It's time for the first ever Horizon League Mailbag (#HLMailbag on Twitter, which was trending for a total of zero seconds this week!)
Do you have a question for the next edition of the mailbag? Click on my name underneath the title and you'll see a few ways to get a hold of me. We've got some great questions this week so let's waste no further time talking about how to ask me questions (No, seriously, ask me questions, it's fun to answer them!)
Our first question comes from a Valparaiso fan from Southwest Florida named LaPorte Avenue Apostle
Wow...is it just me or did the HL have a crappy first week?
Well, that's a thought provoking question. When I did my weekly recap Sunday I didn't say to myself "This was bad..." But I also didn't think it was particularly stellar, so I looked and saw that the Horizon League was a combined 10-20 against Division 1 opponents. On the surface that looks really bad. If you dig deeper, it doesn't look much better.
Milwaukee lost to an IUPUI team which, at the time of writing this, was ranked 319 in KenPom's latest rankings while Cleveland State, who some picked to win the Horizon, lost to the MEAC's Savannah St. Those are not quality losses and in the RPI formula those hurt the entire conference. On the other end of the spectrum, Wright State beat Belmont, who was ranked 95 at KenPom. That was the only victory in the top half of the country according to his rankings.
Now that isn't that bad because the average ranking of the teams played was 171 and the games that were lost in the 100-175 range were played by the bottom half of the conference. UIC, a team I am not expecting to win too many games played four teams who were all ranked over 100 spots higher than them. Valparaiso lost on the road to a Missouri team that was ranked more than 50 spots ahead of them. And of course Green Bay and Detroit lost to Wisconsin and Michigan, two teams in the top 20.
The expected outcome of this week was actually 10-20 and while there were four surprises, they all balanced out. Long term the only concern would have to be Cleveland State's loss to Savannah St. If the Vikings are your representation in the tourney this loss will weigh heavily in their seeding.
The next question comes from Penguin Nation. I'm assuming they are from the Youngstown area, but the question arose on the YSU Forums.
How do you get a real D1 HC? :D
This one is a real head-scratcher. Unfortunately, Ask Jeeves didn't have a response for me. When I Googled it the first thing was a list of D1 Head Coaches in football. That doesn't help.
Here's what I can say to you. Sometimes hiring a low level D1 Coach who has had success doesn't work. Recently Youngstown State has had some bad teams with Jerry Slocum. When you have 10 seasons at a university you should have more than 20 percent of your seasons over .500. Unless YSU is complete garbage, I don't see Jerry getting fired this season. In fact, I don't know what he would have to do to get fired at this point if he can withstand back to back 2-16 records in conference.
You might want to get your football team in order and then start thinking about basketball though. Five seasons with more than four losses isn't like you. It's gotten so bad that fans of Valpo football have been talking about scheduling the Penguins to see how we stand (We'd get crushed by the way, Valpo football is happy to have more than three wins in a season)
It's rough when you're a fan of a university that has a long tenured head coach and your school isn't not known for basketball. Luckily I grew up in Northwest Indiana and Valpo has been there for me.
The final question comes from my friend Jenna who asked it via Facebook. She's not a sports fan but I think you will know where her priorities lie.
Who has the best mascot?
This is a fun question to think about. Let's take a look at the league.
9. UIC: Sparky D. Dragon
I'm sorry but you look like Barney's slow cousin. You're not particularly entertaining to look at and I think UIC could have done a lot more with a nickname like "Flames". Also Sparky? At least go by Spark, you're a dragon, have some respect.
8. Green Bay: Phlash the Phoenix
Pure nightmare fuel. That's all that needs to be said about this.
7. Valparaiso: Valparaiso University Crusader
It pains me to say this but the previous mascot was SOOO much better. While the name stayed the same the redesign loses points for me. He smiled, he was goofy looking and when he did silly stuff it made sense. Now it looks like the Crusader has to be stoic the entire game. That stinks.
6. Cleveland State: Magnus
He looks a sad version of the Michigan State mascot. Sorry CSU, but there's some great mascots ahead of you.
5. Wright State: Rowdy Raider
He looks ferocious. He's wearing his team's jersey. And yet you get the feeling he's happy. I really like Rowdy. He loses points for having the same nickname as one of the best players to play in the last five years.
4. Detroit: Tommy Titan
This one goes hand in hand with...
3. Oakland: Grizz
Grizz and Tommy have renewed their rivalry and it's outstanding. Just wait until you see these two fight. Good times.
2. Milwaukee: Pounce The Panther
Pounce is adorable and fluffy and everything I love in mascots. You can see him doing goofy stuff, you can see him intimidate other teams, he's perfect. Well that is until I saw...
OH MY GOSH THEY ARE MARRIED AND HAVE A BACKSTORY AND EVERYTHING! These two are the class of the Horizon League and when they dance and waddle around the stadium you just have to laugh. And really that's all that's important when it comes to mascots. Congrats YSU, your fans may want your coach gone, but you have the best mascot.