Move Over Simonet, Sigurdsson is the New ESPN Sports Center Top 10 Handball King

Sigurdsson with the punch in goal vs Serbia

Last September, Montpellier’s Diego Simonet made the ESPN Sports Center Top 10 plays of the day with a nifty goal in a Champions League match vs Metalurg.  To date his goal has gotten 1.2M views on Instagram.  A nice viewership to be sure, but he’s now been eclipsed by Iceland’s Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson who’s only needed 21 hours to get 1.6M views for his 2nd chance punch in goal following a penalty shot vs Serbia at the European Championships.

Much like Simonet, Sigurdsson’s efforts has received thousands of comments along the lines of “what’s that sport”, “Is that something a PE teacher made up”, and “this should be on the Ocho” (A Dodgeball movie reference that poked fun at ESPN’s expanding family of networks).

I’m a little tired of beating the dead horse into a pulp, but what the heck, why not?  The lack of awareness the sport has in this problem isn’t just one problem among many the sport faces in this country.

IT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM.

Fix this problem and all other problems will become easier to solve.  Nothing demonstrates this more than the thousands of comments that accompany this video.

To the EHF’s great credit every match of the ongoing Men’s European Championships are available for viewing, both live and on demand.  Further, they are high quality web streams with English language commentary.  For the dedicated handball fan it is truly a phenomenally great deal.  And, it’s 100% free.  How could I possibly complain?

Well, because the EHF and others don’t need to convince me and the other 300 or so super fans of the sport in the U.S.  They need to be laser focused on finding a way to turn that 300 into 3,000, then 30,000, then 300,000.  Seriously, 300 fans in the world’s biggest market?  How can that possibly be?  It’s a mind boggling small number for such a great sport.  And, nothing could fix that faster than decent TV exposure.

The Need to Find the Right TV Network Partner?

While a free video stream is pretty cool, potential new fans aren’t likely to accidentally type in www.ehfTV.com and get converted.  The way people watch sports is evolving, but TV is still king in 2018.  A good TV network partner can lead the potential new fan to the sport.  ESPN gave handball a freebie with exposure on its flagship show, Sports Center, but I doubt they also gave everyone a heads up on where to watch online.  (For sure they took down my post with a link to ehfTV.)  But, they sure would have if the matches were shown on one of their networks or even their online platform.  And, there likely would be more than just the occasional spectacular goal making the top 10.

For too long, not enough effort has been given by the EHF, IHF and others to find the right network.  Getting on TV in the U.S. was seen as something nice if it happened, but of minor importance.  And, then it seemed that any network would do.  How else to explain beIN Sports US, which currently has the U.S. TV rights for most of the major handball properties, but chooses not to broadcast on TV anymore.

There are, however, signs of change on the horizon.  The IHF has a new contract for the World Championships with MP&Silva so a new network could be showing that event next January.  And, the EHF is in the process of reviewing 4 bids for a mega ten year contract from 2020-2030.  I’ve been told that the U.S. market development is a big part of this review, so I’ve got some cautious optimism for the future.

Or, Maybe a TV Partner isn’t Needed?

But, then again while TV is king, maybe it won’t be much longer.  The way people watch sports is evolving at a pretty fast pace.  I, for one am pretty happy with ehfTV.  The NBC OTT platform in the 2016 Olympics was seriously awesome too.  All of the major networks have OTT platforms and reportedly ESPN is upgrading their platform to address the drop in traditional cable TV viewers.  Maybe the partner won’t be a TV partner, but a digital streaming partner.

And, maybe you don’t even need a partner?  Perhaps with the right marketing campaign a dedicated handball online streaming platform could take off its own.  Seriously, my daughters watch “Youtubers” that make millions of dollars a year.  How are those less than awesome videos discovered?  Could a combination of social media and advertisement create a stand alone platform for the word’s handball community.

The Deadest Weekend of the Year:  Couldn’t Handball Replace Ice Fishing?

In the U.S., the NFL is king and there is a 2 week gap between the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl.  The weekend between those 2 events is sometimes called the deadest sports weekend of the year.  Everyone is waiting for the big game and they’re not quite ready to shift their attention to basketball.  And, often that deadest weekend coincides with either the European Championship or World Championship Final.  One might think this would be an opportunity, but sadly it hasn’t in years past.  In 2012, I did this review of what was on every available sports channel in the U.S.  Yes, depressingly the NBC Sports Network had an Ice Fishing showing on.  Ice Fishing! And, yes I’ve actually been ice fishing.  Boring to do. Mind boggling boring to watch.

Here’s hoping that next year around this time we’ll be celebrating a World Championship Final on a major U.S. Network.  It has to happen sooner or later.  I suggest sooner is the better option.

2018 Men’s Asian Handball Championships (Where to Watch)

The 2018 Men’s Asian Handball Championships will start tomorrow (Thursday, 18 January) and conclude on Sunday, 28 January.  The tournament will take place in Suwon, South Korea with 14 nations vying for 3 spots in the 2019 World Championships.  New to the competition will be Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh and it will be interesting to see how they fare.

Also of interest will be clashes between nations that to varying degrees are in some form of political conflict.  The Qatar – Saudi Arabia border has been closed for several months and those two nations will play on Saturday.  Iran has also reportedly been supporting rebel factions in Yemen so a handball clash with some of the Arab nations supporting the government might possibly prove contentious.

Key Links for Following and Hopefully Watching the Competition

A Korean contact has forwarded several links where video should be available.

  • Korean Federation Facebook Site: Link
  • Korean Federation Youtube Site:  Link
  • Naver Video:  Link (sometimes with on demand feeds)

Note:  Online automatic translation often doesn’t translate Korean fully.  I will update and add direct links to videos as they become available.

General Information Sites

  • Asian Handball Federation Website:  Link
  • Wikipedia Page:  Link

Inaugural Team Handball News Collegiate Top 5 Poll (Jan 2018)

The first ever “Team Handball News Collegiate Top 5 Poll” is out and to no one’s surprise Army (West Point) is the unanimous 1st place pick by all 9 voters.  In fact, having won 11 straight national titles it’s a pretty safe bet that they would have had been ranked #1 consistently since 2006 (when they lost to North Carolina) if the poll had been in existence.  Army is 2-0-0 in collegiate matches with wins over Air Force (26-22) and Virginia (20-16).  Overall, they’ve compiled a less impressive 5-0-6 record, but those 6 losses were to clubs either ranked in the Top 5 (Open Poll including non-collegiate clubs) or teams from Canada.  Army is also currently in 2nd place in the Northeast Team Handball League.

Ranked 2nd is Air Force, which as previously mentioned had a 4 goal loss to arch rival Army and has an overall 2-4 record.  In December they placed 4th at the Texas Cup in Dallas with respectable losses to Chicago Inter and SF Cal Heat.  Nipping at Air Force’s heels is Virginia, which has a 3-0-0 collegiate record with victories over James Madison (29-12), Army’s 2nd Team (22-21) and Carolina’s 2nd Team (25-10) to go along with their loss to top ranked Army.  Virginia’s overall record is 4-1-4 and they were the top placing collegiate team (3rd) at the Fall Tar Heel Tourney.

In 4th place is Illinois St which is 4-0-0 in collegiate play with victories over Cincinnati (17-16), Ohio St (17-16), Miami (OH) 26-21, and Ohio St’s 2nd Team (19-14).  Overall, though they are 4-0-4 and suffered heavy losses to Chicago Inter and Barrington, a team actually mostly composed of high schoolers.  Rounding out the top 5 is Ohio St which with a 5-0-4 mark has played the most collegiate games.  They won their own tournament, the Buckeye Fall Classic, but had a less than stellar performance at Miami (OH) Red Hawk Tourney.

USA Club (Match Results):  Link
USA Club (Ranking and Statistical Data): Link

Team Handball News Collegiate Poll Sponsorship

Bryan Cothorn will continue to organize all the statistical data and tabulate the poll votes, but after some minor wrangling I’ve convinced him to let Team Handball News sponsor the Collegiate Ranking.  Bryan will also be doing polls for the Men’s and Women’s clubs, but I’m choosing to take a special interest in the college poll and the college game in general.

There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, for college sports there’s quite a bit of tradition when it comes to polling.  With hundreds of colleges playing sports in a hodge podge patchwork of conferences nationwide a national poll, for better or worse, has often been the only way to gage where teams stand.  Indeed, for college football it was actually how the National Champion was determined until 1998. (An absolutely ridiculous method that has now been partially fixed) Polls are a college tradition and I’m glad to see that team handball is joining the pantheon of college sports with its very own poll.

The other reason is that I think the college game should get more attention in emphasis than it does currently in this country.  I highlighted some of the issues surrounding the college game in these commentaries.

CHARTING A WAY FORWARD FOR USA TEAM HANDBALL: OPTION 4:  UPGRADE AND EXPAND COLLEGIATE TEAM HANDBALL
Part 1: Background: Link
Part 2: Strategies to Implement: Link

In the coming weeks I’ll be following up with some additional thoughts on ways to improve the quality of play and provide greater publicity/exposure to the college game.

2018 European Championships Odds, Analysis and Notes

France vs Norway:  A rematch of the World Championships Final on Day 1.  What a way to start the European Championships.

The 2018 European Championships start today and as usual France are the established favorites for this major tournament.  They are closely followed by hosts Croatia and Olympic Champions, Denmark.  Further down the list are Spain, defending champions Germany and World Championship runners up, Norway.

2018 European Championships Odds (Courtesy of Best Betting)

Nation Odds
France 2.25 to 1
Croatia 3 to 1
Denmark 4.25 to 1
Spain 8 to 1
Germany 9 to 1
Norway 14 to 1
Sweden 25 to 1
Slovenia 40 to 1
Hungary 50 to 1
Serbia 100 to 1
Macedonia 200 to 1
Iceland 225 to 1
Belarus 500 to 1
Czech Rep 500 to 1
Austria 1000 to 1
Montenegro 1000 to 1

Analysis

The EHF website has a nice preview article on each nation participating.
EHF “Countdown” articles on each nation: Link

The Stregspiller Website has several good interview and previews of the tournament and the chances of the top teams

Sascha Staat on Germany:  Link
Kevin Domas on France: Link
Peter Bruun’s Overall Preview:  Link

Peter Bruun’s summary is excellent and I pretty much concur with all of his analysis.  In particular, the following:

“Still, France possesses sufficient power and quality to be my top pick for winning the title.  However, much will depend on the performance of Nikola Karabatic – more so now than ever before. France with or without their charismatic leader is a very different team, and if Karabatic can’t deliver, “Les Bleus” won’t even reach the semi-finals.”

Recently, I was amused somewhat about twitter postings regarding possible MVPs and key players for the tournament.  Amused in that there wasn’t much talk about Karabatic, who I still think is the best player in the world.  (Probably, the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) as well, but, that’s fodder for a longer commentary).  And, for sure, shepherding this talented, but relatively inexperienced team to a title as a 33 year old veteran would be a big legacy statement.  But, then again flaming out in the Main Round would also make a statement.

I’m a little bit less enamored with Croatia despite being the host.  As with France and Karabatic much of Croatia’s success hinges on Domagoj Duvnjak.  Reportedly, he’s back in fine form after being out for several months due to injury, but I will need to see that with my own eyes in a non-friendly match to believe it.  Perhaps they can still be willed into the semifinals as the host nation regardless, but I have my doubts.  Looking to the Main Round the would be Norway-Croatia match might be pivotal for advancement

In Groups C and D, I think Denmark and Germany are pretty clear favorites and it wouldn’t surprise me if they both end up with unblemished records, excepting of course their head to head matchup.  Spain could surprise, but I don’t think any of the other teams have the personnel to match up with them.

For the Final Four.  I’ll go with France beating Germany in one semi and Denmark beating Norway in the other.  And, then France getting revenge over Denmark in the Final.

Gotta Love the Format

Personally, I wax and wane as to whether the Preliminary/Knock out stage or Preliminary/Main Round format is better.  There’s a lot of drama in a Round of 16, but, this European Championship sure makes a strong case for the latter.  Day 1 and we’ve got a rematch of the WC Final between Norway and France.  A match that could very well put the loser on the cusp of not making the semifinals.  Wow, talk about a riveting way to start out the tourney!

EHF Stepping Up their Game on the Media Side:  Link

Well, I’ll jump the gun a bit and assume that the EHF will not have any geoblocking of the championship like 2 years ago.  Hopefully, a good assumption.  Every match should be available at ehfTV live and on demand.  Viewers in the U.S. should get their “boss key” working as pretty much every day for the next 2 weeks will have 3 or 4 matches available for viewing around Mid-day depending on your time zone.

Further, it looks like they will have a daily show with highlights and interviews which should be an outstanding way to catch up on the competition and get fired up for the upcoming matches.  They will also be live tweeting conversations and Snap Chat.

 

Podcast (Episode 27): Sterne School Handball Coach, Craig Brewer

The Sterne School Dolphins, 2017 Youth Cal Cup Champions

This past November, The Sterne School of San Francisco won their 2nd consecutive Youth Cal Cup title. Joining me on the podcast is their head coach Craig Brewer.  Craig was the 2016 USA Team Handbal Youth Development Handball Coach of the Year and has been involved with education for 20 years.  We discuss the genesis of the Sterne School handball program and how the San Francisco Cal Heat Club has helped develop Middle School and High School Handball in the Bay Area.  We also discuss the challenges of starting a High School handball program and brainstorm some options for further handball growth in American Schools.

Sterne School: Link

SF Cal Heat: Link

Video of Sterne School vs Bayhill:  Link

Youth CalCup 2017: Bayhill vs. Sterne – 2nd half

Posted by San Francisco CalHeat Team Handball Club on Saturday, November 18, 2017

 

Link to commentary on football positions ideal for handball: Link


The Unofficial sponsor of this podcast episode was ehfTV and the 2018 Men’s European Championships.  Catch all the action from 12-28 January, for free, live and on demand on ehfTV. The world’s best option for handball web streaming.


If you would like to advertise on the Team Handball News Podcast contact John Ryan at john.ryan@teamhandballnews.com

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Well, it Had to Happen Sooner or Later:  Barcelona’s Unbeaten Streak is Snapped after 133 Matches and What it Says about Long Shot Chances in Handball

Big News in Spain: Barcelona played a Liga Asobal handball match and didn’t win it.

In the midst of the Women’s World Championships this past December a pretty significant Liga Asobal Men’s club match was played in Guadalajara, Spain where the host team managed a 26-26 draw against, Barcelona, one of the best club teams in the world.

Why was that draw significant?  Well, because not since May 18, 2013, when they lost to Naturhouse La Riolla, 33-31 had Barcelona failed to win a match in Spain’s top competition.  A staggering 133 straight victories and 4 straight undefeated 30-0-0 seasons from 2013 to 2017.  Back in 2013, I wrote a commentary on how the financial crisis in 2008 had set in motion the tumbling of what was once the World’s 2nd best league to merely an afterthought competition.  Essentially, Barca and everybody else.

Still, 133 straight victories?  No upsets along the way? This is not simply a matter of amateurs vs pros.  The other teams in the league aren’t what they once were, but they are sides still mostly, if not entirely, composed of professional athletes.  Granollers and Leon have had decent teams the past few years.  Perhaps if you ranked every single club in Europe, they’d be somewhere in the top 30.  Top 50, for sure. They’ve each had 8 shots at taking Barca down.  Plus, the home court advantage for half those games.  Crazy things can happen with “home cookin” if you know what I mean.  I don’t care how much better the opposition is.

One couldn’t imagine such a string of victories in American professional sports.  There’s just way more parity even if there have been some pretty dominant teams over the years like the present day Golden State Warriors.

Just how lacking in parity is the Liga Asobal?  Well, I would ascertain, that Barcelona has the league’s best player at every position.  Probably, the 2 best players at every position.  Heck, there might not be another athlete on all the other teams combined who could find a spot on their roster.  OK, that might be a stretch, but for sure nobody playing on any of the other teams would start for Barcelona.  And, not only are the players better at every position they are significantly better.  There’s a huge gap in talent.

Still, 133 straight victories?

Handball is Just Not the Sport for the Big Shock Upset

But, then again maybe 133 straight wins isn’t such a shocker.  When you’re looking for the really big upset in sports there are several factors that come into play.

  • How hard is it to score? Games with a lot of scoring are less prone to upsets because the odds dictate that the better team is going to get its points and the weaker team will be faced with the prospect of matching and scoring more.  But, if the the prospect of scoring is challenging even for a great team it open the door to the possibility of a huge upset by even totally outmanned opposition.  And, no other sport demonstrates this as ably as soccer where a game can be won, 1-0.  Entirely amateur sides have knocked off dramatically superior opposition in such games over the years.  More often than not the top side wins 5-0, but every once in a while a lucky goal goes in off a corner kick and the dramatically inferior side puts 11 players in the box and prays the pro side can’t find the back of the net.
  • How many opportunities are there to score? This essentially relates to the variability in outcomes over time.  The longer the game, the more chances to score, the more likely it is the better team will eventually come out on top.  It’s just statistics really.  For any 5 minutes in a 60 minute game, the weaker team might outperform the stronger team.  A team will miss a shot, but if they get to keep shooting, it’s only a matter of time before talent wins out.  But, if there are fewer opportunities or it’s a game of shorter duration then the upset becomes more possible.  There are a couple of sports that demonstrate this well.  One is Rugby 7s where a minor rugby nation like the U.S. can knock off New Zealand without causing much of a real surprise in this 14 minute compact game.  Whereas a USA Rugby 15s victory over New Zealand would be epic.  Another game:  Beach Handball where a USA victory over a top team would be a minor surprise, but the same win over a European team in court handball would again be epic.
  • How much difference can one player’s great performance make? In some sports an incredibly great game by one athlete can make all the difference.  A great pitcher in baseball can throw a no-hitter.  A basketball player can shoot out the lights from 3 point land.  The closest thing to something similar happening in handball is a commanding goalie performance.  And, I’ve seen it happen, on occasion, but in reality such a performance might realistically mean chopping the talent gap 4-5 goals.

Handball is a game where 2 of these 3 factors always work against the dramatically weaker team.  And, even the 3rd possibility of a great individual performance is muted somewhat in its effectiveness.  Upsets do happen in handball.  But, those upsets typically occur in matches where the talent gap between the two sides is actually somewhat modest.  Think, the French women’s recent upset of Norway.  There was a gap in talent, but not a chasm and goalie play/defense overcame it.  But, the bigger the gap widens in terms of talent the chances of a shock upset increase dramatically, probably exponentially.

Unwittingly, a Test Case for Other Handball Odds Assessments

I’ve written a couple of commentaries (Link 1, Link 2) where I’ve tried to critically assess the odds of the U.S. National Teams to qualify for the Olympics and the World Championships.  As, I did my assessment I struggled a bit to try and quantify the differences between long shots, big long shots and really, really long shots.  It’s a theoretical contemplation for sure to entertain the differences between 5-1, 10-1, 50-1, 100-1, 250-1, etc.   And, the USA Women are never going to play Brazil a thousand times to get some good data that might back up assertions on just how long are the odds for a long shot upset.

But, Barcelona’s 133 straight victory run over the past four years probably serves as a pretty good approximation.  Heck, one could argue that the gap in talent between Barcelona and the typical also run Liga Asobal team is less than the gap that exists between the U.S. and Brazil Women.  Much like the gap I described above I don’t think a single American would make the Brazilian roster.  The Brazilian roster is composed mostly of athletes playing on tier 1 teams in Europe.  The U.S. has maybe a couple of players that with some more competitive experience could possibly make the roster of a tier 2 side in Europe, but the bulk of the roster, while hard working is tier 3 at best.  Even with Brazil’s disappointing World Championship performance there is still a massive talent gap.  We could argue as to whether the possibility of an upset is a 100-1, 250-1 or 500-1 proposition, but there should be little doubt that it’s a big number.

And, the double whammy the U.S. Men face in having to beat 2 significantly superior sides, Brazil and Argentina is aptly displayed.  Seriously, what do you think the chances are of Barcelona losing 2 games, back to back in the Liga Asobal anytime soon?   As, I previously highlighted needing 2 upsets means a really big number.  Maybe the 2,500 to 1, is even right on the money

I wish this was all simply a total nonsense speculative assessment.  I wish the U.S. had a realistic shot at Olympic qualification. I also wish we would stop kidding ourselves and start thinking long and hard about how to transform the sport of handball in this country.  To take advantage of the 10 years we’ve been given leading up to the 2028 Olympics to do things right.  I’m beginning to think the odds of that happening, though, maybe isn’t much better than our 2020 Olympic Qualification prospects.  Call me Don Quixote if you will, but, I’ll keep advocating and asking the burning questions until somebody starts thinking maybe we should try to answer them.

And, here’s a closing thought for you.  Barcelona’s 133 game victory streak may be over, but the 136 game unbeaten streak marches on.  Yeah, the match in question was a draw.  I’m thinking if there had been extra time Barca would probably have kept their winning streak.  And, Guadalajara also ran into Barcelona in the semifinals of the Copa Asobal a few weeks later with the opportunity to show everyone that the draw was no fluke.  Final score?  Barcelona 36, Guadalajara 22.

USA Women’s Trip to France:  Summary of Results and Top Level Analysis   

USA Women on defense vs Belgium

The USA Women recently traveled to France for some training and friendly competition.  Here’s a summary of their match results based on information obtained from French Club, the Belgian Federation, USA Team Handball website and various social media accounts:

16 December  USA vs Paris Saint-Germain 26-18 (Halftime 12-10)
17 December  USA vs Belgium 29-31 (11-12)
19 December  USA vs Belgium 21-31 (13-14)
20 December  USA vs HBCSA 19-31 (10-13)
21 December  USA vs Lomme Lille Metropole 24-29 (11-14)

Background on the Competition

Here’s some very top level analysis on the competition Team USA faced during the trip.  “Very top level” in that other than a few video clips I did not see any of the matches.  The relative quality of the French club team can be assessed by the division they play in.  Unlike their male counterparts (one of the world’s top clubs), the Paris S-G women play in somewhat obscurity in France’s N2F, effectively the 4th Division in France’s confusing club hierarchy nomenclature.   They entered the winter break with a 3-1-4 record and are in 7th place in their pool.   HBCSA plays in France’s 2nd Division and they had compiled a 4-1-3 record so far this season and are in 5th place.  Lomme Lille Metropole plays in France’s N1F (effectively the 3rd level) and had a 4-2-2 record and are in 4th place in their pool.

As far as to the level of the Belgian Women’s team there’s not very much in terms of recent results to assess how good they are.  According to Belgian native Jan Vanderstraeten, who plays for the Portland Sasquatch the Belgium ladies have only recently restarted their program after 13 years of not playing in international competition.  Overall, handball in Belgium is a significantly lower level than most countries in Europe, but they are now taking steps to develop their program.

Team USA Makes Do with Thin Roster

The U.S. was missing several key players and was particularly lacking in backcourt experience.  Further, with 3 goalies on the 13 player roster leaving only 10 court players available such a thin roster had to be a concern going into the trip.

Team USA Roster

Taking into account the thin roster, a 1-4 record with 2 lopsided losses against modest competition is not a surprise to me.  Playing 5 matches in 6 days is really demanding for a team with a full roster of experienced players and the U.S. was clearly short handed. Truth be told, it could have been worse and the U.S. is commended for easily taking care of the 4th division team, playing Belgium close in the first game and then playing the 2nd Division side close for a half.  Again, having not seen the matches I can only guess that the U.S. ran out of gas in the 2nd halves of the 2nd match vs Belgium and against HBCSA.

Finally, if one compares this trip’s results to the trip taken last January to France there are signs of progress.  For sure, last year’s trip had a more robust roster, but yet actually compiled more disappointing results against similar competition.  If the U.S. roster had included Andersen, Butler and Van Ryn helping out in the backcourt this team would surely have fared better.

Photos: USA vs Belgium Link Link

Belgian Federation Reports on matches: Link Link

Handzone.net (France) Report on match vs HBCSA: Link

Photos: USA vs Lomme Lille Metropole: Link

USA Team Handball Preview of Trip: Link

 

Podcast (Episode 26):  Japanese Women’s Handball Coach, Ulrik Kirkely

Japan’s Head Coach, Ulrik Kirkely urges his team on at the World Championships

The Japanese Women’s National Handball Team had a breakthrough performance at the 2017 Women’s World Championships with wins against Montenegro and Tunisia, a draw vs Brazil, and a 1 goal loss to Russia in Group play.  They then played arguably the most entertaining match of the tournament in the round of 16 losing by 2 goals in Extra Time to the eventual bronze medalists, the Netherlands.

Coach Kirkely and I discuss Japan’s performance at the World Championships, handball organization/development in Japan and the future prospects for the Women’s team heading into the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Olympics, both of which will be hosted by Japan.


This podcast episode was brought to you by Nord VPN.

Ever go online to try and live stream a great handball match only to get the dreaded geo block notice telling you that the match isn’t available in your country?  When you would even be happy to pay to see it, but can’t even do that because the network that owns the rights chooses not to broadcast?  Sometimes it just makes you want to give up and go watch some more football.

Well, I can’t guarantee you that Nord VPN will solve all your handball viewing problems.  I can only state, that I personally am a very happy camper now and with plans as low as $3.29/month it’s worth every penny and then some.

Finally, I bet you’ve seen the ads from sketchy websites offering you matches for free as long as you download their customized video player.  And, after hesitating a bit you caved in only to be inflicted with incredibly slow computer speeds or worse, viruses.  That’s a legitimate concern with those sites, but not with Nord VPN which has top ratings and reviews from PC Mag, Wired and others.

Sign up for Nord VPN today: Link


If you would like to advertise on the Team Handball News Podcast contact John Ryan at john.ryan@teamhandballnews.com

Subscribe to the Team Handball News Podcast in iTunes: Link

Or use this RSS Feed to sign up for the podcast in your favorite podcast aggregator: Link

USA Men’s Club Rankings (1st Poll and Some Background Info)

First USA Men’s Club Poll (December 2017) (Rest of the Top 25: Link)

The first poll ranking the top men’s clubs in the U.S. has been released with the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) edging New York City (NYC) for the top spot.  NYAC’s resume so far this season consists of a 5-0-0 record and a Michael Lipov Tournament title in Chicago this past October.  NYC is also undefeated with a spotless 6-0-0 in Northeast Team Handball League play.

Rounding out the top 5 are Chicago Inter, Revol and San Francisco CalHeat.  Chicago Inter has a 16-1-1 record and is dominating play in the Midwest Team Handball League, placed 2nd to NYAC at the Michael Lipov Tourney and won the inaugural Texas Cup earlier in December.  Revol, a new side consisting mostly of current and former Residency Program players at Auburn has a 3-0-2 record from the Chicago Tourney where they took 3rd place.  Rounding out the top 5 is San Francisco Cal Heat with a 6-0-4 record, a 4th place finish in Chicago and a 2nd place finish in Texas.

Background on the Ranking Process

The bulk of the credit for this undertaking goes to Bryan Cothorn with the DC Diplomats and Northeast Team Handball League.  Bryan has compiled the results and tabulated several different ranking statistics at this website:  Link

Further, he rounded up several volunteers to review this data plus factor in their own personal observations to come up with their own individual ranking.  These individual rankings are then combined to produce the overall club ranking: Link

Background on Rankings (in General)

The concept of “rankings” may be common knowledge to many American sports fans, but as there are a fair number of expats involved with handball in the U.S. here’s a brief explanation/history as it relates to sports rankings.

First off, let’s be clear:  These rankings have no “official” bearing.  They are not endorsed by USA Team Handball and they won’t be used to select teams for the Elite National Championship bracket.  That process for selecting will card teams is defined in the rule book and those current standings are here: Link

It’s possible that these rankings could be used by some tournament organizers to seed pools, but that’s not officially defined anywhere.

As far as guidelines for the voters, much like the NCAA polls used for college sports there are no hard and fast rules.  Voters are free to weigh different factors as they see fit.  I’m one of the voters and I’ll tend to put more emphasis on key head to head results.  But, if two clubs are close to each other I’ll probably reward the club that plays in a league and practices once in awhile.  You don’t like that?  Tough. As Bobby Brown once told America over and over, “It’s my prerogative, I can do what I wanna to do

So what’s the purpose of the rankings, then?  Well, it’s simply for fun and recognition.  To acknowledge teams for their performances on the court.  Bragging rights, if you will.  To give some context to matchups that are taking place.  It may not be official per se, but it adds a little bit more to your pregame pep talk to say that you are taking on the #1 team in the nation.  And, it can really mean a lot for a newcomer team crack the top 10 after years of being just another team.

And, for sure, part of the fun are the debates that inevitably arise. The chip on their shoulder a team gets when they are somehow ranked way lower than they think they should be.  Stupid voters! How come we can’t get any respect?  East Coast bias!  NYAC shouldn’t be #1.  Those lazy mercenaries don’t even bother to play in the Northeast League any more. Chicago Inter may have 16 wins, but how many of those W’s are just beating up on weak Midwest opponents? etc, etc.

Future Considerations

We’ve already gotten some great feedback and we’re looking at adding a Women’s poll.  I’m adding a college specific poll that will place extra emphasis on college vs college results.  And, I’m also planning on adding some Wiki style pages that will make it easier for everyone to see the results of different competitions.  And, better yet, hopefully for players and coaches to enter the results themselves.

Finally, we would like to get some more balanced representation from other parts of the country so if you’re interested in voting please contact Bryan Cothorn.

 

2017 Women’s World Championships Odds (Update for the Round of 16)

Russia beat Norway 38-37 in an epic semifinal at the 2016 Olympics. We could be looking at a rematch in the Quarterfinals.

The knockout stages of the World Championships start today and the bracket certainly has some interesting matchups both in the Round of 16 and potentially in the quarter finals.  Most notably, Sweden’s surprising upset of Norway on the last day of pool play created a bottom half of the bracket which is loaded with pre-tournament favorites.  Here’s a breakdown of the 4 quadrants of the bracket (listed in parentheses is each team’s current odds courtesy of Nordicbet to win the championship).  The winner of each quadrant will advance to the Final Four.

Watch all the matches in the knockout stages on Fubo TV:  Link

Quadrant 1

Sweden 16-1
Slovenia 74-1

Germany 23-1
Denmark 16-1

Well, conspiracy theorists thinking that perhaps the hosts and the IHF wanted to give Germany a good shot at making the Final Four might have some pretty solid arguments backing their case.  This is the weakest bracket and for sure the prospect of Germany knocking off Sweden in the quarterfinals is far better than it would have been against Norway.

Quadrant 2

Hungary 20-1
France 7-1

Serbia 17-1
Montenegro 14-1

France is the favorite in this bracket, but really all four teams here have a decent shot at advancing.

Quadrant 3

Romania 14-1
Czech Republic 149-1

Japan 149-1
Netherlands 7-1

It looks as if it’s preordained for Romania and the Netherlands will battle in the quarterfinals, but then again the Netherlands had a surprising loss vs South Korea in pool play.  The Japanese are smaller than the Koreans, but even quicker so the Dutch better be ready for them.

Quadrant 4

Spain 40-1
Norway 1.3-1

Russia 4.5-1
South Korea 39-1

This quadrant could almost have been a Final Four with 3 of the top 7 pre-tournament favorites.  A likely quarterfinal match between Russia and Norway could easily have been the gold medal final.  Honestly, the way this shapes up it’s as if Norway wanted to make the knockout stages as interesting as possible for the fans back home.

Podcast (Episode 25):  Women’s World Championships: Pan American Update

Brasil comes up short vs Denmark. Can they beat Montenegro in their last pool play match and sneak into the Round of 16?

Argentinian sports journalist, Laura Agena, is in Germany following Group B and we discuss the World Championships with a focus on Pan American sides, Argentina and Brazil.  But, we can’t help but talk about the Norwegian dominance and a surprising Japanese side.   This discussion took place on Wednesday night so we are a little more than half way through Pool Play

This podcast episode was brought to you by fubo.tv.  Watch all the World Championship matches on beIN Sports thought the Fubo TV app.  Sign up for Fubo here: Link

 

If you would like to advertise on the Team Handball News Podcast contact John Ryan at john.ryan@teamhandballnews.com

Subscribe to the Team Handball News Podcast in iTunes: Link

Or use this RSS Feed to sign up for the podcast in your favorite podcast aggregator: Link

2017 Women’s World Championships Odds

Netherlands has been in the Finals of the past two major tournaments. Can they make it to the top rung this time?

I’m going to pass on predictions for the Women’s World Championships because I haven’t followed the women’s game very closely since last December’s European Championships.

If you’re looking for some good insight check out the Handball Hour’s podcast with Bjorn Pazen and Sascha Staat’s preview commentary at Stregspiller:  Same Old Story?

I will say, though, that if you take their commentary and cross reference it with the published odds, you’ll see that the bookmakers might be undervaluing the Netherland’s chances.

Of interest to followers of handball in Pan America, will be whether Brazil, which has stumbled a bit in pre-tournament friendlies can perform better in the actual tournament.  Meanwhile Argentina, if they can spring a surprise might just have their best opportunity in their first match vs the Czech Republic on Saturday.

 All odds courtesy of Nordic Bet

Odd to win the 2017 Women’s World Championships

Norway                1.2 to 1
Russia                   6.5 to 1
France                  7 to 1
Netherlands       11 to 1
Spain                     15 to 1
Germany             15 to 1
Romania              15 to 1
Sweden                19 to 1
Denmark             21 to 1
Brazil                     23 to 1
Hungary               24 to 1
South Korea       29 to 1
Serbia                   49 to 1
Montenegro      49 to 1
Poland                  199 to 1
Slovenia               249 to 1
Angola                  299 to 1
Czech Republic 499 to 1
Japan                    999 to 1
China                     1499 to 1
Argentina            1999 to 1
Tunisia                  2499 to 1
Paraguay             2999 to 1
Cameroon           2999 to 1

Winner of Group A
France                  11/13
Spain                     2/1
Romania              5/2
Angola                  40/1
Slovenia               40/1
Paraguay             500/1

Winner of Group B
Norway                2/9
Sweden               9/2
Hungary               15/2
Poland                  30/1
Czech Republic 30/1
Argentina            149/1

Winner of Group C
Russia                   9/14
Brazil                     29/10
Denmark             29/10
Montenegro      8/1
Japan                    249/1
Tunisia                  599/1

Winner of Group D
Netherlands       11/13
Germany             8/5
South Korea       5/1
Serbia                   13/2
Cameroon           100/1
China                     100/1

Watch the 2017 IHF Women’s World Championships on Fubo TV

USA handball fans can watch every match of the Women’s World Championships on Fubo TV

Tomorrow at 6:45 PM (CET) (12:45 PM EST in the U.S), hosts Germany will take on Cameroon in the first match of the 2017 IHF Women’s World Championships.  In the U.S., all matches can be seen live on the beIN Sports digital platform, beIN Sports Connect.

And, now even if you don’t subscribe to beIN Sport through your cable or satellite TV provider you can still access all 84 matches on beIN Sports Connect via Fubo.tv.  Yes, Fubo.tv, the premiere home for streaming soccer for the next 17 days will also be the home for streaming handball.

With a subscription to Fubo TV you can watch matches on your computer, tablet, phone or my favorite , a connected TV.  Yes, you can stream all 10 of the beIN Sports Connect channels on TV via your Roku just like you stream Netflix or Hulu.  This can be done by first adding the Fubo TV channel to your Roku and then logging in with your Fubo TV account information.  (But, don’t delay, it took me a couple of minutes to load it in and you don’t want to wait till match time.)

Fubo TV offers a free 7 day trial so it won’t cost you to see how well it works with your computer and/or TV.

Fubo TV Trial sign up: Link

(Note: An earlier version of this article indicated that Canadian residents could also watch the World Championships on beIN Sports Connect/Fubo TV, but I have since learned that only 3 beIN Sports channels are available.  It may be possible, however, to use VPN as a workaround.)