Staying cautiously optimistic, Washington state high school basketball coaches seem to think the WIAA’s latest Rating Percentage Index (RPI) system could be the long-term solution on how to seed state tournaments.
If the goal is to make sure the top teams in each classification have the clearest path to the state title game, then the RPI worked out pretty well in its first full season.
Five No. 1 teams in the RPI — Union (4A), Nathan Hale (3A), Freeman (1A) and Kittitas (2B) 0n the boys side, and Bishop Blanchet (3A) and Cashmere (1A) on the girls side — advanced to their respective championship contests Saturday night.
“It is a step in the right direction,” Lincoln boys coach Aubrey Shelton said. “I do like the idea of RPI and not holding some random (tournament) draw out of a hat.”
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But both parties — the WIAA and the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association (WIBCA) — agree the new system is in line to be tweaked before next season.
At the top of the list in areas of concern? How to factor district playoff games into the final RPI rankings.
“The postseason piece of it is a little more complicated because all of the district tournaments are different,” said Pat McCarthy, a WIAA executive board member, and member of the RPI committee. “Some have relatively few games. Some districts have a lot of games. How do you equate all of that?”
Along those lines, equally important to the coaches is making sure teams from the same league do not meet up in the regional round.
Another key component is factoring out-of-state games into the RPI equation. McCarthy said the starting point to fix that issue starts with data entry of those games.
And the final primary area of concern could be a sticky one: Dividing up the percentage points of how to compute the RPI itself.
Currently, half of a team’s RPI is made up of an opponent’s win-loss record. The other half is split up evenly between a team’s own win-loss record (25 percent) and the opponent’s opponents’ win-loss record (25 percent).
“That means 75 percent of your RPI rating is based on somebody else,” Bellarmine Prep girls coach Kevin Meines said. “That has to flip the other way, or at the very least, you should have 50 percent of the control.”
The own-control percentage of the RPI likely won’t ever be an even divide, just so teams won’t be rewarded by scheduling non-conference cupcakes.
Shelton said most coaches would be content if it was between 35-40 percent, however.
Snohomish girls coach Ken Roberts is also on the RPI committee, which is expected to meet next week to discuss the future of the format.
“The old WIAA (state-draw) system was great, but it just couldn’t handle upsets at districts,” Roberts said. “So we might have to look at a combination of things.
“Everybody wants the same thing: The WIAA wants to have the state tournament be better. The coaches want the state tournament to be better, as far as seeding. I don’t think it was a bad state tournament this year … but some things have to get fixed.”
McCarthy agrees: “There are a lot of positives there, and we will make it better and better.
“I expect some improvements to be made (for 2017-18).”