WhatIfSports.com user kelby_03 has channeled his passion for Illinois basketball into Hoops Dynasty, where he's coached the Fighting Illini to three national championships. Kelby_03's resume at Illinois rivals the likes of Coach K, Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp: 54 seasons at the helm, 35 Big Ten conference championships (including 16 straight) and 47 (soon to be 48) National Tournament appearances. We caught up with kelby_03 to talk hoops, and he was kind enough to share some of his recipes for success.
kelby_03 Hoops Dynasty Overall Records
|Game||Seasons||Record||Conf. Champs||Ntl. Champs|
|Hoops Dynasty||192||4,558-1,414 (76.3%)||124||14|
kelby_03 Hoops Dynasty World Records
|World||Current School||Overall Record||Conf. Record||NT Record||Ntl. Champs|
|Allen||Clemson||1,508-496 (75.2%)||723-301 (70.6%)||139-55 (71.6%)||4|
|Crum||Illinois||1,521-480 (76.0%)||787-237 (76.9%)||130-53 (71.0%)||4|
WIS: Who is kelby_03?
kelby_03: I'm a 28-year-old single guy who grew up on a small farm in Central Illinois and now lives nearby in Effingham, IL. For the last few years I've worked at FedEx Ground as a delivery driver. I've observed firsthand the boom in online shopping. Right now with it being near Christmas I'm really getting hammered. You're killing me Cyber Monday!
WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?
kelby_03: I discovered WIS back in 2005 when I was an engineering student at Southern Illinois-Carbondale. I'm a huge Illinois basketball fan and was going nuts following their perfect season they had going at the time. I frequented the ESPN college basketball message boards and came across an interesting thread. A poster had a bracket of some of the best college basketball teams of all time and was getting results from their games with box scores and all. He was using the WIS SimMatchup engine and linked where he was getting the results from. After clicking on the link and seeing WhatIfSports I remembered hearing about the site previously from the Bill Simmons article. I soon came across Hoops Dynasty and was hooked.
WIS: What are some of your interests and hobbies?
kelby_03: Like anyone on this site I'm a huge sports fan. My favorite teams to follow are the St Louis Cardinals and Illinois basketball. I'd like to say Illinois football but I haven't had much to root for in a while now... To a little lesser extent I'm a 49ers fan in the NFL and Blues fan in hockey. I usually attend quite a few different games a year and was most recently at Game 1 of the NLCS in St Louis. Great game that went 13 innings and will forever be known as the "Carlos Beltran game." I've been playing fantasy baseball and football for 10-15 years. I'll usually profit a little in baseball but football just gives me players to root for or against on Sunday.
Outside of sports I like to hunt and fish and spend time outdoors. I took up running about five years ago to get into shape and have been running ever since. I will run a couple of half marathons a year and maybe a few local 5Ks. I've always wanted to run a full marathon just to say I've done it. Hopefully 2014 will be the year I get the courage to go for it.
WIS: Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?
kelby_03: This is tough and I could go a lot of different ways with it. It would be awesome to have Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Jackie Robinson, and Jack Buck at a table and just listen to them talk about baseball. I've always admired Stan Musial but since his passing last year I've heard so many incredible stories about him. I didn't quite realize what an incredible person he was and a true gentleman to everyone he met. That's only four so let's throw in someone like Candice Swanepoel for eye candy.
WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?
kelby_03: I played a lot of baseball when I was a kid. I wasn't that good really but had fun and played hard. I need to get into a local softball league sometime. Maybe I've gotten better after years of not playing. I played a ton of beer pong in college. Does that count?
WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?
kelby_03: Ozzie Smith was my favorite baseball player as a kid and then Ken Griffey Jr. when Ozzie retired. Then it transitioned to Mark McGwire although I feel a little betrayed by the steroid use. How could we of been so blind? Loved watching Albert Pujols for the 10 years he was with the Cardinals. Currently Yadier Molina is my favorite baseball player. The way he impacts every aspect of a game is amazing. I don't think others appreciate how good he is without watching him play game in and game out.
Deron Williams and Dee Brown are my favorite Illini basketball players. I had so much fun watching those guys play and win games. Although I'm not much of an NBA fan I still keep up with Deron.
Jerry Rice is my all-time favorite NFL player. Watching him is the main reason I became a 49ers fan.
WIS: Do you have any sports-related items on your bucket list that you have not yet done?
kelby_03: I really want to go to a Cardinals World Series game. I know I've had opportunities lately but wow tickets are expensive! I think I'll have more chances sooner than later to fulfill that one. Would like to go watch the Big 10 championship tournament in Indianapolis sometime. I believe Illinois will be back contending for the title in the next few years. Would also like to go to a playoff hockey game, a USA soccer match, and a 49ers game.
WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?
kelby_03: My first ever HD championship with Washington (Mo) in DIII. The first team I picked up was Bridgewater in Allen World. I bombed recruiting my first time but I learned a lot and was anxious to try again. I quickly picked up another team which was Washington in Iba. I had seven open scholarships and this time I filled all my openings with players I really liked. I won my first championship when those players were seniors. I don't remember many players' names from my teams but I can still remember most of the players on that team.
A close second also comes while I was at Washington. Washington was probably my most successful dynasty and after a lot of seasons my conference was starting to fall apart and I was losing interest. About halfway through my final season I decided to retire from the team and told my conference so. I went on to win the championship that season and it was thrilling. I realized when I got to the Elite 8 I might actually pull it off and started gameplanning like crazy. Winning it all that last time there was almost as fun as the first!
WIS: You completed one full season of SimLeague Baseball and garnered a championship. Beginner's luck or is SLB just too easy for you?
kelby_03: I used to be active in the forums and was invited to join a SLB theme league by the shtickless crew I talked to. I can't remember the exact parameters but I know we had a really low budget and some just funny rules to make it interesting. Anyway I got into it and ended up winning the league. It was some definite beginners luck but I enjoyed it. I decided I spent enough time playing HD that I didn't want to take up anymore games. I could see myself playing more SLB someday though, it's fun.
WIS: You're fresh off a national championship at Illinois in the Crum world. Do you like your chances to repeat? Any tips for building a consistent contender?
kelby_03: Trying to repeat a national championship is really hard and even harder in DI with early entries. I had six guys drafted from that team and four left early. It was one of the best teams I've ever had at Illinois. I only return five players so a repeat is going to be a long-shot but not impossible. My draft class was very good and I do return two great senior guards. I won't be a favorite but good enough to take down anyone.
I'd say the key for any championship contender is veterans. You'll see an occasional super talented young team make a run but most of the time the national champs will have juniors and seniors as their main players. I will often recruit players I'm sure will stick around through their junior season instead of highly ranked players who might leave earlier.
WIS: Back in season 10 of the Crum world, you won a national championship in just your third season at Clemson and then promptly left for the Illinois job. Why the move? What factors do you consider when making a coaching change?
kelby_03: Illinois was my dream school so I was moving up the ladder as quick as possible. That championship with Clemson made it a lot easier!
When changing jobs it's all about what your goals are. You can consider the quality of the team returning, how active a conference is, what the local recruiting is like and just personal preference. A lot of coaches like to take over a bad program just for the challenge of turning it around.
WIS: In Crum, you were able to navigate to D1 after just three seasons. Any advice to new users hoping to nab their D1 dream job as quickly as possible?
kelby_03: I started in Crum world in season 1 and lost in the championship game the first season. I moved to DII and once again lost in the championship game to the same coach (urdanick) in season 2. In season 3 I lost in the Elite 8 and was able to move up to Lipscomb in DI. I was very fortunate to move up that quick but racking up a bunch of tournament wins allowed me to do that.
If you're someone trying to move up as quickly as possible then you shouldn't take over any program rebuilding jobs. You want teams that have good returning talent so you can win right away. The most important thing about moving up is national tournament wins. You can move from DIII to DII after one season if you just get into the national tournament. Moving from Division II to DI takes a little longer. If your goal is to get into a high major DI team then I don't recommend taking over just any DI team. I would rather stay in DII longer and build up my resume with a good DII team than try to turn around a bad DI team without much talent. DI can be very tough for a new coach. If you're in no hurry though, then the experience of rebuilding teams will make you a lot better at Hoops Dynasty.
WIS: What is your strategy for recruiting? Do you utilize redshirts? Do you guarantee minutes?
kelby_03: There are quite a few different recruiting strategies that good coaches use that work for them. At the DII and DIII level, redshirts and guaranteed minutes are very useful. I try to redshirt a player every season in the lower levels. That extra year to develop a high potential recruit can yield some great players. You always want to be sure you can fulfill guaranteed minutes but recommend it using the tool to save your recruiting budget.
Division II and III recruiting strategies are much different than DI. In DII and DIII you want to use future stars to identify players with the best potential. I usually wait a couple days into recruiting before I even start going after players. As recruiting goes on players from a higher level will drop down a level if they don't get recruited by the level they expected. I start out by sending a phone call to higher level recruits I like to determine if I am a backup option. Then I wait and hope they will drop down to my level later in recruiting. Avoiding recruiting battles is important in the lower levels because you don't have very much money to work with. If you have a large distance advantage on another school then go for it.
Division I recruiting is an entire different animal and can be a ton of fun and frustrating at the same time. There are a limited amount of really good players and everyone wants them. To be good at high DI there are so many factors that you should be aware of. Team prestige, number of scholarships open, postseason money, and distance are the main aspects. I can spend hours looking over recruits and predicting what moves coaches will make and what players I can get without a fight. If I have a lot of extra money I'm looking for the best recruit I can steal from someone else. You have to be careful not to tick off too many people because they'll come looking for revenge in the future. Definitely one of the most fun parts of the game is DI recruiting.
WIS: What is your strategy for play distribution?
kelby_03: I like to setup my player distribution on a 0-10 scale based on how good a scorer I think someone should be. Majority of my teams have players in the 3-6 range with a couple guys getting higher and a couple rarely shooting. As the season goes on, I'll tweak my distribution according to performance. Plus I'll often make changes to take advantage of matchups with other teams.
WIS: How much time do you spend on your Hoops Dynasty teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?
kelby_03: During recruiting I can easily spend an hour or two each day keeping an eye on things. During the season I'll average 20 minutes a day to read my scores and put together a quick gameplan for the next day. I might put my team on autopilot for a few days and not even get on. Then other times I can spend hours looking over my teams, other coaches teams, reading the coaches corner, looking at stats and much more.
It might take more time at first to get to know how things work but I could easily spend less time and still be competitive.
WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?
kelby_03: Read as much as you can to get to know the game. Read the FAQ, Player's Guide, Developer Chat's and the forums. Other coaches much smarter than I have put together some really good information in the main HD Forum for new coaches. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand how something works. The game can be highly addicting so watch out!
WIS: What is your favorite aspect of Hoops Dynasty?
kelby_03: My favorite part is right in the name, dynasty. I like building dynasty programs that are the best of the best and winning championships. After playing this game for 8 years I still look forward to reading the play by play of a big game. I really enjoy getting to know the other coaches I'm competing against. Creating some friendships and rivalries is a lot of the fun. Nothing can beat an active conference and coaches corner.
WIS: Least favorite?
kelby_03: I would like to see the job hiring process improved. In DI there are far too many good teams that remain open because there aren't enough qualified coaches. It is extremely hard to take over an A or A+ prestige school if you aren't already at a school almost as good. Then most of those coaches would rather stay where they're at. I'd like to see an A prestige school hire a coach from a B- prestige school that improved that school from a D. Right now that probably wouldn't happen.
Also, I wish there was more freedom for how to improve player ratings. Potential is a good idea but I wish it wasn't so rigid. I'd like more players with average potential that don't improve all that fast but don't max out after improving 15 points. I wish more players could improve 20-40 points over a career but you have to really work hard on a certain skill to do it.
WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?
kelby_03: Pre-season tournaments like a Maui Invitational or Great Alaskan shootout would be a lot of fun.
WIS: Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?
kelby_03: I've come across so many users over the years that I've enjoyed competing against and have a lot of respect for. I've got to say hey to my brother kyle_lee7. I take credit for all his success! While I'm at it I'll take credit for all of girt25's success too. That crazy Badger fan would be nothing without me! I just found out my all-time arch-nemesis oldave just started playing HD again. He retired quite a while ago after he realized SUNY Oneonta would never reach the level of Washington (Mo). When I was a regular in the forums I really enjoyed talking and BSing with everyone in shtickless. They know who they are! A few of the other guys I've enjoyed playing with or against are twjared, oldman, peterock21, hford14, elmossle, vandydave, lakevin, acn24, aporter, hoosierchap, brikeisco, wang35, umpikes, juandetang, mtallen2020, av84aal, alblack56, groomsie, jason5, and many, many more.
WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?
kelby_03: I'd be terrible so I'd probably fit right in as a DIII walk-on. I guess I'd be an undersized SF because my ball handling is terrible but I'm not big enough to play the post.
- A- 20
- SPD- 40
- REB- 20
- DEF- 55
- BLK- 10
- LP- 5
- PE- 30
- BH- 5
- P- 50
- WE- 75
- STA- 80
- DUR- 75
WIS: We thank kelby_03 for his time and contributions to WhatIfSports.com.