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Western Illinois takes its final dance in School Hoops 2K8 sim

Welcome again to our simulated dynasty with the Western Illinois Leathernecks in School Hoops 2K8. You can find a full explanation of this project + spoiler-free links to previous seasons here. Try the introduction to this series from early April 2020 for full context. As a reminder, we simulate each sport on this sequence and solely management the recruiting and training methods. Dynasty mode runs for 40 years.

Earlier than we decide up with the Leathernecks at first of 12 months 40, here’s a recap of everything that happened last season:

  • Western Illinois entered 12 months 39 attempting to three-peat as nationwide champions for the primary time in program historical past. We misplaced two starters early to the NBA coming into the season, however nonetheless had sufficient expertise to be ranked No. 10 general within the preseason polls.
  • We ran by way of the common season schedule, dropping just one sport to UCLA in the course of the non-conference season and sweeping Summit League opponents as soon as once more. We entered the NCAA match at 29-1 on the 12 months and earned a No. 4 seed to the large dance.
  • We beat Brown in spherical one, knocked off Georgia Tech within the spherical of 32, beat Indiana within the Candy 16, and misplaced to Florida within the Elite Eight. We all know enter the ultimate season of my profession tied with John Wood with 10 nationwide championships.
  • We added three gamers in our final ever recruiting class: five-star JUCO SF Jerald Obasohan, four-star SG Erwin Partitions, and four-star PF Kenny Butler.

Right here’s a primary take a look at our roster for 12 months 40:

It looks like solely yesterday {that a} fresh-faced, 25-year-old came to the small town of Macomb, Illinois with big dreams. Coach Rick was employed by Western Illinois to do the unimaginable: win a nationwide championship with arguably the worst crew in school basketball. After 39 seasons on the helm, our tiny program has completed that and a lot extra. Now it’s time to hold it up.

Our journey at Western Illinois is lastly coming to an finish. In literal phrases, School Hoops 2K8 forces necessary retirement upon coaches in dynasty mode after 40 seasons. All good tales want closure both approach. As we begin our closing season, we now have some massive stakes connected to our swan music.

Western Illinois has gained 10 nationwide championships within the Ricky Charisma period. That ties us with UCLA legend John Wood for probably the most in historical past. What began as a mission to win a single nationwide championship has now left us with a distinct purpose: to grow to be the undisputed best program within the historical past of the game.

Whereas we failed in our bid to three-peat final season — falling to Florida within the Elite Eight — we did convey again all 4 breakout juniors for this season. We solely misplaced beginning middle DJ Foster to commencement. Yeah, it’s been a while since we last published Year 39 (thanks on your persistence), so let’s go over the roster:

  • PG Christano Ngounou, junior, 89 general: Ngounou made main strides after being compelled into the beginning lineup final season, and now appears to be like like a rock stable contributor going into our closing 12 months. A world recruit out of Cameroon, Ngounou is a quick 6’3 guard with lockdown defensive skill and a barely above common three-point shot. We have now larger names on this squad who can be anticipated to hold the scoring load, however Ngounou goes to play an enormous function as a result of he’s approach higher than each different level guard on the roster. We want high quality minutes from him within the match. Former five-star worldwide recruit with B potential.
  • SG Bernie Doyle, redshirt senior, 92 general: Doyle is an unimaginable expertise who enters his senior 12 months trying to absolutely blossom right into a celebrity. The 6’9 capturing guard makes use of his immense dimension on each ends of the ground. He’s elite at entering into the passing lanes and forcing steals (a team-high 1.8 per sport as a junior) on the defensive finish, and has a candy three-point stroke offensively. Doyle is such a easy scorer and dominant defender that it looks like he has the pure expertise to become an all-great in his senior 12 months. Let’s hope he’s as much as the problem. Former No. 36 general recruit from Detroit with C potential. Projected lottery decide.
  • SF Floyd Keller, redshirt senior, 92 general: Keller checks each field for a small ahead. He has good dimension at 6’7. He has a three-point score within the mid-80s. He’s the very best dunker on the crew. He’s an elite offensive rebounder for a wing with a score within the low 90s, which helps equip him to play minutes on the 4. After a tricky capturing evening in our Elite Eight loss final season — he went 1-for-7 from three — we’ll want Keller to be constantly nice if we wish yet one more run by way of the bracket. Former No. 101 general recruit out of Dallas with C+ potential. Projected second spherical decide.
  • PF Oscar Fray, redshirt senior, 88 general: Fray enters his third 12 months as a starter with an interesting mixture of dimension and talent that would set him up for a breakout senior 12 months. The 7-foot energy ahead is a good three-point shooter for his place with a score slightly below 80. Defensively, he’s the top-rated shot blocker on the crew, and likewise does a fairly good job on the glass. Former No. 118 general recruit out of Lynn, MA with C potential. Projected second spherical decide.
  • C Brody Munoz, redshirt senior, 92 general: Munoz lastly will get the highlight as a senior after backing up DJ Foster — a one-time NCAA match Most Excellent Participant — for his complete profession up up to now. We’re anticipated massive issues, and never simply because he’s tied for the best rated participant on the roster going into the common season. What Munoz lacks in elite dimension at 6’11 he could make up for with power, agility, and rebounding. We count on him to be actually good at forcing turnovers, grabbing putbacks, and serving to fortify the paint. Former No. 169 general recruit (No. 6 middle) out of Nashville with B potential. Projected lottery decide.

We have now an extremely deep bench for our closing season. Middle Logan Polk (85 general) can be our sixth man, and may be capable of kind a three-man entrance court docket rotation with the 2 starters within the match. After that, we now have a whole lot of choices however not a whole lot of good choices.

Right here’s the remainder of the bench: wing Jaycee Queen (80 general), wing Jerald Obasohan (79 general), guard Archie Howell (78 general), wing/guard James Haranga (74 general), guard Edwin Partitions (74 general), and energy ahead Kenny Butler (74 general).

That is actually it. 12 months 40. The final dance. What a experience it has been. We begin the season at No. 4 within the polls.

How did the common season go?

For our closing common season, we tried to schedule a very good mixture of native colleges and historic massive convention rivals with a pair in-season tournaments thrown in for good measure.

Right here’s how the common season went:

  • Win over Bradley
  • Win over Nebraska
  • Win over UTEP
  • Loss to Southern Illinois
  • Win over Florida
  • Loss to Northwestern
  • Win over New Mexico
  • Win over DePaul

That units up a rivalry sport towards Illinois. We’ve performed the Illini in nearly each season, and we don’t wish to finish this dynasty with out yet one more dub. The losses to Southern Illinois and Northwestern have been an actual bummer, and we’d like a palate cleanser. Let’s go!

Large win, 102-68. Take a look at Cristano Ngounou hanging 17 factors and 6 assists on the Illini. Love seeing each starters within the entrance court docket — seniors Oscar Fray (13 factors, 10 rebounds) and Brody Munoz (18 factors, 11 rebounds) — every dropping a double-double, too. And the way about our new five-star JUCO addition Obasohan chipping in 12 factors off the bench? Actually promising efficiency from the boys.

We get an enormous win over Kansas in our subsequent sport. That units up one other marquee sport with a program we don’t like very a lot out of the state of North Carolina: Duke. We’ve battling with Duke on the court docket and on the recruiting path for 40 freaking years. Can we finish this rivalry with a dub?

Ugh, loss, 88-83. Good video games from Bernie Doyle (19 factors, 4 assists) and Oscar Fray (14 factors, 12 rebounds), however it isn’t sufficient. That’s our third lack of the season. Get bent, Duke.

We finish the 12 months with three extra non-conference video games.

  • Win over Illinois-Chicago
  • Win over American
  • Win over Arizona State

Whereas we might have misplaced the ultimate battle to Duke, I gained the conflict over Coach Ok with a considerably higher profession by any measure (extra on that in a minute). Now it’s time to leap into convention play within the Summit League.

Did we go undefeated in convention season?

Sure we did, one other excellent 18-0 stretch.

Now we enter the convention match. Can we punch yet one more computerized bid to the NCAA match?

  • Win over UMKC
  • Win over Southern Utah
  • Win over UL-Calcutta

We’re going to the NCAA match for the final time, however that isn’t even the headliner after successful the Summit League. Im taking house the convention match championship, I gained sport No. 1,171 of my profession. That currently puts me ahead of Coach K for the most wins all-time.

We have now constructed an excellent legacy at Western Illinois. Earlier than we enter the NCAA match, let’s check out our statistical leaders:

What a 12 months for Munoz. Dude sat on the bench for 4 seasons earlier than lastly getting a beginning spot, and all he did was lead our crew in scoring at 17.2 factors per sport. Fray was superior, too, averaging a hair underneath 15 factors per sport whereas chipping in practically two blocks and 6 rebounds per sport. It’s good to see Keller and Doyle each hit double-figures in scoring. I’m a bit shocked Cristano couldn’t even put up seven factors an evening after his massive sport towards Illinois, however the help and steals numbers are stable. We’re going to wish him in March.

The Leathernecks are heading into the NCAA match at 32-3 on the 12 months. I can’t wait to see what seed we get.

2047 NCAA match

Nicely, we couldn’t finish this dynasty with out getting swindled by the Choice Committee yet one more time. We’re a No. 6 seed within the NCAA match. I believed we must always have been a top-four seed with out query.

We’ll open the match with a sport towards No. 11 seed Syracuse. Sheesh. Earlier than we get to the sport, let’s test in on our roster yet one more time:

I’m loving the way in which this group progressed by way of the 12 months. We have now two superior wing scorers with an elite mixture of dimension and capturing in Keller and Doyle. We have now loads of beef up entrance with Munoz, Fray, and Polk. Ngounou entered this system as a 77 general and shot as much as a 92 in three years and not using a redshirt. The bench additionally actually improved in the course of the season and may give us loads of completely different lineup choices in March.

That is going to be a tricky run, beginning with Syracuse. The Orange have knocked us out of the large dance earlier than, and constantly put collectively actually robust groups.

Our final dance begins now. As at all times, we’re simulating each sport, I’m not controlling the ‘Necks.

Let’s go!

Win, 105-73! What an absolute beatdown. We’ve shifting on to the spherical of 32.

Lengthy-time followers of the sequence will know that our Leathernecks have at all times been referred to as a second half crew. It occurred in an enormous approach on this sport. Syracuse ended the primary half robust to chop our result in 9 factors, however we rapidly turned it right into a blowout out of the break.

I believed this was an incredible all-around crew effort. Six gamers hit double-figures in scoring with nobody placing up greater than Floyd Keller’s 15 factors. Everybody who performed recorded an help. I liked this play from the primary half after we set two screens for our five-star JUCO Obasohan that helped get him a simple layup.

Our bench is an enormous query mark coming into this match, principally as a result of it’s full of a whole lot of contemporary faces who haven’t performed massive minutes in clutch spots earlier than. I’ve to say, the efficiency of our reserves in our match opener was tremendous encouraging. Obasohan specifically appears to be like like a keeper after scoring 10 factors on 4-of-5 capturing and flattening a 3. We at all times want wing depth, and he ought to be capable of present that on this run.

The clear spotlight of Obasohan’s evening: this sick two-handed dunk in transition for an and-one.

We love to show protection into offense, and Ngounou and Doyle’s skill to get into the passing lanes actually helps us on the market.

Talking of Ngounou in transition: he had a stupendous end on the break to place the sport absolutely out of attain. That’s what you need out of your level guard.

The win units up a second spherical sport towards Colorado State

The Rams have been a stable program all through this sim dynasty, recurrently making NCAA match appearances. We have now a decisive edge in expertise heading into this sport.

We’re one win away from going to the Candy 16 and prolonged our run within the massive dance. One time, ‘Necks. Let’s go!

Win, 109-79! We’re going to the Candy 16!

We didn’t must be a second half crew on this one. Our ‘Necks blew the doorways off Colorado State from the opening tip-off. I believed we performed an excellent sport offensively because of our inside-out ball motion.

We had 5 scorers in double-figures on this one, however it was senior starters Bernie Doyle and Oscar Fray main the cost. We all know Doyle is able to taking up a sport at his greatest, and he was superior on this one: 20 factors on 7-of-13 capturing from the sphere and 4-of-6 capturing from three. The true story was Fray, although.

Fray was in all probability the least interesting long-term prospect of our recruiting class when he entered this system alongside Doyle, Keller, and Munoz. That was principally due to his 74 score and C potential grade. Whereas he’s at all times been rated just a few factors decrease than his classmates, Fray’s talent set on the court docket is so vital to us. He’s an enormous 7-foot energy ahead who can shield the rim and shoot threes. What extra would you like?

Fray went off on this sport: 22 factors, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals on 9-of-11 capturing. I really like watching the large man shoot from deep. This was from NBA vary.

Right here’s yet one more catch-and-shoot three for good measure.

Fray would possibly get slept on somewhat on this crew, however he’s completely crucial to our success if we wish to win all of it.

I additionally wish to shout-out the bench for an additional stable efficiency. I appreciated what I noticed out of Obasohan (11 factors) and Howell (10 factors). Since we have already got two Obasohan clips on this put up, why not make it three? Love him hitting this triple within the first half to assist us open up the lead.

We’re rollin’.

The win units up a Candy 16 sport vs. Alabama

We’re now 4 wins away from ending this dynasty with a nationwide championship. A Candy 16 sport towards Bama goes to be an absolute battle.

In our simulated future, the Tide have grow to be a basketball faculty. This program appears to make the match yearly, and so they’ve given us loads of bother prior to now.

A visit to the Elite Eight is on the road. Let’s go!

Win, 112-69! We’re onto the Elite Eight!

Say it with me: SECOND. HALF. TEAM. After a decent first half left us with a six-point lead coming into the break, our ‘Necks completely torched the nets within the second half to come back away with the blowout win. Critically: we scored 66 factors within the closing 20 minutes. That was an offensive clinic at its greatest.

I had a very good feeling concerning the second half when Cristano received this three hit the rim like 50 occasions earlier than falling. Typically you want some good luck in your facet.

A pair possessions later, Floyd Keller got here down a ripped one other three. We lastly had a double-digit lead, and we’d by no means look again.

It was nice to see Keller (15 factors) get going from deep. He hit all three of his makes an attempt from past the arc.

Whereas we don’t have any clips of the entrance court docket from this sport, they completely deserve credit score for the win.

Fray turned in one other unimaginable efficiency, this one someway even higher than his final. He ended the sport with 25 factors, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, three steals, and three blocks on 10-of015 capturing. He didn’t try a 3 (booooo) however he dominated the sport on each ends. His entrance court docket mate Munoz was nearly pretty much as good. The senior middle completed with 20 factors and 16 rebounds. We saved going inside — Munoz and Fray mixed for 35 (!) discipline purpose makes an attempt — and so they have been making the Bama protection pay.

Not the very best Bernie Buckets sport (9 factors on 3-of-10 capturing), however I clipped this shot from the primary half, so I’d as nicely embed it right here.

Elite Eight, right here we come.

The win units up an Elite Eight matchup towards No. 1 seed Indiana

Our run within the NCAA match has been a breeze up up to now, however I worry issues about to get much more tough. Our plucky No. 6 seed is about to run into one among school basketball’s blue bloods: the top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers.

The Elite Eight has been one thing of a bugaboo for us. We lost in this round last year. We’ve misplaced on this spherical many occasions earlier than. I don’t need it to occur once more.

A Remaining 4 journey is on the road. As at all times, we’re watching a simulated model of this sport; I’m not controlling the Leathernecks. Let’s go!







Loss, 96-86. Oh my gosh. And similar to that, our dream of ending this dynasty with a nationwide title is over.

I’m devastated. I actually thought this crew was adequate to ship me out on high, however it wasn’t meant to be. The Hoosiers’ exterior shooters did us in. Indiana’s guard-heavy lineup caught hearth from deep (10-of-21 for 47.6 p.c), and our perimeter assault couldn’t sustain. We solely hit 6-of-22 (27.3 p.c) makes an attempt from three.

What occurred to our second half crew this time? We have been solely down two going into halftime, however we have been outscored by eight over the ultimate 20 minutes. Powerful scene.

There have been some stable particular person performances. Munoz went out robust with 23 factors and 10 rebounds. Bernie Doyle dropped 21 factors and hit this three-pointer to maintain us in it early.

Floyd Keller simply didn’t give us sufficient on the wing. He shot 1-of-8 from three within the loss. He did give us somewhat juice in transition, no less than.

Cristano performed all 40 minutes, and had eight factors and 9 assists. I actually want I received one other 12 months with him as a senior subsequent season.

Sadly there is no such thing as a subsequent season. After 40 years at Western Illinois, our sim dynasty is over. Listed below are some closing numbers on the sequence:

  • Remaining file: 1,177-213
  • 10 nationwide championships (tied with John Wood for probably the most in males’s school basketball historical past)
  • 15 Remaining 4 appearances
  • 25 Candy 16 appearances
  • Remaining NCAA match file: 113-27
  • 38 Summit League common season championships
  • 35 Summit League match championships
  • 38 seasons with 20+ wins
  • 61 gamers drafted

The factor I’m most happy with? After we made the NCAA match for the primary time in 12 months 3, we didn’t miss it once more the remainder of this dynasty.

Is Ricky Charisma the best males’s school basketball coach ever?

I feel so. Right here’s how we stack as much as different high coaches in NCAA historical past in vital classes.

Complete wins

  • Ricky Charisma: 1,179
  • Mike Krzyzewski: 1,170
  • Jim Boeheim: 1,083
  • Roy Williams: 903
  • Bob Knight: 899
  • Dean Smith: 879
  • Jim Calhoun: 877
  • Adolph Rupp: 876
  • Bob Huggins: 828
  • Eddie Sutton: 806

Match wins

  • Ricky Charisma: 110
  • Mike Krzyzewski: 94
  • Roy Williams: 77
  • Dean Smith: 65
  • Jim Boeheim: 57
  • Tom Izzo: 52
  • Jim Calhoun: 49
  • John Wood: 47

Remaining 4 appearances

  • Ricky Charisma: 15
  • Mike Krzyzewski: 12
  • John Wood: 12
  • Dean Smith: 11
  • Roy Williams: 9
  • Tom Izzo: 8
  • Rick Pitino: 7
  • Denny Crum, Adolph Rupp, John Calipari: 6

Consecutive match appearances

  • Western Illinois: 36
  • Kansas: 31
  • North Carolina: 27
  • Arizona: 25
  • Duke: 24
  • Michigan State: 23
  • Gonzaga: 22

Profitable share

  • Ricky Charisma: 84.7
  • Mark Few: 83.44
  • Sam Burton: 83.33
  • Clair Bee: 82.444
  • Adolph Rupp: 82.1
  • John Wood: 80.3

Nationwide championships

  • Ricky Charisma: 10
  • John Wood: 10
  • Mike Krzyzewski: 5
  • Adolph Rupp: 4
  • Roy Williams: 3
  • Jim Calhoun: 3
  • Bobby Knight: 3

Who’s the very best participant in Western Illinois historical past?

That’s the large query throughout the fanbase proper now. Earlier than we get to it, let’s look again at our best recruiting wins.

We landed 5 five-star recruits out of the home highschool ranks throughout my time at Western Illinois. We additionally signed 9 five-star JUCO recruits, and 6 five-star worldwide recruits from locations like New Zealand (shout-out Dave French), Montenegro (anti shout-out Vitor Andrisevic), France (what up, Kim Kone!), and Cameroon.

The very best-rated recruit in program historical past was Sammy Yan at No. 10 general in 2032. He was just about a disappointment. This system’s all-time main scorer was middle Vinnie Harmon with 2,452 profession factors throughout his profession. He was the No. 122 general recruit and the No. 8 middle (people who adopted the sequence or performed the sport know that facilities are at all times weirded underrated on the recruiting path).

Listed below are some extra numbers throughout match video games solely (aka, the video games we streamed), from the amazing Leathernecks Database maintained by our fans:

The very best rated participant in program historical past is a tie between small ahead Nic Cummings and level guard Duncan Martinez, who’re the one gamers to succeed in 97 general. Cummings specifically is a good alternative for the GOAT. He ended his profession with three nationwide titles, although just one as a starter. He’s top-10 for me, however not No. 1.

The folks’s alternative for the GOAT is Deke Van, the legendary middle who helped carry us to our first national title in Year 8. Deke’s flip from from Year 7 goat to 12 months 8 GOAT is probably the most memorable we’ve ever had. We couldn’t have carried out any of this with out you, Deke.

Because the sequence went on, different nice gamers emerged who completed with gaudier stats and higher resumes.

My private favourite may be Bert Draughan, Mr. Basketball out of Chicago (No. 29 general recruit), who went on to win a title with us in 12 months 13 and likewise starred for our 12 months 11 crew that started the season 35-0 earlier than dropping to Michigan State within the Remaining 4. Harmon is one other nice alternative. Skip Clemmons helped us win three nationwide titles in 12 months 23, 12 months 24, and 12 months 26. Albert Jagla, Clemmons’ former teammate, performed an enormous function in our first back-to-back championship squad, and is arguably the best perimeter bucket-getter in program historical past.

All-time favourite second? Unimaginable to say. The primary one which involves thoughts is Kim Kone’s go-ahead corner three in the 2024 tournament. Najeeb Goode’s steal vs. UCLA in the Final Four to help us win our second title in Year 13 additionally stands out. There was additionally the time celebrity energy ahead Allen Cunningham took off his pants mid-game.

Thanks to everybody who learn, watched, and interacted

I began this sequence on April 11, 2020, just a few weeks after the pandemic had shut down all ‘actual’ sports activities. On the time, I used to be gearing as much as cowl the 2020 NCAA match. That by no means occurred. I had school basketball on my thoughts, and I at all times wished to put in writing one thing on ‘School Hoops 2K8’, in all probability my favourite online game ever. This undertaking is what got here of it.

I had no concept if anybody was going to learn this. I undoubtedly didn’t suppose I’d end out all 40 years like an entire lunatic. I didn’t suppose I’d write the equal of a number of books by way of whole phrase rely.

Simply earlier than I dropped the primary put up within the sequence, I tweeted this:

I wrote round 70 posts within the sequence, counting the inaugural Hall of Fame induction (learn an enormous Deke Van retrospective at that hyperlink) and two posts of my Deke Van x Seattle Supersonics spin-off. I’m estimating I wrote 200,000 phrases on this sequence. That’s about the length of “The Fellowship of the Ring.”

I nonetheless can’t consider every little thing that got here from this sequence. The Washington Publish wrote a profile on it. I went on WGN TV and did just a few radio spots selling it. We sold a Deke Van t-shirt with Homefield Apparel. Our sequence impressed a new friend in Japan named Thanh Nguyen to write a pair of e-books adding greater depth to our story. Pal of this system Mike Rutherford did an amazing hype video for our first championship run. Once I moved the sequence to Substack for just a few months, greater than 7,000 folks signed up for electronic mail updates and nonetheless stay. Our first Twitch stream for the 12 months 8 Remaining 4 drew greater than 7,000 whole viewers, and had 2,500 concurrent viewers on it at as we have been closing out the win. On SB Nation, the sequence has been seen greater than 500K occasions.

What actually made the undertaking particular was at all times the neighborhood round it. Some fast shout-outs:

Thank the diehards that got here out for each Twitch stream. I don’t wish to title names as a result of I’ll overlook somebody, however you recognize who you’re. I really like you all. I additionally wish to thank the readers for maintaining with the recaps, and everybody who emailed me suggestions all through the sequence. I additionally wish to thank my buddy Scott for introducing me to the sport and operating by way of a number of 40-year dynasties with me approach earlier than I ever thought-about running a blog by way of it like this. This sequence wouldn’t exist with out him.

You can find a link to every post in the series here.

What a experience it’s been. As I sim by way of to the top of the calendar, I’m greeted with this message.

Thanks, everybody. Go ‘Necks.

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