WhatIfSports User Interview: chapelhillne

One of chapelhillne's coaching gigs is at Georgia Tech, where he recently guided the Yellow Jackets to a title.
Getty Images/Mike Comer

If you’re a Hoops Dynasty player, chances are you’ve battled against chapelhillne in a game or for a prized recruit. With a team in every world and 424 seasons under his belt, chapelhillne has been around the block. He currently ranks as the 29th-winningest coach in HD history. In this Q&A, chapelhillne shares a bit about himself and his Hoops Dynasty strategies.

Hoops Dynasty Overall Record

ID Seasons Record Conf. Chmp. NT Chmp.
chapelhillne 403 8,673-3,475 (.714) 179 10
billy_graham 21 393-223 (.638) 7 1

Hoops Dynasty Active Teams

World School Ovrl Record Conf. Record NT Record NT Chmp.
Naismith North Dakota 180-62 (.744) 106-22 (.828) 5-5 (.500) 0
Wooden Illinois 1,065-440 (.708) 586-214 (.733) 47-32 (.595) 1
Rupp Johns Hopkins 74-39 (.655) 45-19 (.703) 0-1 (.000) 0
Smith UConn 1,113-510 (.686) 564-287 (.663) 50-36 (.581) 0
Iba Hawaii 618-307 (.668) 355-141 (.716) 11-16 (.407) 0
Allen Ouachita Baptist 318-117 (.731) 178-55 (.764) 3-9 (.250) 0
Crum New Mexico 526-252 (.676) 278-138 (.668) 20-16 (.556) 1
Tarkanian Georgia Tech 1,535-523 (.746) 741-316 (.701) 112-52 (.683) 2
Knight Kansas 1,438-631 (.695) 738-366 (.668) 55-49 (.529) 1
Phelan LSU 1,806-594 (.753) 901-315 (.741) 151-55 (.733) 5
Rupp Lamar 393-223 (.638) 216-120 (.643) 14-6 (.700) 1

WIS: Who is chapelhillne?

chapelhillne: I’m 56 years old, and publish two magazines in West Georgia, about 25 miles from Atlanta. One of the magazines is called Chapel Hill News & Views, which is the reason for my ID (I ran out of letters when I first signed up). There is an area called Chapel Hill in the county we serve. A lot of people see that name and think I am from North Carolina. I am married and have three sons although one passed away a couple of years ago.

WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?

chapelhillne: I always liked the EA sports college football and basketball games, and looked online to see if there was something similar. Once I tried it, I was hooked. At that point I was also in several fantasy leagues. But I hated when I’d have a great fantasy team going into the fantasy playoffs, but then the real life coach would sit my star player to rest them for the “real” post season. With HD, I have total control of who plays when. Once I joined, I told my son toknowpepsi, and a couple of guys that were in fantasy leagues with me about it (skinzfan36, tcole23, and irrevocable) and they are still active as well.

WIS: What are some of your interests and hobbies?

chapelhillne: I stay really busy with my business, so I don’t have a whole lot of free time. HD really is my main hobby. I have 11 teams at the moment — 10 with chapelhillne and one with my billy_graham ID. I also like politics, but dislike the negativity and dishonesty of it. I am a Christian and faith is important to me. I want to reflect that in how I treat others and run the business. I also like music, especially classic rock.

WIS: Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?

chapelhillne: Billy Graham — I think I admire him more than anyone else. He has preached to over 215 million people in live audiences, impacted a lot of lives, and remained scandal free. Pete Rose — I grew up in Cincinnati and loved his hustle, like sprinting to first base on a walk and always sliding headfirst.  Klaus Meine — Lead singer from the Scorpions. I love their music and they have been playing since the early 1960s. Martin Luther King — He was a principled, fearless leader who really believed in non-violence and was not in it for personal gain, and he changed history. Evel Knievel — He was such a good promoter and anyone that tries to jump over a canyon in a motorcycle would have to be pretty interesting.

WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?

chapelhillne: I played center field for my high school baseball team. I enjoyed playing all sports, but that was the only one I was really any good at. Unless you consider pool a real sport.

WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?

chapelhillne: I grew up during the Big Red Machine era in Cincinnati, so I have fond memories of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and others on that team. For basketball, I really admire Michael Jordan. I remember a playoff game where he had a severe case of the flu including a fever and they were wondering if he’d play. He scored 38 points. I really admire Tim Tebow because he has taken most of the millions of dollars he has made and started a foundation that has built a hospital in the Philippines and sponsored a prom for special needs kids all over the country. Also really like Peyton Manning for his talent and class. Have to admire Tom Brady for his Super Bowl performance even though it caused the Falcons to lose the game.

Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds dives head first into home plate during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field during the early 1970s. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

WIS: Do you have any sports-related items on your bucket list that you have not yet done?

chapelhillne: I’d like to go to a Final 4, and would love to go watch the Falcons when they make the Super Bowl next year (hopefully).

WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?

chapelhillne: Winning my first title at Palm Beach Atlantic, and later having a 68-game winning streak there were definitely highlights. Another was with my alternate ID billy_graham. I created a team with only players with Bible names. Chose Nazareth for the school, since that was kind of fitting. Somehow that team went 34-1 and won the NT in its fourth year.

WIS: Do you have any favorite players from any of your HD teams?

chapelhillne: There are a few that stand out but probably my favorite was at Delta State. I had a center named Clark Bell. He was #193 when I recruited him, and his starting rating was 458.  He ended his career at 866 overall, which was a 408-point increase.

WIS: You currently coach at eight DI schools, two DII schools and one DIII school. Which division do you prefer?

chapelhillne: D1 is my favorite, because it is so challenging and it’s fun to coach the big name schools. I really like Hawaii in 3.0 because it is the most difficult location in D1. I am having tremendous success at D2 with the two teams there right now. North Dakota just lost in the final 4 and Ouachita Baptist is currently ranked #2. I enjoy D3 as well, but prefer to have a bigger scouting and recruiting budget. My successes have been more related to recruiting as opposed to coaching in my opinion, so not having complete information handicaps me somewhat.

WIS: What factors do you consider when changing schools? Do you generally have a target job in mind as you work your way up through the divisions?

chapelhillne: I generally have been trying to move to higher baseline schools, with no particular target in mind. I also have a long-term goal of coaching in every state, plus DC and Puerto Rico, so that has come into play. I am now only lacking Wyoming, Nevada, and Indiana.  I also try to find a fuller conference because it’s more fun to me. Some schools are in great recruiting areas, like Utah, Colorado and LSU. Palm Beach Atlantic is really nice in D3 because it is the only D3 school in Florida. I also like to coach near where I live, so that is why I still have Georgia Tech, and why I chose West Georgia in D2. It’s cool to recruit kids from high schools I am familiar with. I enjoy moving around, and rebuilding teams.

WIS: Half of your championships came at DIII Palm Beach Atlantic in the Phelan world. After your fifth title in 16 seasons there, you jumped straight to DI and have been at that level ever since, but haven’t won another championship. If you had it to do over again, would you stay at Palm Beach Atlantic and continue building a dynasty?

chapelhillne: It was REALLY hard to leave Palm Beach Atlantic. At one point I had a 69-game winning streak, and made the Final 4 eight times in nine years. It was also a great conference, and almost always full. I really wanted to go to D1 at that point, because it was not as challenging any more. I didn’t have all of the teams I have now. If I did, I would probably have stayed, but I had a team at D1 in Smith and was really enjoying that. I have won five other championships since then, but not in Phelan. If I had not won any championships in any world then I’d definitely be kicking myself. Every once in a while I look and see if it is available, but it would be hard to leave LSU to go back to D3.

WIS: In the Mountain West in Crum, you’re forming a “super conference,” according to a recent post. How did that come together? Do you think a Mountain West school can win the conference’s first national championship since gopokes24 won a title at Wyoming in Season 35?

chapelhillne: When I took New Mexico four seasons ago, it was already fairly full, and we have recruited a few coaches so we now have 11. Between all of us we have over 53,000 combined wins and 40 national championships. I think we have a shot at one of us winning the title because of the caliber of coaches. In 3.0, you can recruit more effectively at longer distances, which is important for the region many MWC teams are in. Since teams can only do 20 HVs, a team in California or Texas can’t outspend my New Mexico team if I want to make a big effort for a player there. In 3.0, several mid majors and lower level teams have come very close to winning a title, and I think it will happen very soon, and will occur much more frequently than it did in 2.0.  Being in a full conference in 3.0 is not as important as it was in 2.0, but it does help with the conference strength preference in recruiting, and with the RPI, which helps you make the tournament.

WIS: You maintain a forum thread in which you keep track of the winningest coaches in Hoops Dynasty history. You currently rank 29th on the list with more than 8,500 wins. How high up the list do you think you can make it before you retire?

chapelhillne: Being the super competitive person I am, I’d love to get to number 1. But oldresorter is at 21,568 so that is going to be tough to reach, and by the time I get there, if he is still playing he’ll probably be at 35,000. I don’t plan on retiring, so maybe I can get to the top 10 at least, and if I live to be 100 I may pass oldresorter.

WIS: What has been your experience recruiting in HD 3.0 compared to 2.0?

chapelhillne: I like it better for a number of reasons. It’s more challenging because even B teams can compete for top recruits. The top recruits get battled for much more than before. It’s harder to figure out if you will win battles because preferences that come into play. Plus, teams can build up a lot of attention points on a player, which can further offset a prestige advantage. And there is the randomness of the top team not always winning.

In 2.0 you knew how much money a team had, and could calculate the effect of the prestige difference. You had a good idea of how much was needed to win a battle. One thing I always hated about 2.0 was when a higher prestige team would drop 100 home visits on a player at the signing cycle out of nowhere, when you had been leading the entire time. With 3.0, you know the worst-case scenario is 20 HVs and a CV, so you can prepare for that. In 2.0 every team could see who you were recruiting, and see how many battles you were in. If you were in a couple of battles, they would often target your other players because you were spread too thin. This caused teams to be afraid to battle, which is not realistic. In 3.0 it is a lot harder to figure out the players another team is going after, and it’s hard to know how much effort they have put in. They could be very high with 50 AP and a scholarship, or they could be very high with 20 HVs, a CV, a start and 25 minutes. I also like the 20 HV and 1 CV limit because even if you only have one opening, you can spend as much as a team with six openings. In 2.0 if you had one opening and a team came along with six, you had no chance because they had so much more money they could drop on the player. I like the long scouting time instead of 36 hours. Since HD is my pastime it gives me something to do when I have free time. I love the 6-hour cycles. I hate to admit it, but during recruiting in 2.0, if I happened to wake up between 2am and 5am I’d sometimes run in and check on recruiting and maybe drop some HVs on a player.

WIS: What is your strategy for recruiting? Do you utilize any recruiting tools? How does your strategy differ from one division to the next?

chapelhillne: My strategy partially depends on my team. For D3 and D2 I try to put just a couple of AP on a ton of players in the first cycle. I only go after D1 players. I always use the hosted camp of 200 players, since that gives me 2 levels of information. Then I use the scouting service for all of the states that are within 200-300 miles of me.  At D3, that about kills the whole budget. At D2 and D1 I will also use the assistant to scout every player to level 4 within 200-300 miles. At D3, I still have a lot of people at Level 3, and I will save the rest of my money temporarily while I wait to see which prospects get swallowed up by D1 or D2 teams in the first session. Once the first cycle processes, I will delete any players that already have a D1 school considering them. I then try to pick a couple of targets and unlock them. I want to unlock more players than I have scholarships for, because if a D1 team comes after them early, it’s probably not going to work out so well. So, for D2 and D3 the object is to get decent D1 players that fall through the cracks.

At D1 it really depends on the prestige and number of scholarships, and if I anticipate EEs. I usually cast a fairly wide net in the first cycle, then look and see what the competition is for different recruits. I do the same type of scouting as above so that I have complete information about everyone in a 300 mile or so range. Making solid decisions early about who you think you can get, and sticking to a plan is important. The fewer AP you waste the better. Preferences are really important, so when deciding on targets, I like to find the best players I can that also have good preference matches. In a battle, I try to think like the opposing coach and guess where his priorities are, and estimate how much he is spending on other players if I can figure out who they are. I think there is a lot of psychology involved.

WIS: How much time do you spend on your Hoops Dynasty teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?

chapelhillne: Every morning when I get up, I look at the scores and game plan for the games for that day. That takes about 30 minutes, or about 2-3 minutes per team. I mainly set my defense, based on the 3-point tendencies of my opponent. If I have a man to man defense, I look and see if I want to double team someone. But that’s about it. For scouting, I probably spend about an hour or two per team. I alter my practice plan every time grades come out, by reducing skills that have turned red or yellow and moving those to blue or green areas. I usually will change my player distributions every week or so. If someone has a fairly high dist and they are shooting under 40% I’ll lower it one, and if they are over 50% I’ll raise it. So, to answer the question, I think a coach can be successful with just a few minutes a day during the season, but you really want to spend a couple of hours scouting so that you can recruit a good team.

WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?

chapelhillne: I would say read the forums. Also don’t hesitate to site mail users that are successful and ask for help. Most coaches like helping others. But you can read the forums, and ask questions on the forums and learn a lot. Also, be sure to learn how to set the defense – that was the one thing that made a huge difference.

WIS: What is your favorite aspect of Hoops Dynasty?

chapelhillne: I think it is challenging. Even after all of these years of playing there are still a lot of things that I am learning to become a better coach. It also intrigues me that there is not just one strategy that everyone has to try to use. I am super competitive, so having a successful team perform well against strong competition is a lot of fun to me. I also enjoy the other coaches.

WIS: Least favorite?

chapelhillne: Probably reading forum posts by those who constantly insult others and consistently argue, no matter what the topic. Fortunately, there are only a few like that. My goal in reading the forums is to learn about the topic, or help someone, so I dislike weeding through unnecessary posts.

WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?

chapelhillne: I think the biggest issue right now is the second recruiting session. I’d like to see early entries declare during the first session, even if the full recruiting amount for the departing player was not given until they leave. This way you’d know if you are losing a key player or players. I’d also like to see a couple of cycles run in the second session before signings start. Right now, when the second session starts, you can spot a player you want and send enough AP to unlock them, but they often sign with a D2 team before you have a chance to offer a scholarship or do home visits.  I’d also do away with the new coach sign up period, since they can sign up all year long anyway. This would allow new coaches to be able to recruit in the second session, and begin to craft their new team, instead of being stuck with the sim recruits. They would be more likely to stay with a team they have recruited, and it would cut down on the dead time between seasons. WIS would also make more money by turning over seasons faster.

WIS: Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?

chapelhillne: Man, there are so many users I really enjoy and respect, so it is really hard to list all of them. I have mentored quite a few people and have really enjoyed that. With the exception of the very few people who troll the forums I really enjoy everyone in this game. toknowpepsi is my son, so I need to mention him. Skinzfan36 is someone that I talked into trying the game when I first started playing, as was tcole23. Tarvolon was someone I mentored early on. gomiami1972 and I both have teams in Hawaii and communicate a lot about potential strategies, benis helped a whole lot with the 3.0 guide.

The users I admire most are the ones that have had the greatest success, because they are better than I am. Oldresorter has won more games (21,000+) and championships (44) than anyone, so he’d have to be at the top of the list. Oldman needs to be on the list with 25 titles in 259 seasons. That is like a title every 10 years, which is extremely impressive over that many seasons, and most are at D1. Anyone that has won 10 or more championships would be on the list for sure. What amazes me are the guys that have won over 10 championships in less than 200 years. dgravs has won 14 titles in 136 years. Stewdog has won 12 in 156 years. Qb4usf has won 11 in 108 years. Piman314 has won 10 in 142 years. It has taken me over 400 seasons to win 10.

WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?

chapelhillne: I’d probably play baseball and be in centerfield, but I can’t remember the HBD ratings, so if I was in HD, these would my ratings when I was 20 instead of 56.

Ath: 40

Speed:80

Reb: 30

Def: 35

Blk: 35

LP: 15

PE:15

BH 15

P: 30

WE: 70

St: 75

DU: 50

FT: D-

Overall: 490 — and that would be full potential

WIS: We thank chapelhillne for taking time to share with the HD community!

View the WhatIfSports User Interview archive.