Are you ready for meets? In two days, you'll need to be all about it because there are a bunch. Tomorrow, I'll do the rundown of the weekend to get prepared, but for now, I've been thinking about the first meet of the season and how much it can tell us about what will happen at the end of the season. Rare is the team that ends up using the score from the first meet for RQS, but I was curious about lineups. We sometimes see lineups at the beginning of the season that seem awfully weaker than what we would hope to see in April, but how much change is there really? And are some teams more likely to change around the lineups than others?
I took the current top 10 teams, and over the last five years, compared the lineups from the first meet to the lineups from the last meet to see what proportion of routines from that first meet were still in the lineup at the end of the season. Here we go. (Championship seasons in bold.)
I added the ranking positions to the list because rankings make things more exciting, but there's not necessarily a good or a bad to this list, a winner or a loser. It's just what is. In fact, the teams that have won championships in this span are all on the lower half with less lineup retention, so is that the better end? Of course, a lot depends on whether lineups have changed because people returned from injury or because people were lost to injury.
1. Nebraska - 88% (2013 - 75%; 2012 - 87%; 2011 - 87%; 2010 - 91%; 2009 - 100%)
2. Oklahoma - 84% (2013 - 83%; 2012 - 75%; 2011 - 92%; 2010 - 88%; 2009 - 83%)
3. Utah - 83% (2013 - 79%; 2012 - 96%; 2011 - 79%; 2010 - 83%; 2009 - 75%)
4. LSU - 82% (2013 - 79%; 2012 - 71%; 2011 - 79%; 2010 - 78%; 2009 - 100%)
T5. Michigan - 80% (2013 - 83%; 2012 - 75%; 2011 - 75%; 2010 - 92%; 2009 - 75%)
T5. Georgia - 80% (2013 - 79%; 2012 - 83%; 2011 - 83%; 2010 - 71%; 2009 - 83%)
7. Florida - 79% (2013 - 71%; 2012 - 88%; 2011 - 79%; 2010 - 88%; 2009 - 71%)
T8. Alabama - 78% (2013 - 79%; 2012 - 83%; 2011 - 75%; 2010 - 88%; 2009 - 63%)
T8. UCLA - 78% (2013 - 83%; 2012 - 79%; 2011 - 75%; 2010 - 83%; 2009 - 67%)
10. Stanford - 72% (2013 - 58%; 2012 - 63%; 2011 - 83%; 2010 - 83%; 2009 - 75%)
A few thoughts:
-I supposed I expected there to be more turnover. Most teams end up retaining between 4 and 5 of the 6 competitors on each event from the first meet to the last meet, and a large number of those changes are made as a result of injury. There proportion of people working their way into the lineup and bumping someone else healthy out of the lineup during the season is low. These things tend to happen in preseason.
-The teams at the extremes of the list aren't particularly surprising. Nebraska has tended to be a smaller team during this span, relying on those key AAers who go every week, so there's little change. Stanford has altered lineups the most of any team over the last two years, and it's not close. Last year, only 2 of Stanford's 6 floor workers from the first meet ended up competing at Nationals, which is the only case of that occurring in the sample. For all other teams in all other lineups and events, at least 3 of the 6 made it to the end of the year. Stanford on floor has by far the most lineup alteration of any team on any event, retaining 62% of floor routines in the span.
-Even though UCLA is toward the bottom of the list, I expected the number to be lower. The Bruins certainly have a reputation for changing lineups around a lot, but that tends to happen more in the middle of the season at away meets against weaker opponents. The first meet usually features a fair proportion of the A team that will also appear at the end. Similarly, I don't necessarily think of Oklahoma's lineups as being so unlikely to change, but aside from that injury-plagued 2012 campaign, the Sooners have been among the most likely to retain the same lineups they started with.
-Two teams shot the moon, Nebraska and LSU, both in 2009, by putting forth identical competitors in the first meet and the final meet. Since Nebraska didn't make Nationals at home in 2009, maybe we can conclude that change is a good thing. Utah almost got there, with 23 out of 24 routines staying the same in 2012.
-Some of the most change also comes from 2009, with UCLA and Alabama just retaining a touch over half the routines, but Stanford over the last two years is the standout winner for being unrecognizable by the end of the year.
-I'm ready for the season to get going. Give me meets.