Sunday Coffee Report: HERtal Kombat

Sunday Coffee Report: HERtal Kombat

This will be a more extended Coffee Report, so get comfortable! 

Last night on Instagram, I teased a new “game” that I will incorporate into my high school basketball coverage this winter. 

“HERtal Kombat: Tier Wars” 

Quick background on the name. HERtal Kombat is based on the video game “Mortal Kombat,” which has been around for about three decades. It is a fighting game where you duke it out against an opponent until there is a winner. It’s pretty straightforward. 

Enter “HERtal Kombat” into the mix, where we won’t be fighting, but we will play basketball and compete for a championship at whatever division your school is in. 

What are “Tier Wars”? 

If you remember, last year, I expressed how I don’t like doing the classic numerical ranking system. I have no issue when other people and publications do it, but I feel like ranking teams 1 through 10 still leaves us with questions that need to be answered. I prefer a “Tier System,” where you put a collection of teams in different groups that indicate how they are playing throughout the season. This winter, I will create various Tiers to organize teams in which will alter and shift during the season based off of team performance.

What inspired HERtal Kombat?

Tier Wars was inspired by high school rankings lists from various publications. I’d read these lists and find them informative and helpful to understand the public school basketball landscape. For example, the MIAA does a great job with its rankings list every week, and it helps me figure out what the intriguing matchups are and learn about who the most dominant teams in Massachusetts are. By the time we get to the State Tournament, I feel knowledgeable and up to speed about the teams when the bracket comes out. I noticed that there isn’t a similar system in the NEPSAC. We, as fans, have a general idea of who the best teams are (or think we do), but what about the under-the-radar teams that have ripped off 7 straight wins? With the NEPSAC, we tend to base everything off of team reputation and not what actually is happening on the basketball court. So, last season when a team like New Hampton starts off 20-0 the general public are hesitant to acknowledge that they are one of the regions best teams. It is no one’s fault, there was just nothing to inform us consistently about what was going on. We never questioned Andover High and St. Mary’s (Lynn)’s level of play because every week the Boston Globe put it in our faces week after week that they were two of the states best teams based off their performance so whether you saw the games or not you had an easy way of identifying the hierarchy of the league.

So, I created NEPSAC Preseason Tiers. Just to have a starting point, I made 4 Tiers and capped it at 20 teams. 

Why 20 teams?

Because it is a round number, and when you look at a lot of preseason lists that is usually the magic number to start.

The Tiers are fluid. Meaning, teams can move up and down the Tiers depending on the game result. All I am doing is reading the scoreboard and basing the Tiers off of wins/losses, who the opponent is and how the team looks overall.

I will drop the Preseason Tiers the day after Thanksgiving, and the games begin! 

What to expect on Friday, 11/24?

  • NEPSAC Preseason Tiers
  • The Preseason Tier criteria 
  •  How tiers will be organized as the season progresses/frequency of Tier updates
  • And More!

Note: These Tiers have 0 impact on actual NEPSAC Playoff seeding. Whatever system they use to determine the playoff matchups is immaterial to HERtal Kombat. This is strictly a Bash thing and hoping to add a little fun to the season.

My ultimate goal is to give the players and teams something else to rally behind as a unit. If you are Tier 2 and playing a Tier 1 team, maybe it gives that team some extra juice. At the end of the day, I want to attempt to give NEPSAC the same buzz that other leagues and teams from state to state have.

What we will find out is that the league is one of the most competitive and talented in the country. I have watched enough basketball at the NEPSAC level to confidently say that with the Tier movement throughout the winter, we will see how close many of the NEPSAC teams are and why it is so difficult to maintain elite status over the course of a season. Which makes for an exciting Tournament week and Super Sunday. 

Note: I will still cover all basketball leagues and divisions across New England (MIAA, NHIAA, CIAC etc) , as always. This specific Tier Wars exercise is for NEPSAC ( for now…).

Stay Tuned!