Is the gap between the top schools and everyone else greater now?

Yappi

Go Buckeyes
Is the gap between the top schools and everyone else greater now?

Comparing teams from 10 years ago? 20 years ago? 30 years ago? 40 years ago? And beyond???
 

D4fan

Well-known member
I follow small school ball more than big school. It seems right around the turn of the century we had some amazing teams with talent centralized on these teams through AAU friends literally teaming up together. SVSM with Lebron in the north to Bill Walker and North College Hill to the south. Somewhere along the line it seemed like after 10-15 years of such dominate teams we are seeing more parody today, at least at the small school level.

Not sure if competitive balance has much to do with it or not? My guess is fewer parents are willing to sacrifice their personal lives to chase a state title when they will be sacrificing their personal lives all summer attending tournaments. The increased emphasis on spring and summer ball has decreased the number of extremely talented high school teams pooled into one unit.

One area I am constantly impressed with is the number of coaches who are very good today vs 20 years ago and especially 40 years ago. I suspect it is resources available on demand such as ESPN, YouTube etc that allows for far more convenient study of the game and the end result is many more prepared teams today than years back.

My impression is the gap is narrowing between the middle teams and the elite.
 

scbuckeye99

Well-known member
Is the gap between the top schools and everyone else greater now?

Comparing teams from 10 years ago? 20 years ago? 30 years ago? 40 years ago? And beyond???

I will be curious to see going forward how much of an impact COVID has on programs the same way the 2008/09 recession had on athletic programs, especially in cities. For example, Toledo Public couldn't play basketball until January. Cleveland public cancelled all winter sports period I believe. Going forward will those schools be able to "rebound"?
 
I follow small school ball more than big school. It seems right around the turn of the century we had some amazing teams with talent centralized on these teams through AAU friends literally teaming up together. SVSM with Lebron in the north to Bill Walker and North College Hill to the south. Somewhere along the line it seemed like after 10-15 years of such dominate teams we are seeing more parody today, at least at the small school level.

Not sure if competitive balance has much to do with it or not? My guess is fewer parents are willing to sacrifice their personal lives to chase a state title when they will be sacrificing their personal lives all summer attending tournaments. The increased emphasis on spring and summer ball has decreased the number of extremely talented high school teams pooled into one unit.

One area I am constantly impressed with is the number of coaches who are very good today vs 20 years ago and especially 40 years ago. I suspect it is resources available on demand such as ESPN, YouTube etc that allows for far more convenient study of the game and the end result is many more prepared teams today than years back.

My impression is the gap is narrowing between the middle teams and the elite.
I don't buy the better coaches theory. Most teams I see now do the same thing - penetrate, pass & cut. Good picking has disappeared. If anything
I would say that coaching is the same if not worse. The 3 point line has destroyed the game.
 

cdub4

Member
I think generally speaking, a lot of the elite talent migrates to prep schools before their senior year. I think there is more parity in general, but at the very top theory is a gap between maybe handful of schools and everyone else.

It seems to the last few years ASVSM and Moeller have been on another level...they are sort of NE Ohio's and SW Ohio version of prep schools.

I mean Malaki Branham moved from Columbus to Akron to play HS basketball as ASVSM. I have no issue with it at all, it seems like an excellent move. Kids always found a way to make it to power programs.

Again, I think the difference is a lot of elite Ohio talent will leave to state before they graduate, and that is relatively new.
 

Yeoman

Active member
I posted this in a similar discussion a few years ago and it's worth repeating here. I found a set of state tournament programs I'd kept, and then added numbers from a few random seasons in the OHSAA tournament archive. When I have time maybe I'll add a more recent year or two. My guess is that we'll see a one-time drop the year the running-time rule went into effect but the general trend will have continued.

These are the average margins of victory in the first round of the tournament, for all the teams that eventually made it to state. It's more a measure of the gap from top to bottom, not top to "everyone else", but it's impressive:

1981: 18.4
1982: 19.3
1986: 23.1
1999: 25.9
2006: 31.7
2013: 40.4
2014: 43.1
 
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Yappi

Go Buckeyes
I posted this in a similar discussion a few years ago and it's worth repeating here. I found a set of state tournament programs I'd kept, and then added numbers from a few random seasons in the OHSAA tournament archive. When I have time maybe I'll add a more recent year or two. My guess is that we'll see a one-time drop the year the running-time rule went into effect but the general trend will be have continued.

These are the average margins of victory in the first round of the tournament, for all the teams that eventually made it to state. It's more a measure of the gap from top to bottom, not top to "everyone else", but it's impressive:

1981: 18.4
1982: 19.3
1986: 23.1
1999: 25.9
2006: 31.7
2013: 40.4
2014: 43.1
Wow, that is a significant growth. Any other reasons? Does anyone know if they always let schools pick their spots on the bracket or were they assigned in the past?

One of my pet peeves is seeing a top ranked team taking a first round game and getting the very lowest seeded team. In the second round, they play the second lowest seeded team who had a "bye". It seems in the past, that first round game would have been between a middle seed and the lowest seed. Most often, the middle seed would win and move on to give the highest seed a reasonable game. Now we have two major blowouts two games in a row. Definitely not fun to watch and doesn't make much sense why it is allowed.

My suggestion to stop it is having the top line of the bracket determine home team and getting rid of higher seed automatically getting the home game. This would mean taking the bye automatically means you are at home even if you are playing a higher seed in round 2. The higher seed then would have to make a choice, take the bye and play at home in round 2 or play in round 1 and go on the road for round 2.
 

Mr. Slippery

Well-known member
I don't buy the better coaches theory. Most teams I see now do the same thing - penetrate, pass & cut. Good picking has disappeared. If anything
I would say that coaching is the same if not worse. The 3 point line has destroyed the game.
I'm not sure the coaching is any better now. However, I would argue that because more coaching is allowed to take place outside of the competitive portion of the season, the games themselves are far more heavily coached than they were a generation or two ago. Some coaches monopolize the players' time to the point where the players can't even take a breath without the coach's instruction. As a result, the style of gameplay seems more deliberate as every move is analyzed by the coach before proceeding.

Also, I would agree that the 3 pt. line has definitely changed how the game is played and how it is coached.

I just looked through my alma mater's basketball files:

The current coach is in his 8th season. As of this moment, the team has averaged 52.7ppg under his tutelage. That includes 3 district championships. His most successful team (in terms of W-L) averaged 60.4ppg. His regional final team averaged 49.5ppg. and failed to score 40 on 5 occasions that season (yet still won 3 of those 5 games). The program is 24 games over .500 during his tenure. I worked the table for a game that produced a 31-28 win. I said "never again" after that one. The opponent had open midrange jumpers the entire evening and couldn't make them, so I can't attribute the score to a terrific defensive display by both teams. During his tenure, the team has won 7 games while failing to score 40 points or more. Prior to that, the last time they'd won a game while failing to score more than 40 points was 1964.

I go back to the late '70s/early '80s (i.e. no 3 pt. line) and find a coach who spent 6 years at the helm. His teams averaged 57.7ppg. The team made only 1 district final and compiled a 59-73 record in his 6 seasons. The team's best W-L season produced a 12-11 record and an average 60.8ppg. Their worst W-L season yielded a 7-14 record and a 53.7ppg scoring average.

I'll go back one more time to the '60s and find another coach who spent 7 seasons at the helm. He compiled a 62-69 record with no district final appearances. His teams averaged 57.2ppg. His best team finished 17-3 and averaged 68ppg. His worst team finished 2-17 and averaged 55.5ppg.

IMHO, another factor here is the disappearance of the multi-sport athlete. It seemed like every mid-sized school used to have at least or 2 guys on the team who could shoot the lights out or could impact the game with their raw athleticism. Fewer of those kids are playing because their prospects on the baseball diamond are too good, or they're going "all-in" with offseason football lifting in pursuit of a scholarship. In the boys HS basketball games I've attended in recent years, I've been amazed at how many of the teams lacked anyone who could shoot consistently well. It's possible that it's just easier for teams to sit back in a zone now and watch the opponent not be able to shoot them out of it.

With regard to the question posed in the thread title, I don't know about boys basketball, but I'd say for girls basketball, the answer is "yes" and then some. Some girls programs are simply dreadful, and many of the dreadful ones have little hope of improving quickly because any above average players in the lower levels often gravitate toward the better programs rather than stick around and try to elevate the struggling program that could desperately use the help. It also seems like the worst programs have constant turnover with their coaches.
 
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Yeoman

Active member
Wow, that is a significant growth. Any other reasons? Does anyone know if they always let schools pick their spots on the bracket or were they assigned in the past?
I don't know when it changed, but there was a time (certainly in the late 70s, probably for a while afterwards) when only four teams in a district were seeded. Everyone else went into a pool and as their name was drawn they selected a slot. Any of the four seeds could insert their name at any time.

That probably made for slightly less protection of the highest seeds...but only slightly. It certainly can't be the whole story: the average margin of all first-round games now is bigger than the average margin for regional champions was 40 years ago. And the interesting thing to me was that it was a pretty smooth gradient (as best we can tell from only having that handful of years). It wasn't a question of any one-off rules change like the 3-point basket or the change in seeding procedure, it was a slow change over time.

If you're curious, here's a link to the old thread. It's a little different context, though--the question on the table was what could be done about all the first-round blowouts, not so much wondering about the cause.

 

Yeoman

Active member
My suggestion to stop it is having the top line of the bracket determine home team and getting rid of higher seed automatically getting the home game. This would mean taking the bye automatically means you are at home even if you are playing a higher seed in round 2. The higher seed then would have to make a choice, take the bye and play at home in round 2 or play in round 1 and go on the road for round 2.
That wouldn't have any impact down here; all SWO tournament games are at neutral sites.
 

TriangleMan

Well-known member
I go back to the late '70s/early '80s (i.e. no 3 pt. line) and find a coach who spent 6 years at the helm. His teams averaged 57.7ppg. The team made only 1 district final and compiled a 59-73 record in his 6 seasons. The team's best W-L season produced a 12-11 record and an average 60.8ppg. Their worst W-L season yielded a 7-14 record and a 53.7ppg scoring average.
Drove an old milk truck to school everyday IIRC. ;)
 

nwwarrior09

Well-known member
I don't buy the better coaches theory. Most teams I see now do the same thing - penetrate, pass & cut. Good picking has disappeared. If anything
I would say that coaching is the same if not worse. The 3 point line has destroyed the game.
There are very good reasons for those things. 1) The three point line. For most kids, it is much easier to shoot inside-out threes off of penetrate and kick while having their body and feet already squared to the basket than to shoot threes coming off of screens and having to adjust their body and their feet. 2) Especially in the smaller divisions, pack-line defense. Most teams move quicker offensively spacing the floor and cutting as opposed to running set patterns and screening frequently. It's easier for the defense to pack it in the more you screen and easier for the offense to move the defense the more they just move themselves by cutting.

People love to talk about offense, but defense is much different than 20-30 years ago. IMO the coaching of defense and how it is officiated has a far bigger impact on the difference in the way the game appears today as opposed to how offense has evolved with the three point line.
 
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Skipper10

New member
There are very good reasons for those things. 1) The three point line. For most kids, it is much easier to shoot inside-out threes off of penetrate and kick while having their body and feet already squared to the basket than to shoot threes coming off of screens and having to adjust their body and their feet. 2) Especially in the smaller divisions, pack-line defense. Most teams move quicker offensively spacing the floor and cutting as opposed to running set patterns and screening frequently. It's easier for the defense to pack it in the more you screen and easier for the offense to move the defense the more they just move themselves by cutting.

People love to talk about offense, but defense is much different than 20-30 years ago. IMO the coaching of defense and how it is officiated has a far bigger impact on the difference in the way the game appears today as opposed to how offense has evolved with the three point line.
I agree with this statement.

I would also like to factor in that modern software/technology such as Hudl for coaches. Most leagues it is required for a coach to post games on their league sites for other coaches to watch and break down film. (much more convenient than having to go scout games on an off day) Coaches can break down each offensive and defensive set their opponent runs. Its a huge advantage for a coach to prepare his/her players defense on their next opponent.
 

D4fan

Well-known member
Wow, that is a significant growth. Any other reasons? Does anyone know if they always let schools pick their spots on the bracket or were they assigned in the past?

One of my pet peeves is seeing a top ranked team taking a first round game and getting the very lowest seeded team. In the second round, they play the second lowest seeded team who had a "bye". It seems in the past, that first round game would have been between a middle seed and the lowest seed. Most often, the middle seed would win and move on to give the highest seed a reasonable game. Now we have two major blowouts two games in a row. Definitely not fun to watch and doesn't make much sense why it is allowed.

My suggestion to stop it is having the top line of the bracket determine home team and getting rid of higher seed automatically getting the home game. This would mean taking the bye automatically means you are at home even if you are playing a higher seed in round 2. The higher seed then would have to make a choice, take the bye and play at home in round 2 or play in round 1 and go on the road for round 2.
Small school Dayton area early 1980's. Top 4 teams were seeded and placed themselves where they wanted to be on the board. After that, all other teams were drawn at random from a hat and assigned the next open spot on the bracket.

I am not a fan of seeding every team. I like rewarding the top 4 then let the chips (slips) fall where they may.
 

eastisbest

Well-known member
I don't buy the better coaches theory. Most teams I see now do the same thing - penetrate, pass & cut. Good picking has disappeared. If anything
I would say that coaching is the same if not worse. The 3 point line has destroyed the game.
Given it has taken time but I'm looking at the team UToledo has put on the floor and they are using those old motion skills to get open 3's and knocking them down. It's maybe been a painful process to get to this point but more kids are able to shoot from further out and I suspect what I see at UT and other mid-majors doing so as to compete with the one-and-dones will matriculate down to the high school levels. But it will take time. I think you'd admit, that system is a hard teach and a coach will think twice about changing what has been done. Those that get over that fear I think will be rewarded.

I've looked at some of the old pre-arc stats from teams around here that were state level good and the team shooting percentages before the arc were not all I thought I remembered of the good ol days. They kinda stunk.
 

nooks

Well-known member
The GAP now is absolutely greater. 40 years ago there were always upsets at the district level. Very rare now. Same thing in football. There is a group of about 8-10 teams who you absolutely know will produce the state champion. The rest just fill-in the schedules. Come to think of it, college football is even worse. There you have only 4-5 teams who you know will win it all.
 
The Southeast District has not won a Final 4 state semifinal game since 2012, when Portsmouth beat Ottawa-Glandorf 74-66 in the D3 semifinals. The very next year, in 2013, Warren Local in D2 and Ironton in D3 made the state semis, only to get knocked out before the championship game. In 2016, Lynchburg Clay made the D3 state semifinals, but again the D3 regional champion came up short in the semis. In 2017, Fairland lost to Akron SVSM in the D2 state semifinals.

Portsmouth used to be a dominant force in the SE district tournament, but the Trojans haven't won a district title since 2015 and a sectional title since 2017. PHS lost in the 2015 regional final to Columbus Eastmoor 49-45. SE district teams have not fared well against Central/East District teams in the Athens regional. Lucasville Valley lost to Columbus Bishop Ready in 2014 in the D3 regional final. That Valley team set the school record for most wins with 24. The very next year, undefeated Unioto at 24-0 lost to Columbus Walnut Ridge 46-45 as the Sherman Tanks lost the game at the foul line in the last 2 minutes. Two years ago, undefeated Wheelersburg lost to Harvest Prep 52-38 in the D3 regional finals. A few years before that, Portsmouth Clay lost in the D4 regional final to the Wellington School. 2 years ago a good Peebles team got manhandled in the D4 regional final by Berlin Hiland. Last season's regional was canceled, but had it been played Fairland would have had to get by Harvest Prep in the regional final.

The Southeast District has shown unfortunately that it is lagging behind other districts in regional and state tournament performance, and in head to head matchups, has not fared well at all. Central District teams can't wait to get to the Athens regional, knowing that their chances to reaching the state are much better given the poor record of SE district teams in regional play.

I can't speak for other districts, but one thing that hurts the SE district in their tournament performance is that few of the schools in the district schedule teams outside the district. The SE district tends to be very provincial in its scheduling, and I do believe it hurts the district when facing teams outside the district.

Portsmouth has been to Florida in the KSA tournament 4 times since 2011, and the Trojans have an 8-4 record overall there, playing schools from a wide geographical base. The Trojans are currently dry in basketball talent, but are 7-2 in the last 9 regional final games, and 8-1 in the last 9 state semifinal games. There are no dominant teams in the SE at this time, good teams, but not great with virtually no prospect of producing a Final 4 squad. I think scheduling up in the regular season would certainly help the SE district be able to be more competitive with teams in the Central and East districts in regional play.
 
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