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End of SJS basketball power ratings imminent
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LODI — The Sac-Joaquin Section could soon eradicate its power ratings system that has helped determine postseason basketball qualifiers and seedings for the past 24 years.

It was one of the hot-button topics discussed Thursday during the Media Day event hosted annually at the SJS office. Commissioner Pete Saco, Assistant Commissioner John Williams and Director of Communications Will DeBoard conducted the meeting.

The overhaul of the Section’s postseason basketball format will be put to a vote during the Oct. 16 Board of Managers meeting held at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton.

The proposed system will be similar to the one adopted for volleyball last year. Winning percentage, nonleague strength of schedule and conference strength are part of the formula. Qualifying teams are separated into population-based divisions.

“No computer formula is perfect,” Saco said.

Last year, the Section added a new wrinkle to help alleviate some the system’s imperfections. Teams with 15 overall wins advanced regardless of how they finished in their league standings. The intent was to give teams another way in, which opened up more postseason spots and the need for “play-in” games.

That only created more problems. In the Tri-City Athletic League, for example, fourth-place West earned a Division-I berth with an 18-10 overall record. Co-runners-up Tokay and Edison, however, did not advance despite owning better league records than West.

The proposed format would welcome no less than three teams from each league to the playoffs. The nine leagues that have had the postseason success (based on combined postseason winning percentage) over the past three seasons would be allotted four berths.

“We think this is a much more fair formula,” DeBoard said. “This way, every league gets the same amount (of qualifiers). We will probably have more playoff teams than we should, but we would rather have more than have some deserving teams not make it.”

Teams will still be placed in divisions according to their school population, whether or not the proposal is passed. Brackets would be seeded by a playoff committee. Surely there will still be those who feel slighted by their seedings, but Williams said the committee tracks the Section’s leagues every week.

“We do pay attention,” he said. “We don’t wake up at the end of the season and say, ‘OK, let’s seed these people.’”

Also discussed on Thursday:

•Another proposal up for a vote in October affects the soccer playoffs. It unfortunately comes one year too late for Ripon Christian’s girls soccer team, which enjoyed a historic 2012 run to the SJS Division VII title match.

The Knights were dealt a 3-0 loss by talented Bradshaw Christian, the Section’s two-time defending champion at the more-competitive Division VI. The Section proposes that championship teams not be allowed to drop a division the following year.

•While not on the agenda, Saco discussed his idea to further expand the California Interscholastic Federation Bowl Games. In 2012, the CIF held its first Northern and Southern California Regional Championships in which five games from each region determined who will play for each of the five divisional state titles.

Ten section titlists from each region are selected compete, but Saco would like to give all section champs a shot. He noted that football is the only CIF-sanctioned sport with a state tournament that leaves section champions hanging. The football season runs well into basketball these days, so creating larger brackets and adding more weeks would be tough.

Saco’s proposal — more state championships. He is throwing around the idea of having 24 total regional games and, in the end, crowning 12 different state champions.

•On the agenda was the revealing of school enrollments for the upcoming football season. Enrollment figures are from last year and are used to place schools in their appropriate population-based divisions. Manteca High (1,546) is the largest school in the Manteca area and will likely remain in Division III for the postseason. The same goes for East Union (1,527), while the city’s smallest school, Sierra (1,390), is closer to the Division III/IV bubble. Weston Ranch (1,185), Lathrop (1,115) and Ripon (895) are in Division IV. Ripon Christian (248) is part of the Division V/VI pool.

•The CIF’s new transfer rule was implemented last year. Now, first-year transfers without a change of residence or approved hardship are to sit out five weeks or 30 days for every sport he or she participated in over the previous 12 months. Student-athletes with a valid change of residence may play for his or her new school right away. DeBoard said there were 834 valid change of residences and more than 1,000 transfers in the section last year. He added that those numbers remain consistent to previous years without the rule.

•The 2014 SJS Hall of Fame class could include some familiar names. Section representatives dropped a few names, but it’s merely speculation at this point. Some of the notables are likely to be preoccupied during the tentative August 2014 ceremony. “Hopefully we can get Scott Brooks,” Saco said. The Oklahoma City Thunder head coach is a French Camp native who grew up in Lathrop and played his high school ball at East Union. New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia (Vallejo High) was also mentioned.

•Mother Nature was not kind to the SJS in 2012-13. Rain kept the crowds smaller than usual during the football playoffs last fall, and much of the money the Section earns is from postseason gate fees. The SJS lost $70,376.72 for the entire year. DeBoard said it may be the first year that the Section has lost money.