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Copyright 2014 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

In previous years, Henrico boys basketball coach Vance Harmon would post the Capital District standings on the dry erase board in the team room. Every day, his players knew exactly where they stood and how close they were to the competition.

But since the Virginia High School League's realignment in August, area basketball teams are somewhat in the dark in regard to where they stand in their conferences.

When the regular season ends on Saturday, area basketball teams will prepare for their conference tournaments, not a district tournament as in years past. Conferences lines are drawn by enrollment. Districts were formed by geography.

And since some conference opponents never face each other in the regular season, a simple win-loss record can't be used to determine conference seeding. Instead, a power rating is calculated, similar to the one used to seed football teams.

Because of the complexity of the power rating, Harmon no longer posts standings on the board. He and his staff calculate the rating for every team in the conference, but it's far from official.

"It (used to be) easy to figure out where you were," Harmon said. "Now you've got to be somewhat of a math scholar to figure it out."

For Henrico and the rest of Conference 11, here's the path to the playoffs: For each win against a VHSL opponent, a team earns seven points. If a team loses to an opponent from a higher classification, the loser is awarded bonus points. Add up all the points, divide by the number of games played, and that's the team's power rating.

When Harmon and his staff did the math over the weekend, they calculated that Henrico is tied with Highland Springs with a rating of 5.35. But not until the official ratings were circulated Monday morning did they know for sure.

In football, the VHSL calculates and announces the power rating of every team in the state at the beginning of each week. But in every other sport, that task is left to the athletic directors. In Conference 11, the task goes to Hermitage AD Chris Rollison.

After recording scores from the Internet and asking for team records from other ADs, he sat down with a pen, paper and calculator to figure out the conference standings. The first time he hammered out each team's power rating, in mid-January, it took him 90 minutes.

Because figuring the power ratings of eight boys teams and eight girls teams is no easy task, Rollison can't produce updated standings every day. At the same time, some coaches feel uneasy about not always knowing where they fit into their conference standing.

"Coaches should know this stuff," Henrico assistant Chris Brown said.

Further complicating the issue is that other conferences in the area don't use the same rules as Conference 11. The VHSL mandates that every conference conduct a postseason tournament and that every team in the conference participate. But how those teams are seeded is up to the individual conferences.

"There's not a uniform policy throughout the state," Rollison said.

So conferences have adopted different rules. Conference 12 uses the winning percentage in conference games to determine its seeds. Conference 20 uses the VHSL power rating, but includes out-of-state games in its calculation, unlike Conference 11.

Not every coach in the area will fret about power ratings and where each team fits into the standings, Brown said. Some will take a much simpler approach: wait until the season ends and go where you're told to go.

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Copyright © 2014, The Richmond Times-Dispatch and may not be republished without permission. E-mail


February 12, 2014


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