By Tim Collins – Publisher
About 20 years ago I tried my hand at coaching a kids basketball team at a local YMCA. It was one of the more humiliating experiences, as far as the success of our team was concerned, but it was still a lot of fun. Not being one to give up easily, and being a fan of college basketball, I recently came across an online game called “Hoops Dynasty”, which I really enjoy.
The game is located at www.whatifsports.com. This site also hosts a number of other games including a college football game called Gridiron Dynasty, which I also enjoy. In addition, there are simulation games for baseball, clutch racing, and soccer, as well as professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey. If you are a sports fan, you should check out this site.
Since it’s March, and the height of the college basketball season, I thought I would describe “Hoops Dynasty” in greater detail.
This game involves tons of strategy and “coaching decisions”, and you compete against hundreds of other “real” people that are coaching different teams. The games are simulated, with one game a day on the schedule. After the game, you can read the play by play and box scores, and there are tons of statistics you can look at if you wish.
The first step is to choose the team you want to coach. Every college is represented, but some already have coaches. Since you are a new coach, you have to start out coaching a Division 3 team. I chose Oglethorpe University, since it is here in the Atlanta area. Once you prove yourself at Division 3, you can apply for jobs at Division 2 schools, and once you succeed for several seasons there, you can apply for a Division 1 team, like Georgia or Georgia Tech. When deciding on a team, you can see the team’s record, what kind of offense and defense they have been running (you can change this once you coach them), the prestige of the program, and how big of a home court advantage the team has. You can also see how many scholarships will be available in the coming year, due to departing seniors.
Recruiting is my favorite part of the game. You search for high school players, and it shows their skill levels in a number of categories, like speed, athleticism, rebounding, ball handling, passing, defense, work ethic, perimeter shooting, free throw shooting, etc. One neat feature is that the recruit profile page shows the high school the players are coming out of. I am trying to recruit a player this year that is coming out of Landmark Christian High School in Fairburn. You can recruit anywhere in the country, but if you try to recruit far away you may run out of money and have to accept a walk-on. Trying to visit a player in California is a whole lot more expensive for me than visiting one in Birmingham for obvious reasons. You can recruit using a phone call, letter, scouting trip, home visit, campus visit, promised minutes, promised start as a freshman, etc., and each has a different cost. With scouting trips your assistant coach will tell you areas he expects to see the player improve in. You can also pay “Future Stars Scouting Service”, which gives you information about every player in whatever state you pay for.
Once you have your team, you set your depth chart at each position, decide how much time you want each player to practice certain drills, like passing, rebounding, and conditioning. You have to include some study hall minutes, or your player may fail and become academically ineligible (this happened to one of my players). Once the season starts, you decide on a game plan, and which of your own players you would like to be involved the most in the plays. Much of this is based on “scouting” your opponent by looking at his team and seeing its strengths and weaknesses. You also schedule games for next season.
There are so many facets and variables to this game, and what makes it particularly interesting to me is that the developers are very secretive about how it is programmed, so no one really knows the “perfect” strategy. The result is that there are a number of successful coaches that use different strategies, which is kind of like it is in real life.
A season costs a maximum of $12.95, but I have found that the cost is always less than this, because you get some credits depending on how well your team does, and even if a team in your conference goes to the post season. It takes about 45 days to go through an entire season, including the job change period, recruiting phase, non-conference, and conference schedules, conference tournaments, and national tournament if you earn a spot in it. There is a special on the website for a first season for $4.95, so it’s not a huge investment to give it a try. I get 15 – 30 minutes a day of enjoyment out of it. Not that much time is “required”, but I tend to tweak my team and my lineup a lot, and I do spend a decent amount of time looking at possible recruits for the upcoming season.
If you decide to give it a try, there are a number of “worlds” but if you would like to be in the one I am in, reserve a team in the “Smith” world. If you join, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can schedule a game.