The only thing more plentiful than acn24's usernames (he also goes by anadeau24, baseballer77, options, options2, options3, options4 and options5) are his championships. With 20 National Tournament titles to his credit, acn24 ranks among the most successful coaches in Hoops Dynasty. We tap into acn24's wisdom and seek advice from the college basketball whiz.
acn24 Hoops Dynasty Overall Records - All Usernames
|Game||Seasons||Record||Conf. Chmp.||NT Chmp.|
|Hoops Dynasty||605||13,270-5,090 (.723)||266||20|
acn24 Hoops Dynasty Active Teams - All Usernames
|World||Current School||Overall Record||Conf. Record||NT Record||NT Chmp.|
|Wooden||Geo. Washington||593-303 (.662)||311-169 (.648)||23-17 (.575)||0|
|Smith||Henderson St.||802-256 (.758)||449-97 (.822)||40-26 (.606)||1|
|Allen||Duke||1,328-574 (.698)||626-355 (.638)||110-46 (.705)||2|
|Crum||Indiana||1,170-524 (.691)||622-274 (.694)||42-35 (.545)||2|
|Tarkanian||UCLA||2,052-555 (.787)||1,078-234 (.822)||176-67 (.724)||7|
|Phelan||Goucher||151-60 (.716)||90-22 (.804)||2-4 (.333)||2|
|Naismith||Bryant||1,478-429 (.775)||805-171 (.825)||114-49 (.699)||2|
|Iba||Wake Forest||989-203 (.742)||560-128 (.814)||54-30 (.643)||2|
|Phelan||Regis||283-139 (.671)||150-74 (.670)||11-9 (.550)||0|
|Rupp||Marshall||897-403 (.690)||444-244 (.645)||34-28 (.548)||2|
WIS: Who is acn24?
acn24: I am a 37 year old federal employee, overseeing government contractors. I'm originally from ME, moved to DC for graduate school, and now live outside of Baltimore with my wife, daughter, 2 dogs, and 1 cat.
WIS: You've competed under a variety of usernames. Why so many handles?
acn24: It took me a while to start playing HD once I joined the site. I originally created the multiple user names to run multiple iterations of Sim Baseball ideas in spring training leagues. When I started playing HD, there was definitely some utilization of reduced price seasons, and I used some IDs for experimentation. Ultimately I was using them to cherry pick great conferences; I really enjoyed being in the Allen ACC and the Allen Gulf South when they were the strongest DI and DII conferences in HD.
WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?
acn24: I started playing Sim Baseball after clicking on a link on MLB.com. I played exclusively that for a year or so before dipping my toe into HD.
WIS: What are some of your interests and hobbies?
acn24: Like most people here I'm a big sports fan, I focus mostly on major league baseball, hockey, college basketball and soccer (mostly European leagues and the US National teams). Beyond sports I love traveling, cooking, and eating, my wife got me a Big Green Egg last year, and that has started to serve as a gateway into BBQ. It is nice that those can intersect too - when my wife and I went to Asheville, NC, we made sure to eat at Curate; when we planned a trip to Nashville I made sure to get reservations at Husk.
Being a father is really my favorite activity at this point. It isn't something that can qualify as an interest or hobby - it is just what you do. It is great watching my daughter getting excited about things and sharing that with her, you can't ever remember being as excited as a kid is when they do something.
WIS: Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?
acn24: This is a tough question, because there are so many different ways to approach it. I think ultimately you look for people who are well rounded, and have many different interests and can speak about many different topics.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain - Professor of rhetoric, college president, Governor of Maine, hero at the battle of Gettysburg, and commander of Union forces during Robert E. Lee's surrender ceremony at Appomattox Court House. Also was born on the other side of the Penobscot River from me, albeit 150 years earlier.
James Madison - Drafter of the Constitution, author of the Bill of Rights, Secretary of State and President. I feel he is an underrated founding father and I think it would be fascinating to hear discussions about the drafting of the Constitution, working with Hamilton and Jay on the Federalist Papers and the delicate nature of the ratification process.
Leonardo da Vinci - The utmost representation of the Renaissance Man? He was so curious about the world around him it would be fascinating to have him at this round table, but also to spend time following him around the modern world and see his reaction to what he would find.
Anthony Bourdain - Perhaps an obvious choice (During orientation at a new job one of the questions in the icebreaking exercise was 'Who in the world would you love to trade places with?' and some 20-30 people in the room chose Bourdain), but his experiences traveling would be fascinating to listen to, and I think he would also interact very well with the others at the table. As a bonus, he could have one of his chef buddies cater.
Mike Krzyzewski - He obviously brings tremendous accomplishments in his field, but like Bourdain I think would be very open to listening and exchanging ideas with others at the table. As a Duke fan myself, I would have to try and not slide into fanboy questioning. (Do you remember when Laettner hit that jumper? Yeah, that was awesome.)
WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?
acn24: I played the most baseball, especially in the summer. Our Babe Ruth league coach was very active and we had games in 16 & under and 17 & under leagues, so we had games almost every day. He would score every game and would give you stats. One summer he scheduled games against teams on Prince Edward Island, so the team and our parents drove up there and camped and played baseball. I also played basketball into high school and pickup football. I was never athletic or talented enough to be really good, but I understood the games very well and was realistic about what I could and couldn't do, so I was never a liability.
WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?
acn24: All of the Duke greats from the Hurley/Hill/Laettner teams on. I think the '99 team was the best team that I have seen during my time really watching college basketball, I was shocked that they never could get on a run against UConn in the title game.
I grew up in Maine and went to the University of Maine, so the 1992-93 Black Bear hockey team stands out, especially Jim Montgomery and Paul Kariya, and I knew a bunch of the guys on the 99 championship team from being in classes with them.
In baseball I have a bunch, I loved the ability and confidence of those mid-80s Mets teams, so I remember Gooden, Strawberry, Dykstra, etc. In the late-80s I started playing in a Strat-O-Matic keeper league with my dad and some family friends, so I got out of cheering for a specific baseball team and started rooting for my players, both the standouts, and hall of famers on my team like Ken Griffey, Jr., Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, and Mariano Rivera, but others who had their moments like Chuck Knoblauch or Kevin Mitchell.
WIS: Do you have any sports-related items on your bucket list that you have not yet done?
acn24: A bunch actually! Probably the only two things I've crossed off are a UNC/Duke game at Cameron Indoor Stadium (2006, JJ Reddick's last home game) and watching a championship game (1999 Frozen Four in Anaheim, CA). Remaining high on my list are a World Series game at Camden Yards, an Arsenal match at Emirates, a Barcelona match at Camp Nou, and the Kentucky Derby (or maybe I just want an excuse to travel and drink bourbon for an entire weekend). I'd also love to get a family photo with the Stanley Cup.
WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?
acn24: That is really tough, I've had a bunch that could qualify, my 1st NT title (Bellarmine in Crum), my NT at UMaine (Allen, Season 29), finally winning an NT at Duke (Allen, Season 68), or the only time I've won back-to-back titles (Bryant in Naismith, Seasons 52-53), but I think going 35-0 at Manhattan in Tark, season 15 is my favorite. It is just so hard to go undefeated through an entire season, it is one thing to have dominant teams and to win titles, but that undefeated season, especially at DI (and at a lower DI, although that was before recruit generation skewed things to the Big 6 teams and the elite programs were just starting to get filled in Tark, so not as tough as doing it today would be).
WIS: In the Allen world, you're in the midst of your 44th season as the coach of Duke. You've led the Blue Devils to 36 consecutive national tournaments, one championship, two runner-up finishes and seven finishes in the Final Four. Has your strategy evolved during your time at Duke? Is it your most successful coaching tenure?
acn24: My strategy has changed quite a bit. When I started there the ACC was a strong conference, but it wasn't the monster conference it would become. As it got stronger and stronger I dropped really challenging out of conference games, there were seasons where the worst team in conference would still make the PI Final Four. Teams that finished 5-11 in conference would end up 12 seeds but have stronger squads than the 5 seed they were playing in the first round. It became imperative to bank those 10 wins out of conference. And having all 12 teams winning 8+ games would help our RPIs tremendously - there is a reason that on the list of best conference RPIs the Allen ACC has like the top 15 in DI. We never had a perfect OOC, but did hit 119-1 once. OOC scheduling needs to be reflective of both your team and your conference. Coaches need to determine if they need quality wins in OOC, or just need wins.
The success of the conference and the postseason money that came with that really allowed recruiting strategy to change too. It is a bit ironic that top tier DI recruiting is more localized that recruiting in any of the other 3 levels (BCS and everyone else are definitely different games, and if somebody wanted to argue that you could split DI into Elites, Low BCS, everyone else I probably wouldn't fight them too much), but Allen ACC had so much money that we could expand our territory tremendously. Personally at Duke I've had 4 or 5 star recruits from RI, NY, IN, IL, TN, OH, MS, LA, FL, MI and TX, and other teams have had similar success.
My recruiting also changed being around such a strong group of coaches, I had to become much more analytic. Recruiting is a bit like poker and a bit straight math. I would say that if you're a strong recruiter in the high end of DI, you should know your budget and needs, but also the budget and needs of most of the other teams in your area as well as any tendencies coaches have as recruiters. You should be able to predict the outcome of a battle correctly at least 90% of the time, or more.
My run at Duke has been strong, but my second tenure at UCLA in Tark has been stronger. I've been there over half of Tark now, from season 48 (now recruiting in season 95), during these 47 seasons I've made the postseason every year, including 46 NTs (only 3 1st round losses - although one of those was in a 1/16 match up, which really hurts) and have 6 titles, 4 championship game losses (including 3 in the last 8 seasons) and 7 other Final Fours.
WIS: What factors do you consider when applying for a new team?
acn24: The answer to this really depends on what I'm looking for. If it is going to be a job where I settle down for a long time, the number and quality of the other coaches is really paramount. In terms of DI jobs, baseline prestige is a significant factor. It is a small thing, but I also like schools in an area I'm familiar with. It doesn't trump the first considerations, but other things being equal I'll take a team in New England or the Mid-Atlantic over one in the midwest or southeast. If it is just a stepping stone job, then I'm looking for the most returning talent and don't really care about the demographics of the conference. Sometimes a bunch of sims is even an asset here, making it easier to get NT bids to pad the resume.
WIS: Do you prefer to have scholarships evenly distributed among classes or weighted heavily toward one or two classes?
acn24: As with the previous question, this depends. If I'm trying to move quickly, heavily weighted classes can help you make deeper runs, especially if you're in a sim conference where you have a pretty good shot at NTs when your big classes are young. If I'm going to be at the school for a while, I definitely prefer having relatively even classes.
WIS: What is your strategy for scheduling nonconference opponents?
acn24: I touched on this earlier, but it is really a team-by-team decision of what that team needs. With UCLA I play home and home series with some of the other elite programs in the world. I've also done that with some of my DII dynasties. At Duke and Indiana I generally schedule for OOC wins, conference play will take care of opportunities for signature wins. And even when scheduling for wins, I try to be careful and identify teams that should be solid, but I should be able to beat. I don't want to have an OOC slate that combines for 25 wins between the 10 teams.
WIS: What is your strategy for recruiting? Do you utilize any recruiting tools? Do you use a certain mix of phone calls, campus visits, etc. to acquire targets?
acn24: Information is the biggest thing in recruiting. Knowing what you have and what other teams have, in terms of needs and budget. Know the tendencies of others - which coaches are happy taking multiple walk-ons in order to land their primary choices? Who doesn't have rollover? Which coaches overextend themselves regularly? Also, stay on top of things. I've lost a battle that I had no business losing, simply because I assumed I was safe and didn't check in for a day. Especially at DI I'll have a huge watch list and I'll keep checking players and the teams they're considering - as battles develop other recruits can become vulnerable. I always tell myself to not get locked into a player, and know when to walk away (and if I'm going to walk away, I'll do it immediately), but sometimes I'll forget. And sometimes you've got to take a swing. Even if you know you'll lose the battle unless you get help - either the other coach doesn't recruit optimally, they get involved in other battles, etc, sometimes spending $75k and losing is better than signing a 4 year backup.
In terms of the mechanics, there are definitely optimal ways to use the visits; everyone has their point where they switch from HV to CV - if you don't, a forum search should bring up some discussion on the topic, I'm not going to specify where that line is for me. Scouting trips are essential at lower levels to determine what areas are High-High potential, and which are just High. I hardly ever use them at high DI schools, that information just isn't as crucial there.
WIS: Do you prefer some offenses, defenses or team game plan settings over others?
acn24: I've won with Motion, Flex and Triangle offenses and Man and Press defenses. I've recently started playing around with fastbreak on a couple of my teams. One team has been running zone, but I find that zone produces some absolute clunkers, and I'll be transitioning away from it with my next recruiting class. I do think that the offensive sets are pretty discrete in terms of what they do and what they favor. I think motion and triangle are probably my favorite for what they do; and I tend to not recruit specifically for a set, I'd rather sign the best players I can, and then work the distro and positions after the fact - ultimately talent and IQ trumps exactly what you're running.
I tend to play a bit more + defense, HD is generally skewed toward perimeter players, and guards and wings tend to be the best scoring options for most teams. I rarely play extreme +/-, although I have if I thought the opponent warranted it.
WIS: Do you have any favorite players from any of your HD teams?
acn24: I have a bunch actually. Melvin Wooten on Hampden-Sydney in Allen was a stud that I happened to stumble into with my very first recruiting class.
The starting lineup of my NT team at Maine all stands out, they were all drafted after that season (and 4 of the 5 backups on that team ended up being 1st team preseason All-Americans the following season: http://www.collegiateinsider.com/wcaab/headline.asp?article=W6_S30_preaa) - but especially Norman Weber - he was the #5 PG and Top-30 overall that I lucked into - he was about 60 miles from campus and the #3 and #4 PGs were also in New England. That was pre-potential, so the rest of that team had been players with solid ratings and high WE, but Norman was the star.
Ryan Hubbard and Ruben Milligan were the first recruits that really started me thinking about extending my recruiting reach in Allen, they were in Buffalo and NYC and I beat Syracuse for both.
Donald Pierce only played one season at UCLA, but I wish I had saved his ratings and potentials - his ratings were amazing as a FR, but even if he had stayed one more season he would have had perhaps the best collection of ratings I've ever seen, he would have been 95+ in ATH/SPD/DEF/PER, 85+ LP, BH, PA and 75-80 REB. One of the few players I'd consider starting at any position.
James Brown at Georgetown in Crum was my first National Player of the Year at any level, and is also the only player I've ever had score 2000+ points.
My favorite was a player I didn't recruit though, when I moved to St. Joe's in Crum I had the honor of coaching Fredrick Mercurio, who did have the talent to play SF one season, before returning to a natural PF position and being drafted #9 overall his senior season. But the mustache makes him the legend he is.
WIS: How much time do you spend on your Hoops Dynasty teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?
acn24: I spend a good deal of time during recruiting, but I can usually gameplan for all my teams in about 20-25 minutes a day. I do spend more time gameplanning for postseason games than regular season, and depending on time, won't worry about it if I think my team is definitely better than my opponent. This has probably cost me a win or two over the years, but it is what it is.
WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?
acn24: Not to ask me for advice until they're in Division II, because I suck at DIII. Beyond that, I think emphasizing information during recruiting and focusing on core ratings for the position they plan on using the player at.
Also to take the forums with a grain of salt. There is some really valuable information there, but it can be overwhelming as a new user to get 5+ opinions on the same topic, and as with any internet message board there is a good bit of waste, although WIS does a pretty good job of keeping that under control.
WIS: What is your favorite aspect of Hoops Dynasty?
acn24: I love the camaraderie that develops in full conferences over long periods of time and the strategic elements of recruiting, both in terms of looking at your team and what you need to target for this season, and then 2-3 seasons down the road, and then looking at the recruiting landscape for that season and plotting who you could realistically get.
WIS: Least favorite?
acn24: The guard heavy nature of offense in the game. I just had a season in Phelan DII where I had one great post scorer and one great perimeter scorer. To get them in same ballpark in terms of shot attempts I had to emphasize the post player by 50-75% in terms of my distribution.
WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?
acn24: There are a bunch of things that I think need addressing, but I think number one for me is DI recruiting. This takes a couple of angles - the recruit generation that made the elite recruits so much better than everyone else has been fantastic for coaches at elite schools. I understand the impetus behind the change - there were too many teams with players who had ratings in the 90s. Unfortunately that hasn't changed a lot - championship teams still have players with core ratings 85 and up, it is just now there are maybe 7-12 who have the rating and IQ combination to be a championship contender, rather than 20 or so. This has also made the levels harden, I think it is much harder to bring a low-DI team into a team that had a decent shot at a win or two in the NT or to turn a bottom feeder BCS team into a championship contender than it used to be. I know it can be done, and people are doing it; but it is much more difficult than it was pre-recruit generation change.
I don't know why IQ doesn't have potential and more variation in growth. There should definitely be kids who top out at a B, and others who can hit A+ by the end of their second season.
I would like to see promises mean a lot more in DI recruiting. Right now it is too easy to spend enough to counteract the impact of promises, but I think an elite recruit would definitely go at a B+ prestige school where they could start and play 20 minutes, rather than to an A+ school where they may play less than 100 minutes total. Obviously, if you made promises significantly more important, you'd have to make sticking to them significantly more important and the penalties for not fulfilling them significantly harsher.
I'd love to tie the importance of promises to recruits having more of a desire for immediate playing time. As mentioned, I think it is crazy that an elite recruit is fine with literally never seeing game time as a FR. I think each recruit should have expectations, at a sliding scale, to start considering a school. A 5-star might need a 10 mpg promise from an A+ Duke, but might need a start promise from B+ Wake Forest, but would require start + 25 mpg promise from C+ Charlotte. Prestige and effort would still count from there on, but it might allow some elite talent to trickle down, if the A+ schools would have to find PT for everyone.
WIS: Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?
acn24: There are a ton of great coaches I respect and enjoy coaching against, so I'm sure I'm going to leave somebody out. If I do, I apologize. Girt25 is one of the coaches I've played against the most and definitely the coach I've learned the most from. Some of the Tark coaches I play every year, like Mamidu, blapo21, johnsensing, sublighted, and oldresorter; plus a special note for grecianfox, who got to Stanford before I got to UCLA the first time, and has been there throughout both my terms with the Bruins. I've almost certainly coached more against him than any other coach. When talking Tark I should also mention gillispie1, I know that he rubs some coaches the wrong way, but I've never had any issues with him and you have to respect his passion for the game. I've had long rivalries in several different worlds with reinsel, cornfused, barretchap, alblack56, chief2677, emy1013, aromano, oldman, elmossle, jbasnight, cyben5150, and oldwarrior. Special notes to some of the other Allen ACC coaches, past and present, who have made that league the gold standard for HD - aporter, kyle_lee7, kelby_03, viperhoops, brikeisco, hoosierchap, umpikes, wang35, and fmschwab and the Rupp CUSA group that girt got together - zags27, tianyi7886, aejones, weena, jamespastine, romi22513, and even though he left and broke girt's heart, dacj501.
WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?
acn24: Since this is an HD interview, I'll profile myself as a DIII PG, somewhere in the range of:
- ATH: 25
- SPD: 35
- REB: 10
- DEF: 65
- SB: 5
- LP: 20
- PER: 20
- BH: 65
- PA: 65
- WE: 80
- ST: 75
- DU: 95
- FT: A
- IQ: A
I wouldn't be the worst SIM recruited PG you've seen, but you certainly wouldn't win a lot if I had to play big minutes.
WIS: We thank to acn24 for sharing with WhatIfSports.com and the HD community.