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Florida State sports notebook: Top ranked FSU soccer update

Just a few thoughts on Seminole sports. As always read at your own risk.

Soccer: Women’s College Cup Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Florida State (13-0-0) has passed every test so far with flying colors. However, some may complain that the questions haven’t been too hard. We are at the point of the season where we have enough data to make some informed judgments about the team. Therefore, it is time for another edition of the Seminole sports notebook.

These are real questions posed by real people in the sense that they are actual questions (they end in a question mark) and I am a real person. I have written almost all of the questions.

Florida State is the only Division One team in the nation without a loss or a tie on their record. However, the Noles slipped from No. 1 to No. 3 in the RPI this week. What gives?

The Seminoles have been on top of the Coaches Poll every week of the season. The Noles have retained their number one ranking this week. However, FSU has slipped to the third spot in the RPI after being on top of that ranking in all of the previous weeks.

This drop is explained by the formula used to calculate RPI. Strength of Schedule is very important to the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). Here is the formula for the RPI:

RPI = (WP * 0.25) + (OWP * 0.50) + (OOWP * 0.25)

In English, the RPI is calculated by using 25 percent of the team’s winning percentage; 50 percent of its opponents’ average winning percentage; and 25 percent of its opponents’ opponents’ average winning percentage.

Basically what happened in this case is that FSU played two teams in Syracuse (4-8-1) and Miami (4-8) with poor records this week. Even though the Noles crushed both teams that doesn’t matter (much) to the RPI. The fact that the Seminoles played those teams depressed FSU’s rating.

Florida State was passed by Arkansas (11-2) and North Carolina (10-1-2) this week. The good news (if you care about RPI) is that FSU will shortly rise in the ratings no matter the result of the next games as the Seminoles play Virginia Tech (8-4-2) this week and UNC, Duke (9-2-1) and Virginia (12-1-1) next week.

The bottom line is that the RPI is a poor measure to rate teams and that is why the basketball selection committee no longer uses it officially (although committee members are allowed to consult the RPI if they wish). The bad news is that the soccer committee does still use the RPI.

Speaking of Strength of Schedule, will FSU’s relatively soft schedule come back to haunt the Seminoles on selection day?

It is true that Florida State has not played a tough schedule. The Seminoles have only faced one team (#23 Auburn) that is currently ranked in the coaches poll. FSU’s strength of schedule is ranked 49th nationally.

However, by the time selection day rolls around the Noles will have played the teams mentioned above (#26 Virginia Tech, #3 North Carolina, #8 Duke and #2 Virginia) along with (hopefully) a couple of ACC Tournament games.

In other words, strength of schedule won’t be an issue for Florida State when the committee starts to construct the tournament bracket.

What do you think of the upcoming games? Could any of those teams take down the Seminoles?

All of them could. However, it would take a relatively off day from FSU for any of them to do so based on what I have seen from them so far this season. I discussed these teams in the previous notebook so I will be brief here.

The Hokies have some impressive outings on their resume beating South Carolina and tying UNC and Duke. However, VT has lost to Wake Forest and Clemson in the last two games and before that only beat Pitt 2-1. It is dangerous to use the transitive property in sports but FSU beat Clemson 4-1 and beat Pitt 5-0. Emily Gray is a player to keep an eye on for the Hokies but in general it would take a lot for FSU to drop this game.

North Carolina is next and the Tar Heels always have talent. However, they are really young and they were extremely lucky to beat Boston College (6-7-1, 0-6 ACC) in their last game (2-1 OT) when they scored the equalizer in the 88th minute. This game was controlled by BC but the Heels used their depth at the end of the game to take advantage of the tired Eagles. That depth won’t be such an advantage against FSU. I expect the Noles to have too much for UNC in this game.

Duke has been very impressive all year (especially when Michelle Cooper has played) but the Blue Devils somehow dropped a game to NC State (2-1, 2OT) and that has shaken my confidence a bit especially since Cooper played in that game. Even so I think that this is the trickiest of the games left for FSU. I still expect the Noles to be fine because I think that they will be able to impose their will on the Devils but Cooper remains a major threat.

Virginia comes to Tallahassee to close the regular season. The Hoos have looked impressive recently with their only recent “blemish” being a 0-0 tie with UNC on October 3rd. UVA will always be a threat but I favor FSU in this one due to two major factors:

  • FSU has more depth than UVA
  • The game is in Tallahassee

I also don’t think that the Cavs have enough offensive firepower to keep up with FSU especially with Rebecca Jarrett not available. UVA meets Notre Dame (12-1-1, 6-0 ACC) on Sunday. The winner of that game will claim second place in the ACC. We will learn a lot about both teams in that game.

Note: The following three questions were submitted by Tomahawk Nation member RWHughes, Jr.

How will (Gabby Carle’s) absence impact us in the toughest part of our schedule?

Carle’s absence will definitely make a difference. FSU has moved between using a three back defense and a four back defense this year. The coaches decide which defense to use based on what they see on film from the opponent. I don’t think that Carle’s absence will cause FSU to use the three back more often. I expect that the coaches will continue to decide that based on what they see from the opponent.

If FSU decides to use the three back defense Carle’s absence won’t matter as much because she moves to the midfield in this alignment. Therefore, she can be replaced with a midfielder and that isn’t as disruptive because FSU is deep in the midfield. Midfield is the team’s strongest position group.

If Florida State decides to use four in the back for any of the games (and it is likely that they will for at least some of them) I expect that the coaches will substitute Heather Payne for Carle. Payne has the experience to play on the back line and she has the speed to get forward on overlapping runs. Payne also starts up top for the Irish national team so she would be a serious threat when she does get forward.

Losing Carle will make a difference as she is an experienced, talented and accomplished player. However, FSU is really deep and the Noles should have enough to get through this stretch in her absence.

Will (Carle) be back for the tournament time?

Yes, barring injury. The last game of the Celebration Tour is October 26th which means that Carle would be back in plenty of time for the ACC Tournament.

How does coach juggle these outside commitments with the team commitments?

Good question! I’m not sure that I have ever discussed this in detail on Tomahawk Nation.

This is an important topic given that FSU has so many international players. It is important to understand that virtually all players want to play for their national teams. Of course, it is a great honor to play for your country but there can also be significant financial benefits as well.

In general, what happens is that the relevant international coaches will talk with head coach Mark Krikorian before the season. In this discussion they will talk about the plans that the international coach may have for the player or players on FSU’s roster. Usually this includes a discussion about international “windows”. These windows are timeframes where the international coach may need to call up the player to participate for the country in international competitions or tournaments. The international coach isn’t guaranteeing that the player will be called up but this serves as a heads up that it could happen at this time. The size of the windows can vary depending on the competition but they are usually around seven to ten days.

Technically speaking it takes all three parties (international coach, college coach and player) to agree before a player leaves for international competition but in practice it only takes the international coach. If the international coach calls up the player it would take a VERY good reason for the player to refuse the call up. In most cases refusal of a call up would mean that the player would not receive another one. In other words, that player’s international career could be over unless a new coach came in or the player was such a superstar that she could get away with refusing callups. Very few of those players exist and none of them play for FSU.

Therefore, if a player is called up she will almost always want to answer the call. Technically the college coach could refuse to send the player but this rarely happens and would almost never happen at FSU. Why?

  • Mark Krikorian has had great success finding international talent and integrating that talent to build championship level teams. If he started ordering players to refuse callups that would torpedo future recruiting of international players.
  • If a college coach ordered a player to refuse a callup there is a good chance that the player would quit the team and go anyway. Playing for the national team is really important and everyone understands this dynamic.
  • Krikorian and most coaches care about their players. They understand how important it is for them to play for their national teams. As discussed earlier, it is a great honor and it is incredibly important for their future careers. These players will only play at FSU for four years. They could play on their national teams for a decade or more. These coaches don’t want to stand in the way of this opportunity for their players.

Having international players on the roster has a lot of positives. They bring a different style that other players can learn from. Players from Jamaica play a little differently than players from Ireland who play a little differently than players from Japan who play a little differently than players from Canada. Having that different flavor from all over the globe makes everyone better. In addition, recruiting internationals increases a team’s talent base.

However, callups are part of the deal when recruiting international players. It is a negative not to have a player like Carle for this upcoming tough stretch but it is also a positive to have her out there representing the University and winning gold medals. Basically, when recruiting international players you have to take the bad with the good but it is mostly good.

Coaches basically handle the absence of a player like they would handle an injury. Next person up!

Next Game

Florida State faces Virginia Tech on Friday at 5pm. The game will be broadcast on RSN.

The comments are yours.