CON­TI­NU­ITY IN THE COL­LEGE GAME

Rebound Magazine - - STATSTUFFER -

Un­like in the pro­fes­sional ranks, col­le­giate squads and pro­grams can’t re­tool their line­ups by trad­ing play­ers they don’t like for the ones they pre­fer, at least in the for­mal sense. What makes var­sity ath­let­ics an in­ter­est­ing and unique an­i­mal is the process in which schools bol­ster and re­in­force their ranks. In com­mon par­lance, we la­bel these as re­cruit­ing, trans­fer­ring and even pi­rat­ing.

The lev­els of suc­cess, and lack thereof, of var­i­ous col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties more of­ten than not hinge on how stacked their ros­ters are, both for a cur­rent cam­paign and fu­ture en­deav­ors. “Stack­ing” a lineup is ar­guably the big­gest chal­lenge in the col­le­giate arena, and fa­cil­i­tat­ing the tran­si­tion from one sea­son to the next by en­sur­ing the smooth en­try of re­cruits is an in­te­gral part of that. With this in mind, is there a way to some­how re­late per­son­nel changes with lev­els of suc­cess?

Over a four-year pe­riod span­ning 2007 to 2010, I lined up all the ros­ters of the eight UAAP squads and seven per­ma­nent NCAA mem­ber-schools and kept track of the num­ber of per­son­nel changes each team had go­ing into the fol­low­ing sea­son. Changes to PCU’s lineup in the one sea­son they re­turned (2008), as well as to the Arel­lano and EAC ros­ters the year af­ter their in­au­gu­ral sea­son, were also recorded. The term per­son­nel changes refers to new play­ers – re­cruits from the high school ranks, col­lege trans­fer­ees and pick-ups of Filipinos, part-Filipinos or for­eign­ers from abroad – in­serted into a lineup to re­place play­ers who played the pre­vi­ous year but are not en­listed by squads to com­pete the fol­low­ing sea­son for what­ever rea­son (i.e. grad­u­a­tion, rel­e­ga­tion to team B, trans­fer, etc.). I then com­piled the num­bers on a per sea­son ba­sis, be­gin­ning from the 2007 cam­paign up to last year, and got the four-year av­er­age per school. Along­side those fig­ures, I kept count of each team’s cor­re­spond­ing to­tal win-loss record in the four-year stretch.

Let’s take Ate­neo de Manila Univer­sity, for ex­am­ple. The Blue Ea­gles re­placed five play­ers from their 2006 team; four from the 2007 squad; four from the 2008 lineup and five from the 2009 ros­ter. Their four-year av­er­age is thus 4.5 lineup changes.

It’s in­ter­est­ing to note that the team that made the fewest num­ber of per­son­nel changes went on to cap­ture the UAAP ti­tle twice (Ate­neo in 2009 and 2010) in the four-year span. In the two other sea­sons, De La Salle, the 2007 UAAP cham­pi­ons, made five ros­ter changes from their 2005 squad (they were sus­pended in 2006), which was the third-least that year. The Blue Ea­gles, who won the ti­tle in 2008, made the sec­ond-least num­ber of per­son­nel changes that year (FEU had three).

Equally in­ter­est­ing is the fact that, over at the NCAA, the squad that copped the ti­tle wasn’t the team that made the least num­ber of per­son­nel moves in three of the past four years. San Beda Col­lege was the only team that won the ti­tle (2007) with the least num­ber of ros­ter al­ter­ations that same sea­son. But while the Red Lions made five lineup changes in 2007, so did four other teams. To drive home the point, San Se­bas­tian Col­lege-Reco­le­tos, the 2009 NCAA kings, had to re­place seven play­ers from their team the sea­son be­fore. Four more teams made less changes to their squads but still couldn’t win the ti­tle. In 2010, the Stags re­placed all but two play­ers while San Beda brought in six rook­ies. And we all know how the Red Lions rewrote the his­tory books that cam­paign.

In­di­vid­u­ally, UAAP and NCAA teams that made fewer changes to their line­ups dis­played a gen­er­ally higher win­ning per­cent­age in the four-year pe­riod than pro­grams that shuf­fled their per­son­nel more. In the UAAP, Ate­neo and UE, two of the three most suc­cess­ful squads from 2007-10 in terms of win-loss records, av­er­aged less than five per­son­nel changes a sea­son. Only FEU, which over­hauled its lineup af­ter the 2006 sea­son, tal­lied a high per­son­nel turnover rate along­side a win­ning record. At the other end of the spec­trum, the four teams with the worst four-year records reg­is­tered no fewer than al­most six changes a sea­son.

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