By Bill Tamburrino
The winter sports season is divided into two parts in the regular season. The first is the non-league and tournament part of the schedule, which runs through the Winter Break. There are different kinds of tournaments and different ways to schedule pre-league games.
First, let’s look at the tournaments. The late University of Southern California football coach, John McKay, said it best when he was the athletic director of the Trojans: “A basketball coach invites three teams he knows he can beat and calls it a classic.”
Now there are more names for weak tournaments. They can be called a shootout, classic, invitational, tournament, and a plethora of other names.
The difficulty of the tournament usually depends on who is throwing or sponsoring the “classic.” If a school is the sponsor, that usually means that the school is trying to make money and win in the process. The school will usually give itself a favorable berth in the bracket, or if it is a round robin or pool play tourney, that school will put itself in the shallowest of pools, the one that will ensure that its feet won’t get damp. If it is a bakery tourney then the host school will invite cupcakes that are very low on calories. The schools at bakery tourneys look around and realize that they are the dessert.
If a service club is hosting the tourney, then the brackets and divisions will be fairer. If perennial powers are invited from around the state and/or nation, then it is truly a classic or a shootout. If a shoe company is sponsoring the tourney, that means that a lot of kids will probably be playing as professionals and will go on to a successful one-year college career.
The second part of the regular season is league play. There was a time when league play was important in San Diego’s CIF section. At one time, a team’s league record was the criteria for getting into the CIF playoffs. That is still the case in most of the state and nation. However, since very few of the leagues in San Diego are equitable, we have a power rating system to determine post season play.
That power rating system has changed the way coaches schedule their pre-league games and tournaments.
Some coaches try to build toughness during pre-league play. Others try to build confidence. The good coaches try to build both.
A coach of a team that plans on going deep into the playoffs will schedule a tough pre-league slate to prepare his team for the pressure down the stretch. That same coach will also try to schedule tough non-tourney games. Ironically, if the team does well, that philosophy builds toughness and confidence. Many of Ramona’s nonleague games are mandated cross-league games in most sports.
A coach with an average to weak team will go to the bakery for his games and tournament. Wins don’t necessarily build confidence in the players but it does give false hope to the fans and parents.
The RHS wrestling team scheduled a very tough pre-league tournament and dual match schedule because coach Steve Koch knew that his toughest Valley League match would be the first match in league play. The Dawgs beat Valley Center and are now in the driver’s seat.
The girls basketball team will enter Valley League action with the best record (10-8) in pre-league play. The Lady Dawgs will be battling for a league title.
The boys basketball team is entering Valley League action with a 6-9 record. Three Valley League teams have better records, but the power ratings of Orange Glen’s wins are weak. The Dawgs have only played four teams with winning records so our power rating points are not going to be in our favor. Ramona should have a winning record in league action and should vie for a playoff berth after a two year absence.
Water polo has a 4-4 record and should be able to compete well in the Valley League. The Lady Bulldogs have a strong chance of making the playoffs.
The Bulldog boys soccer team is off to a great start and has played a tough schedule. Coach Michael Jordan’s Dawgs should compete for a league title and a spot in the playoffs.
The Bulldog girls soccer team has played a tough schedule and is searching for its first win. The Lady Dawgs are improving and should compete well in the Valley League.