September 30, 2012

Freshman Orientation: Georgia

Our NCAA teams have now moved out of the not remotely voluntary portion of the preseason and into the official practice portion. There will not be a great deal for them to report about their progress over the next month or two other than groundbreaking stories like "The team is coming together really well" and "We're excited about the season."

But for our purposes, it's time to start familiarizing ourselves with the freshman on each of the top teams so that we can have our utterly arbitrary opinions about how they will perform solidified and gathering mold well before the season begins. 

I'm starting with Georgia, where (in addition to being reliable workhorses in the all-around) the hardest job for incoming standouts Brandie Jay and Brittany Rogers will be finding a way to mitigate the loss of tenths on bars. Kat Ding and Gina Nuccio were bringing in 9.900s every week and showing their teammates what sticking looks like. Chelsea Davis will be expected to take on that Kat Ding responsibility this season, but both Jay and Rogers will need to prove worthy of late lineup positions to ensure there is not a major drop off from last season. Otherwise, they will be looking very 49.200 on an event where they will need 49.400s.

Brandie Jay





Jay has spent the last three years as one of those solid second-tier elites who lacked some precision and difficulty but who could excel in NCAA because she is talented, has a high skill level, and is relatively injury-free. She has the potential to be the gymnast they were hoping Tanella would be (9.875-y on multiple events).

Vault has been her signature event in the past, and even though it was weaker in 2012 than it had been before, she is capable of putting up a nice late-lineup Yurchenko 1.5 or full that could help make up for the loss of Ding.

Under the elite code, her execution scores were often low on the other events, but many of her major breaks were on skills she wouldn't have to perform in NCAA. There is certainly some leg and foot form in places that I will harp on, and she'll need to improve consistency on beam, but she could be a vital all-arounder. 

September 22, 2012

2013-2016 WAG Code of Points

There's so little going on in the collegiate realm since it's still September, so I can be forgiven for bouncing back to elite for the moment.

We have the offical Code for 2013-2016, so there is much to digest.

You can download it in the WAG section HERE if you don't have it yet.

Most of this is similar to the provisional code from earlier in the year, so I won't address most of that in detail, but there is also some interesting new stuff here that I will react to in no particular order after the jump:

September 15, 2012

Tenths above Replacement

Warning: Contains numbers.

Even though coaches don't like to talk explicitly about replacing routines because every team is different and every gymnast is a unique gemstone with her own personal sparkle blah, blah, blah, barf, finding the routines to replace scores that are no longer with the team can be a major struggle.

Some teams have more work to do than others. As a way of measuring the value of a gymnast that has graduated or retired, we can compare that gymnast's RQS to the score we would expect from an average replacement, a 7th-8th gymnast on a apparatus who competes in the event of an injury and keeps the team from falling apart. Certainly, that's going to vary for every team, and Alabama on vault will be expecting a much higher replacement score than Ohio State on beam.

Still, we can assume that on average most of the top teams will be looking at a replacement score of about 9.800. 9.800 is just OK for a team expecting to make Championships, and nearly all of these teams have 9.800s who were sitting on the bench last season.

So, in analyzing how much replacement work the top 12 teams from last year have to do, we can examine how much the average team score would decrease if we replaced the graduated/retired routines from 2012 (measured by RQS) with 9.800s. That is the tenths above replacement score. For example, if all the Ferguson, Stone, and Cindell routines from last year become 9.800s instead, Oklahoma's team score goes down an average of 0.700.

A few notes:
-Gymnasts are included if they made the final lineup for the team, be it in Super Six or Semifinals. That's why Cindell is here even though she likely wouldn't have competed if not for Nowak's injury. A healthy Nowak makes up some of that 0.700 right away.
-In cases where a gymnast competed on an event but the RQS was below replacement level (below 9.800), I did not include that routine in the statistics as it should be replaceable.
-In cases where a gymnast did not have an RQS because of injury but did contribute in the postseason, I used the postseason average instead. I also intervened in the case of Kyndal Robarts since her very low RQS was not representative of the fact that Utah will have to find a score to replace hers on floor. It's cheating, but it creates more realistic numbers. What can I say? I'm a rogue. Without that change, Utah's number would be 0.390, if you're interested.
-The numbers slightly underestimate the importance of the seniors for Ohio State, where 9.800s were more rare and valuable last season. The Buckeyes have some of the most replacing to do.

Tenths above Replacement:

1. Oklahoma - 0.700
Megan Ferguson - 0.380 (Bars: 9.910, Beam: 9.930, Floor: 9.940)
Sara Stone - 0.295 (Vault: 9.935, Beam: 9.875, Floor: 9.885)
Candace Cindell - 0.025 (Bars: 9.825)

September 8, 2012

2013 Composite NCAA Schedule

New look for the blog. Do we like it? I'm not sure yet. I think it's more readable than before but is also maybe a little template-y and sterile, like a blog about orthodontics where orthodontists can say, "Oh, don't you hate when braces do that?" We'll see how it goes.

It's September, which means the preseason is rearing its head all over the place. We're getting schedules and updated rosters and hearing the news that Cassie Whitcomb unsurprisingly took a medical retirement. At her strongest, Whitcomb had some ideal Mary Lee Tracy handstands (flat hips!), so when she couldn't hit any handstands in exhibition routines last season, it became clear that her chronic back injury would not allow her to compete at this level. As a result, Kaelie Baer appears to have received a magic year.

Most of the top teams have now released their 2013 schedules, and I have compiled them here to give us a single handy resource for planning and reference purposes. [Edit: All the top teams have now released their schedules, so let's give a round of applause.]

Georgia has a characteristically packed schedule, but this year it includes no weeks off during the regular season. The first weekend off will be the bye week between SECs and Regionals. That always makes me nervous. Durante will have to be farsighted in her lineup strategy to protect against injury, especially with her frail elites like Worley and Davis. 

Stanford once again is barely competing. Last season, the Cardinal didn't even register on the quality radar until Pac-12s and didn't even settle on final lineups until the day of Super Six, but maybe there's something to that. The team peaked at the right time, that's for sure.  

The SEC teams always have the most difficult schedules out of conference necessity, but Georgia and Alabama stand out this season as having the most challenging roads. The only potentially soft meets for either of those teams are the conference meets against Kentucky and Missouri (as well as Georgia's meet against NC State).

2013 NCAA Schedule
Week 1 – January 4-6

Friday, January 4
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Ball State @ Florida
8:00 ET/5:00 PT – NC State @ LSU
10:00 ET/7:00 PT – Stanford, Sacramento St., UC Davis @ San Jose State
TBA – Cancun Invitational (Oregon State, Michigan, BYU)

Saturday, January 5
4:00 ET/1:00 PT – Oklahoma @ Georgia
6:00 ET/3:00 PT – Penn State @ Denver
TBA – Ohio State @ Bowling Green

Sunday, January 6
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Southern Utah @ UCLA