Last week we looked at the effect of losing a (perenially winless) CIS basketball team, but coming up in 2012-13 Canada West will add their second and third new teams in two years in the Mount Royal Cougars and UNBC Timberwolves.

The first of those new teams were the UBC Okanagan Heat, a team I thought would go about 5-17 (assuming a 22-game schedule against average Canada West competition), or .227; they actually finished 3-15 (.167) — one win below the .227 mark. They scored 74.6 and allowed 67.9 per game in their last PACWEST year (+6.7). But that positive differential was far on the horizon in 2011-12, with Okanagan scoring just 62.1 per game and allowing 81.4 (-19.3) in league play against a slightly-above-average schedule. A very rough estimate, then, is that a team's offence and defence will each get about 15-20% worse following a shift to CIS. For the men's teams, anyway (we don't have women's basketball statistics at the B.C. college level).

The CCAA-to-CIS translations we use here have always assumed that the player making the jump is placed on an average team with average CIS players, though this is obviously not the case with expansion teams like the Heat. The entire team is new, basically. And the year-to-year performance of those Heat players who participated in PACWEST in 2010-11 and CIS in 2011-12 is instructive in helping us figure out what to expect from an entire team of players making that leap to CIS play.

Not everyone who played for UBCO in 2010-11 did so in 2011-12, though. Five players (Steve Morrison, Ed Dane Medi, Simon Pelland, Mack Roth, and Iain Con) made that transition together, and here are their combined stats in both years:


(RSB/40 is rebounds, blocks, and steals per 40 minutes.)

Pretty much every stat changes as we'd expect it to change, but the differences are almost too extreme in some cases: points drop almost by half, for example. We also see assists fall, turnovers climb, and that rebounds, blocks, and steals are all harder to come by in CIS. (We use similar adjustments to players' stats when translating CCAA stats to CIS, based not just on these players but on all who have played at one level one year and the next level in the next year.)

What's interesting is that usage dropped. These are experienced players (at least one year prior to the CIS year) and they took 30% of the Heat's possessions before the jump, but less than 20% after? Doesn't seem right. It turns out this can be explained by the addition of Yassine Ghomari, who led the team in minutes, points, and usage rate (32.1%, fourth in CIS among players with at least 300 minutes played), and had a fair amount of experience before '11-12. It's probably not the case that a team's core will lose 50% of their possessions from one year to the next.

If we assume usage stays constant, that would mean increasing all the per-40 numbers above by half (from 20% to 30% usage, roughly). The per-40 numbers would then be more in line with what we'd expect: points at 19.2, not 12.8; assists at 2.0, not 1.3; and RSB/40 at 14.0, not 9.3. The predicted drop in points, 21% (from 24.4 to 19.2), agrees with the overall team drop experienced by UBCO (17%), so for lack of a better estimate we can stick with the 20% number for now.

We can't yet predict the MRU or UNBC numbers since we don't yet know which players will make the jump: if they bring their better players, we'd obviously expect them to have an easier time than if they had to rebuild.

When we do know (later this fall) who's sticking around, we'll have a post looking at the Cougars and Timberwolves' expected numbers, but for now we can come up with a very early guess at their 2012-13 points scored and allowed, and by extension their expected wins and losses. These teams both had better years before their CIS jump than Okanagan did, and consequently they should have a better record, not knowing anything else yet about the teams.

  • UNBC scored 87.5 and allowed 69.2 last year. Taking 20% away from each, that becomes 70.0 and 83.0 at the CIS level, or a .327 winning percentage. In 22 games, they'd have a record of about 7-15.

  • MRU, who scored and allowed 85.8 and 64.5, albeit in a different league, would be expected to score and allow 68.6 and 77.4, or about an 8-14 record.

We'll have a more sophisticated analysis of these two teams closer to the beginning of the Canada West season, but for now they both project as below-.500 teams. Probably not that surprising, really.
The first round of voting is complete in our 2012 CIS Name of the Year tournament. Below is the updated bracket (click to enlarge), and you can vote on the right-hand sidebar for your favourite names. Round 2 voting will be open for a week.

(Spoiler: not much.)

With RMC's announcement to move its basketball programs out of CIS, one can wonder what it will mean to not have them around anymore. Say, if we removed all of those games from the rankings.

Most of those games last year turned out the same — the Paladins lost poorly — so we'd probably guess that the team overall had no effect. Is that actually true, though?

Well, yes. Yes it is. But read on anyway.

Removing RMC's games does the following to the men's rankings:

  • The nature of SRS means those points that they were below average need to be accounted for somewhere. So if we take away their -34.4, for example, from the totals, then all the other teams need to lose 34.4 to make it all balance out in the end. And most teams did lose a small amount off their SRS measure.

    In fact, a very small amount. Acadia, Ryerson, Dalhousie, and York were the only ones to lose more than two points per game, but two points in CIS basketball is equivalent to less than 3% of a win per game. These teams played 29 non-RMC games on average, so that's 0.8 of a win over the entire season. Basically, not getting to beat up on RMC made these teams lose not only the wins in those games, but also nearly an extra win on top of that because their point differential wasn't as high as it was before. (RMC lost every non-Queen's game by at least 38 points, and on average by 56.) There's not much of a trend to who loses SRS points: Acadia won by 88, the highest of any RMC game, and Queen's won by 31 and 16, the two lowest.

  • With RPI it's the same idea, even with ignoring the score, but it affects different teams. York, Western, Waterloo, and Queen's lose the most off their RPI (12 points on average) but it's not like they were all that high to begin with. Those four teams were, respectively, 39th, 36th, 38th, and 42nd out of 43 teams before removing RMC.

  • The highest team in RPI whose ranking is affected by the RMC removal is Laurier (12 down to 13) and the highest in SRS is Acadia (9 to 11) as noted above. In WLU's case, though, the change isn't significant.

And on the women's side:

  • It's Waterloo who would suffer the most, but still not by much: 13 points of RPI and 1.2 points of SRS, in both cases either moving them from 41st or 42nd to last place.

  • None of the top 12 in SRS, or top 13 in RPI, change positions in the rankings without RMC.

Overall, hardly anyone is affected significantly, and the teams at the top don't even notice a difference. It would seem that RMC did not matter at all to CIS basketball last year. (There are few other ways to interpret such a season, honestly.) So their departure is, for everyone else, pretty much a non-event.
Were money less of an object, there would be a solution for what OUA basketball will look like once it's a sweet 16 again in 2013.

History, not geography, ought to guide how the OUA is aligned come 2013 when the Algoma Thunderbirds essentially take the spot in the league that the RMC Paladins' vacated last week. There probably is no perfect way to fit in the northern 'Birds. Instead of having a team in Kingston whose campus is jogging distance from another team in Kingston, the OUA now has a team in Sault Ste. Marie. The Soo is a four-hour drive from the nearest OUA basketball-playing school, Laurentian, and about a 10-hour drive from most OUA West schools. To Ontario people, that's a huge jaunt. (Cue Cam Charron laughing.)

At the risk of wading into "what, the renovating the restaurant you don't own part, or spending the 200 million you don't have part" territory, the solution seems fairly obvious. The Thunderbirds should play in the East division, presuming the OUA is married to its two-division, 22-game format.

The alternative is that one of the West division teams, perhaps Guelph since it's near Highway 401 and is relatively close to the GTA, shifts to the East. At the same time, the Gryphons would be giving up long-running rivalries with other Southern Ontario schools. Why should a team of several decades' standing have to sacrifice to make room for the new kids on the block? It would be the same story if the McMaster Marauders were the ones to shift to the East.

Please keep in mind the OUA West was essentially a distinct league until it began crossing over with the East in 2001-02. Up until then, the divisions only came together for the Wilson Cup. The West schools have also been more traditionally minded/reluctant to change; by and large they were later to get on board with having cross-over semifinals for the OUA Final Four. One can imagine there might be some heel-digging over who has to switch to "the Carleton division." Putting Algoma in the East might sidestep some of the politics.

There's more to this than preserving tradition. Making sure teams don't have to travel excessively should be high-priority in university sport, whose stated aim is make sure student-athletes graduate with stellar marks.

Porter Airlines services the Soo and Sudbury. It obviously flies from Ottawa and Toronto, which takes care of the six teams in eastern and southern Ontario. The point is the obvious. Algoma probably should go in the OUA East and have the same arrangement Lakehead does in the West, where it plays two-game series every weekend, starting with the first week back in January. Fly in (or out) on Friday, fly home Sunday morning or afternoon. That might be better for the players than trying to sleep on a bus and than having to study on Sunday while they're mentally run down. The OUA West schools also get the long trip out of the way in November, before winter driving conditions take hold. (In my imagination if nothing else, teams would have to do a Sudbury-Sault Ste. Marie roadie; Queen's and York make better sense as travel partners since both schools are close to the 401.)

At the very least, the OUA has a year to cost this out and see if it makes sense. If it's a no-go, then someone in the West has to the bite the bullet next season. It's just seems worth seeing if there's a cost-effective way that keeps rivalries intact and perhaps encourages a new one between Algoma and Laurentian in the near north.
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