press back then), and like 80 PER, 75 BH/passing, which made him a great SG, but not the best I'd had. However, he also had a stunning 50 rebounding. High rebounding guards are my favorite type of players in the game, and he's the best I ever had in D2. Back then, that 100 SPD 80 PER made him a great, but not prolific, scorer for D2. Still, he was super-efficient, and the 50 rebounding allowed him to be an asset in that regard, and finally the 100 speed made him insane from a pressing standpoint. It was not so much the player himself that was incredible - if you took five coaches and showed them my best players from that era, maybe zero of them would pick Page as my best player. But, he was so important from a team planning/synergy standpoint, I just loved him.
WIS: How much time do you spend on your Hoops Dynasty teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?
coach_billyg: Well, it varies wildly. At my peak, I would often spend 30 minutes to an hour a day, and often spent an hour or two a day answering questions on the forums and in sitemail, at that time. Later, I would spend maybe an hour a season on my team, plus a few hours recruiting.
I think to be competitive, you really need to spend a good five to 15 hours in recruiting, because it's so important. Then, you should spend an hour or two setting your team up upfront. After that, if you mostly just spend the two minutes a game game planning, and then like three times during the season - towards the end of non-conference play, halfway through conference play, and before the post season - spend an hour looking back, reflecting, and tweaking your setup - that is probably enough. Or you could spend more, 20 minutes a game, if you really want to study things. Of course, you should spend the extra time game planning during the NT, and probably also should pick a few of your toughest games over the season to do the same. But for the most part, you can get by with only a little time each day, most days.
Finally, I advise people to spend a good amount of time being active in the community. The most important thing for new coaches to do is just that. Talk to your conference mates, read the forums, sitemail coaches, find a mentor. There is a ton to know, even at my peak there was much more I didn't know than I did know. And there is no better way to get ideas and insights than to listen to other coaches, especially ones who are much more successful than you. I realize many coaches don't post on the forums because of the negative, combative atmosphere. But I really urge people not to stop participating for that reason. Just ignore the coaches who come to argue and put people down, and try to take advantage of all the good there is on the forums and all the advantages you can gain by being active in the community. It is also very helpful and rewarding to become a mentor, and to help other people, as you become a more successful coach - like people say in everything, you don't really know something until you can explain it to somebody else.
WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?
coach_billyg: Well, I guess I jumped the gun on this one. It is, of course, to be active in the community. If you have a conference mate you like and respect, ask them to mentor you, or just ask them if they mind if you ask some questions, and then go ahead and ask.
Also, don't get frustrated. This game can be frustrating, but it can also be a LOT of fun. Give it a little time for you to get used to things, and keep an open mind, and success will come to you in time :)
WIS: What is your favorite aspect of Hoops Dynasty?
coach_billyg: I love strategy games of all kinds, and HD is one of the first among them. I also really enjoy the community. I would have quit HD long, long ago, if not for the fun I had talking with other coaches, debating issues and sharing ideas, and especially the interactions with coaches in my beloved GLV conference. For a long time, after I was most successful, and was then heavily burnt out - I hardly touched my teams - but I still spent 5-10 hours a week just talking to people, responding on the forums, etc. It really can be more fun than the game itself, at times.
WIS: Least favorite?
coach_billyg: Well, I'll include two things. By far my least favorite is the poor climate of the forums these days. I wish WIS would step in and moderate for a little while, to try to set things straight. It would really be nice if a new coach could come on and ask a dumb question, and get nice helpful answers and no negativity. It is really a shame that is not always the case.
The other thing that I really am not a fan of is the many tedious hours it takes recruiting in D2 and D3. It got better with potential, and I really hope the change to add formulas to sort with will help - that cut down on the sorting of players. But having to send all those phone calls, and read and process all the responses, it's really not fun. And its highly time-consuming, especially when you have to do it early in recruiting (by the way, it's horrible the first cycle is two hours. WIS could gain massive points with the community merely by starting that cycle, say, 12 hours earlier, and giving people a chance to get their stuff in without totally disrupting their lives).
WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?
coach_billyg: Recruit generation is the No. 1 issue in the game. There can be no doubt about that. Simply look at the D1 population data (I publish it fairly regularly). There was a massive decline in D1 coaching immediately following the new engine. The new engine had a lot of good, but WIS's attempt to make elite recruits in D1 really did not work. It totally screwed up D1 for all but the top teams, and I would argue it largely screwed it up for those teams too - nobody wanted to be playing teams with 90s in everything from the S16 on, again - and that also makes it impossible for anyone else to compete.
So, I would like to see elite recruits implemented properly, and recruit generation fixed. Recruiting needs a national component, or a player preference that effectively nullifies distance advantage. I think the whole of D1 needs to come down, where you expect a 25th in the country team to have a bunch of guys who are like 80/80/80/80/80/80, not 90/90/90/90/90/90. You know, 70/90/60/90/90 is fine too, just need teams to be more imperfect, to make team planning a bigger part of the game.
The change to drop D1 overall talent would open the door to have maybe 10 recruits like the ones we have today. Let them be recruited nationally, on even footing, by everybody. Make it take at least 10K to even show up on the recruit. If this doesn't cause battling between the regional elites, nothing will! WIS's theory that competition among elites should open the door for mid majors to grab some players, well, it only works if the elites are competing enough - and today, they simply are not, or it's just a regional power struggle - where a couple elites are battling for the lion's share of the great recruits, and none slip by those couple elites.
WIS: Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?
coach_billyg: I hate doing this, because there are so many great people out there in the community, and I can't possibly name them all. Plus, I'm sure I will forget one of the ones I have enjoyed playing with the most.
Of course, I have to give a shoutout to all GLV Tark coaches, past and present, who have made that conference so much fun. There are too many to list who I have particularly enjoyed playing with, so I will just list a couple who really stand out in my mind - studly (isustud), sgerdes, mpollon, nash/bing, storm, marmup, and BrianP.
And finally, there are a few coaches I haven't really had the pleasure to coach with, but who are in my opinion total class, and are everything a person posting on the forums should be - guys like iguana, weena, alblack56, and many others.
And lastly, there are a couple guys who are a total pain in the ass, who I really hate, like... just kidding :)
WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?
coach_billyg: I suppose I would play basketball, but truly I would be hopeless. Maybe something like 15 ATH, 25 speed, 25 defense, 35 rebounding, 10 low post, 10 perimeter, 1 ball handling, 10 passing, maybe 30 stamina (asthma, yikes), and maybe a half dozen work ethic. I can't dribble to save my life, but am decently tall and can jump decently, and put in the effort to play as good of defense as I can, which is really saying very little :) I am probably being too generous, but hey, do we really need to split hairs between bad, and god awful? I think not.
alblack56: What would other coaches be surprised to learn about you?
coach_billyg: People might be surprised to learn that I have almost no idea how to play basketball. We played recreationally and in gym, but there are a lot of rules I didn't know until I played this game. I couldn't tell you a damn thing about the difference in offenses, although I had the general, very general idea of the defenses. I loved to watch Kentucky but never played enough myself to even really understand all the mechanics. I probably know 20 times more about the game itself than I did when I started, which might be a good thing, as HD does not always mirror real life. And in truth, probably, if you asked me to explain things about basketball strategy, I'd probably be describing HD more so than real life.
alblack56: Do you regret naming yourself about Billy Gillispie?
coach_billyg: Well, to some extent. I was extremely excited for him, mostly because I was extremely happy Tubby left. He's a good coach but never was the ambassador a UK coach should be, nor was he getting it done recruiting-wise. Also I couldn't STAND the way he would leave players on the bench with two fouls before half, or three before 10 minutes left or whatever, no matter how badly we needed them or how badly we got beat without them. I respect Tubby the man, and wish him the best, but I am very happy he is no longer the coach of Kentucky.
That said, I was really just in love with Billy Gillispie because he was not Tubby Smith. I thought he would be our savior, and in a way, he was - he was so bad, we got Calipari instead :) I don't wish any harm on him though, which I cannot say for all Cat fans, even though I cannot believe the way he treated some of our players (however, I know a lot of coaches are probably pretty rough on players, just the way he is). I would obviously much rather be named coach_calipari right now, but it is what it is :)
Trentonjoe: What's the difference between coaches who make the NT tournament regularly and those who win in the NT regularly?
coach_billyg: Tough question (but a good one). Like I said earlier, there are a lot of things you have to do in this game. Typically, when you look at a team who barely made the NT, they have a lot of room for improvement - you look at their schedule, they are playing teams well below teams they could solidly beat. They are playing teams with bad records (the other team's record has a bigger impact on your RPI than anything else), etc. You look at their game plan, they are playing the wrong tempo, or have poorly set up distro. Or else they have a very underwhelming team talent-wise. Teams who just make the NT usually have room to improve on all fronts - recruiting raw talent, team planning, game planning, scheduling, and practice planning.
To start winning in the NT regularly, you usually just have to pick one or two fronts, and get a little better. It's not huge margins. But again, to make deep runs regularly, you need to seek to optimize every area.
To get away from generalities a bit - usually teams who make the NT have the talent to do so. Typically their biggest weakness is on the team planning front. You see teams with two small forwards, both in the same class, three seniors, all bigs, stuff like that. Correcting those issues, well, that's team planning 101. I'll talk a bit more about team planning in the next question, as it fits nicely.
docmastermd: What's most important to having successful teams apart from recruiting the best players? Scheduling, game plan, having the correct offense/defense for your team, etc.?
coach_billyg: The most important thing to having successful teams - even INCLUDING recruit the best players - is team planning. You don't need the best players to be highly successful. Of course, if you have crap players, it hardly matters if you have a true PG playing PG complemented by a scoring SG, and all that. But within the realm of NT talent - you see a bigger swing in quality of season based on team planning, than by raw talent! It may not be obvious, but if you really master team planning, and then look around, you see *major* flaws on almost every team in the NT. Those teams, with the same talent, could often go from 30th in the nation to 10th, 10th to fifth, just by recruiting smarter in a team planning way. I'd like to talk about team planning a bit, as in my opinion, it's the No. 1 area where people can improve, and where people don't put enough emphasis.
As I mentioned above, team planning 101 is doing things like, when you have two seniors, have a big and a guard. Don't have two small forwards in the same class, that kind of stuff. If you have five upperclassmen, they should all start, or minimally, four should start and one should be your key man off the bench (hopefully, a guard). When I look at your team, what upperclassmen you will have next season and the season after - all THOSE players need to be starting as upperclassmen, too (up to five, obviously). And your freshman class now, when seniors, should be a great foundation for a great team.
It goes further than class structure, however. You might have the right number of guards and right number of bigs in every class, but are they the RIGHT guards, the right bigs? If you have four point guards and zero shooting guards, you are killing yourself. The key is this - always heed the law of diminishing returns. You experience diminishing returns on virtually every front, the only exception of sorts is defense. If you are unfamiliar with the law, what it means is this - when you have zero offensive stars, going from zero to one will reap HUGE dividends. Going from one to two will still be great, but not as much as zero to one. Going from two to three is worth less, still. At some point, that extra offensive star is just about useless! But your first one can be incredibly valuable, the difference between a round one and Sweet 16 team, just on a single player.
Let me use an example. One of my conference mates, a great guy and a great coach, is known for his defense. He often will have his core four guards all superior defenders, and really he has one of the best defenses in the country, year after year. But he has yet to win his championship (he just recently lost in the title game though). A big reason is because he doesn't heed the law of diminishing returns. This is a guy I mentored to some extent, his class structure and all that is good. He heeds many of my fundamental rules, including, defense wins championships. But you have to be careful with that rule. All 10 of his core players are ALL great defenders, and NONE are great on offense. Yet he has very good teams. But with the same talent level, he could have multiple titles by now. How? Why not take one of those 80 ATH, 70 SPD, 80 DEF, 40 PER, 60 BH, 70 pass guards - a staunch D2 defender, and a capable guard all around - and replace him with a 40 ATH, 90 SPD, 40 DEF, 90 PER, 70 BH, 60 pass guard? That player is probably considered worse objectively, talent wise. But throw him on this coach's team, and he can put up 20-25 PPG at high efficiency. Sure, this coach has guys who can put up 7-8 PPG, but he's asking them to do 11-12, and that's his problem. If he just had his starting and backup SG sacrifice defense, his defense would be slightly worse, and you can hide bad defenders if you coach intelligently. Those two players could totally turn his offense around, make all the difference in the world. On defense, instead of maybe the No. 2 defense in the nation, he might drop to No. 10. But isn't it worth it, if your offense goes from No. 60 to No. 25?
That, in short, is the way you have to approach all aspects in this game. Offense experiences diminishing returns more so than anything, more than defense, rebounding, and anything else. Team-wide passing is up there too, on the diminishing returns front - once you have a great PG and a good SG for passing, the rest of the team seems to make a small difference. But anyway - what you need to do is hit that "sweet spot." In triangle, for example, you really have no need for more than maybe two key offensive players and two role players on a lineup. So, take the hit on your defense, no matter what it is, and get a couple offensive studs. One or two of your starters can have virtually no offense, and they should be either stellar REB/DEF type bigs, or a true PG who is great on DEF and at running the point. Then you should have one to two players who can score some, maybe one at five PPG and one at eight PPG, who really focus on defense, but who doesn't TOTALLY ignore offense. In general, you don't find that many totally useless offensive players, who aren't just terrible all around. So usually if you focus on defense and rebounding and running the point, for say three of your five eventual starters, you will probably end up with a couple role players in there (on offense).
So, when you see a team out there with a super highflying offense, great scoring bigs and great scoring guards, but they aren't killer on defense or rebounding, they are REALLY screwing up. When you see a pure defensive team, they are REALLY screwing up. When you see a team who is solid on offense and defense, but can't rebound, they are REALLY screwing up. When you see a team who is balanced but their offense all comes from their bigs, they are REALLY screwing up. You have to balance all these areas. Virtually every one is subject to diminishing returns.
So, in recruiting, you need to make sure you go in knowing what you want. Don't go in needing a guard and a big. People talk like that all the time. Go in needing a guard who is going to be one of your key offensive stars, or needing a REB/DEF oriented big man, or a guy to play SF who needs to have some good REB, solid DEF, while contributing some passing as well. Of course, you need to be flexible, and work around what is available. But generally speaking, outside of a couple studs likely to go D1 (if D2) or D2 (if D3) or to a top D1 school (if D1), there are usually a lot of players around the same talent level. In D2, I often will find 20 bigs, where I really, really want one, but they go D1, and then of the next 20, there are a good 10 who are almost a wash, and it's incredibly challenging to identify who is really the "best." But luckily, that is not what is so important - instead, think, who is the best fit?
Anyway, one final comment to wrap this all up. Obviously, you need to have a team setup (your generic game plan) in mind when you recruit these players. Recruiting an offensive stud for the sake of recruiting an offensive stud is fine, but what is really going to get you places, is recruiting an offensive stud because when you look at the team you have, and you look at how they will grow, and where you expect your weaknesses to be, you think what you are missing is a guy to be your leading or second leading scorer.
So, when I talked earlier about building a vision for the "optimal team," this is a combination of players and team setup. They go hand in hand. You can't implement the optimal team without both. So grow them together, see how variations off your theme work, and keep trying to improve. With the same talent level, if you array it right and set that team up right, it makes ALL the difference in the world. I mean really, I see so many top five by talent teams barely make the NT, or even miss it, and they could be No. 1 in the country. Talent is important, but it's far from everything, and I don't even think it's the most important thing. Focus on making the most of the talent you have and you will be in good shape.
m4284850: Will you explain your certain players fitting better in certain offenses theory (EX: a perimeter guy working better in the triangle than the flex)? It's some very valuable info!
coach_billyg: I wish you had asked me a few years ago. For a while, I ran motion/press in D1, and triangle/press in D2, and that is when I won five of my nine D1 and five of my seven D2 titles. At the time, I could tell you in great detail, the differences between motion and triangle. The general sentiment is these offenses are about the same - and they are - but not if you are trying to play at the highest level. If you are trying to win championships, these details are important. Like I said, winning championships is about claiming every percent advantage you can, every tenth of a percent, and offensive differences are important on that scale.
In short, the biggest difference between motion and triangle is the way the distro works, and how the offense flows with different quantities of offensive talent. In triangle, you can be highly successful even if you have two guys on each lineup who are god awful on offense. In motion, that is much less the case. Of course, a great team can be great with any offense, but it's all about the extent of greatness - you might be No. 1 with triangle and No. 3 with motion, but to me, that's a huge difference.
Motion really clicks when you have a nice smooth distro, and a good bunch of offensive players. The "superstar" model does not work nearly as well in motion as ANY offense, including flex and fast break. Now, don't take this too far, just like game planning, this is a subtle and sensitive topic. Fantastic offensive players should still be your leading scorers, and you still want to get the ball to your best scorers. Let me try to give an example to illustrate the subtlety.
Suppose you have a team, it has a fantastic scorer guard, let's say this is D2. And your star guard is a 90SPD/PER type of guy. You also have a guard playing SF who can score well, more like an 80 SPD/70 PER kind of guy, and then a PG who is a good PG but not much of a scorer, maybe a 70 ATH/85 SPD/45 PER kind of guy. You have two bigs, a high scoring center (75 ATH, 90 LP) and a DEF/REB big (80 ATH, 50 LP). In triangle, you might set this distro up (SG, SF, C, PG, PF) as 15, 10, 10, 4, 3. And with your backups, you might have something more like 15, 10, 10, 8, 6, 4, 3, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0.
In motion, you might set this distro up (SG, SF, C, PG, PF) as 13, 10, 10, 7, 5. And with backups, you might be like 13, 10, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 3, 3, 2, 1, 0.
This is frequently how my balanced offensive teams would look in that day and age. In triangle, my top couple scorers were usually a little higher than the pack, than they would be. And I had a lot more 0, 1, 2 type players. A two on my triangle team might be a four or five on my motion team. Motion you really don't need great offense to be a highly efficient five to seven PPG scorer. In triangle, you can easily have multiple 0-2 PPG scorers and it doesn't matter. In motion, this is much less the case.
Another semi example is when you have a mediocre team with one star. You still need that star to score a lot, in any offense, because he's so much better than anyone else on the team. Well in triangle, flex, FB, he might be like a 23-27 PPG scorer, and in motion, a 20-23 PPG scorer. So, these are not HUGE differences, but over the course of a whole team of 12 players, it's a significant difference. Often my top scorers in motion would be like 12, 11, 10, 10, 9, 8, 6 PPG, with a bunch of 4-5 PPG guys, and in triangle, 15, 13, 12, 10, 8, 5, 5, with mostly two PPG guys left.
And it's not just how you set up a team, it's how you recruit. In motion, part of the reason I had more 4-5 PPG guys is because I recruited for them. Having just enough offense to score four PPG as an underclassmen and 6-8 PPG as a senior is a lot more valuable in motion than triangle, so I had more players like that. On the other hand, I'd have more god awful scorers in triangle, because they don't hurt you at all. The BEST way to understand the differences in offenses is to have two teams, your two primary focus teams, and run the same defense. Run a similar system - like a guard-oriented offense, strong defense, whatever. But then have one run one offense, and the other, a different offense, and really try to optimize both teams, and see how they shake out differently.
I'll make a few comments now on the different offenses:
Triangle - Highly successful with a couple strong scorers on the floor at all times. If you have three strong scorers in your starting lineup, a fourth adds almost no value, and a fifth is damn near useless. Two "studs" and a strong scorer are really at that point where you experience very strong diminishing returns, maybe like 25 practice minutes in practice planning. Triangle, like all offenses in this day and age, benefits from a strong guard offense. Perimeter is highly important to guards. PER/SPD are key, ATH/BH are less important FROM AN OFFENSIVE STANDPOINT than in other offenses. Always use caution - I've had many people take me the wrong way - I'll be talking about offense, and say ATH isn't as important. But if ATH is incredibly important for your defense, I am making no comment about that - you still might need to really focus on ATH. Passing is also important, relative to other offenses. In general, big men can be successful from the four or five. For bigs in general, I don't think PER and SPD and BH are that important, but this is particularly the case in a triangle offense, particularly for the center. My best triangle centers are straight ATH, REB, LP, DEF, SB guys, I virtually ignore everything else. ATH is highly important for successful scoring bigs. Triangle slowdown seems to be maybe slightly more effective than other offenses, but it's really hard to say for sure.
Motion - Highly successful with a balanced offense. Guards thrive off of SPD/BH, you can get away with less PER in your top scoring guards (as well as your medium scoring guards), than you can in triangle/flex, and its significant. In D1, an 80 PER guard can be super successful. Bigs seem a little more balanced in motion, where your center is not as extreme as in triangle with regard to the value of SPD/BH/PER. ATH is again highly important for successful scoring bigs, on the higher end. And you seem to be able to get at least a good 5-6 PPG out of any big with strong ATH and mediocre LP (40-60 maybe even a bit lower). Playing plus settings on your three point shooting for guards seems least successful in motion, but of course, there are situations where it still makes sense (particularly with the plus-one). Passing is important in any offense, but less critical in motion than any offense.
Flex - I am not as versed in flex. However, the plus setting on guards is clearly most beneficial in the flex. One or two guards can dominate in flex beyond what is possible in any other offense. If you have a 30 PPG guard and a 20 PPG guard, jacking up threes, you better hope you are running flex offense! You can get great efficiency with those numbers, particularly outside of D1. Flex, I don't really understand the bigs or what makes them tick. They just don't seem to tick very well, I think big offense is more useful in triangle and motion than it is in flex. Also, flex seems to really value guard PER, relying less on ATH/BH than motion, and maybe even valuing PER/SPD more than triangle.
Fastbreak - I have limited experience with FB too, but did a fairly in-depth study with a D1 mid major not long ago. It was in the new engine, and I built a team up to an Elite 8, where they lost by one or three to a team who had nine of the 10 best players. Fast break, in my opinion, is a tough offense for new coaches, but potentially great for experienced coaches. One thing is clear - you can have offensive studs without great LP/PER, it's nothing like triangle/motion/flex in that regard. I had an almost 25 PPG scorer guard with 70 ATH, 100 SPD, 48 PER, 99 BH, and A+ FT shooting. He was more efficient than the vast majority of 99 ATH/SPD/PER guards I've had on championship-caliber teams. I think free throw shooting is more important in fast break than any offense. I think ATH/SPD are more important in fast break, in general, than any offense, and LP/PER less important than any offense by far. BH and passing seem pretty important, but I can't place exactly where they fall, however I do think BH is very important for guards. You also will get significantly more fatigued running FB, so stamina is key. Also, fast break is great distro-wise - in motion, it seems you are climbing uphill if you don't have a nice slanted distro. FB you can do whatever you want and it doesn't care. You can have two guys at 20 and nobody else in double digits, and it seems ok. Bigs can possibly be more successful as medium scorers in FB than any other offense, but I'm not too confident on that one. If you are going to fight an uphill battle against a superior team with superior talent, I honestly think fast break offers the greatest possibility. I strongly considered taking my South Carolina team (took over at a B-, low-end PIT-type club) to fast break, but didn't want to lose the couple seasons switching from triangle, which I am very comfortable with.
A couple more notes. The best D1 team in the world should always play motion. Its hands-down the best offense to play if you are going to have a team full of 99 everything players. The only possible exception is FB, because I haven't seen it with that good of teams, but my gut tells me it is much better when imperfect players are what is available to you. Teams trying to rebuild, probably shouldn't play motion. When imperfect players are all that is available, and you are going to be significantly disadvantaged talent-wise compared to most NT teams, you want an offense that lets you really capitalize on a couple strong offensive players. That basically means anything but motion.
Keep in mind that all of this stuff on offenses comes from my own experience. I did not take a single generalization from anywhere else. My own experience could be different than yours, I am pretty confident the above was true in my case, but I am heavily guard-oriented guy, place defense above all else (not the rating, defense wins championships!), and a number of other things that could make our situations different. Context is everything. That is why I spend so much time talking about the system you play, building your vision, and experimenting to find what works best in your case. There are few absolutes, and you have to build up from your own experience. You can take the above as guidelines but even if I'm totally right for me (which is unlikely), in your system, maybe 25 percent of these things are no longer even true. So it's always critical you do your own experimenting and figure out what works best for you, in your system, following your vision.
WIS: Thanks to coach_billyg for your participation and all of your contributions to WhatIfSports.com and Hoops Dynasty. Also, special thanks to all HD players that submitted questions.