Monday, January 25, 2010

Kevin Noreen About to Break Cody Schilling's Career Record

Kevin Noreen scored 39 points tonight in Minnesota Transitions' 81-51 win over Mpls. Roosevelt, giving him an unofficial 3,429 points for his high school career. That's one more than Cody Schilling scored in his storied career at Ellsworth High School. It is expected that the MSHSL will throw out five or six games that MTC and Noreen played two and three years ago, however, because those opponents were not sanctioned members of the association.

That could cost Noreen, oh, let's say, 150 points? Well, he's got 11 regular season games left. Noreen would only have to score 14 or 15 points per game to get the record even if the Wolves were to flame out in the playoffs, which is unlikely. They're 13-3 and rated #2 in Class A. It's also unlikely he'll only score 14 or 15 points per game the rest of the way, as he's averaging about twice that at the moment.

So the question is not whether he'll score 3,429 points against MSHSL opponents or not. Rather, it's the question that keeps popping up on the discussion boards, it's the question about the legitimacy of his record, considering the caliber of those opponents.

Well, it says here that that argument represents willful ignorance. The folks who make the argument are never actually going to research it and, when presented with the facts, they change the subject. But the subject was and is the caliber of MTS' opponents during Noreen's career. And here are the facts.

During Schilling's last 4 years at Ellsworth (2004-2008), the Panthers played 46 Class A teams and 11 teams above their class (4 in Class AA, 6 in AAA and 1 in AAAA) in the regular season. During Noreen's last four years at MTC (2006-2010), the Wolves played 47 Class A teams and 33 teams above their class (21 in AA, 7 in AAA and 5 in AAAA).

Some reply that, well, sure, but look who those teams are! Here are some of the teams MTS beat over the years: Ascension Academy (ranked #155 one year, according to one rating service [QRF]), Bethany Academy (#147 at their worst), ECHO Charter (#169), Four Directions Charter (#104), Great River (#126), Hmong Academy (#129), MN Academy for the Deaf (#152), Ogilvie (#124), PACT Charter (#114) and Spectrum Charter (#135).

To which, any reasonable person, would want to know, how about Ellsworth? How about Edgerton (#129), Lincoln HI (#142), Martin County West (#112), Minneota (#111), Mountain Lake-Butterfield-Odin (#131), Red Rock Central (#154), Round Lake-Brewster (#148), Russel-Tyler-Ruthton (#140), Southwest Star Concept (#118) and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (#102).

That's 10 opponents rated lower than #100 at some time over the 4 years for MTS (not necessarily so every time they played, of course) versus, you guess it, 11 for Ellsworth. If you average out the QRF ratings for every opponent from every years, Ellsworth's opponents average #80. MTS' average, er, ah, #80. If MTS didn't play anybody, then neither did Ellsworth.

Emblematic of the whole debate is the fact that critics sometimes jump on certain games where MTC has run up the score on fellow charter schools--a 156-33 win over ECHO Charter in the fall of 2007, for example. The parallel point here would be that Ellsworth played and beat ECHO about a year earlier 101-40. How does the fact that Ellsworth didn't beat this woefully weak opponent as badly as MTC make the Panthers' schedule any better?

On the other side of the coin, Ellsworth's toughest opponents of 2004-2008 would appear to be Mankato East (#1, #20 and #29AAA in 3 different years), Marshall (#16, #17 and #20AAA), Blue Earth (#18, #34 and #43AA), Fairmont (#20AA), Rochester Mayo (#14AAAA) and Southwest MN Christian (#17 and #25A). MTS' would appear to be Cedar Mountain-Comfrey (#20A), Columbia Heights (#9AAA), Crosby-Ironton (#6AA), Kittson County Central (#17A), Mpls. Henry (#16AAA), Mpls. Roosevelt (#20AA), Minnehaha Academy (#3 and #4AA), Minnetonka (#10AAAA), Park Christian (#4 and #9A), Rocori (#4AAA), Southwest Christian (#12, #14, #18 and #22A), Spring Grove (#18A), Staples-Motley (#9AA) and Warren-Oslo-Alvorado (#25A).

That's 19 top 25 ranked teams for MTC and 10 for Ellsworth. MTC has the edge in Class A, 10-2, and among larger schools, 9-8.

It's easy enough to anticipate, by the way, that somebody will jump on the fact that I've referenced 80 different MTC opponents (47 in Class A and 33 higher) and only 57 for Ellsworth (46 and 11). See, Noreen needed more games to get the record! No. I don't know how many games the 2 of them played before 9th grade, but from 9th grade on Schilling's team played 127 games while Noreen's, as of last night, had played 107. It's just that Ellsworth played a more consistent list of opponents, twice a year, home and home, year after year. Schedules are a lot more fluid among metro charter schools and metro schools generally, who very rapidly up- or down-grade their schedules depending on their own abilities.

So, as a guesstimate, Schilling scored 3, 428 points in 127+ games, or something a bit less than 27 ppg. For Noreen, it's 3,429 in 107+ games, and no more than 32 ppg, probably less. Oh. And on any given night, he was 3 times more likely to be facing a Class AA, AAA and AAAA opponent.

To some, this may not roll up into convincing evidence that MTC played tougher opponents than Ellsworth did. To them I recommend a refresher in Logic 101.

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