Cage Coach Says Tourney Cheats Women : Pomona Mentor Claims Choice of Site Is ‘Tailored’ for Men’s Champ
The postseason tournament craze has hit the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. and most of the men’s and women’s basketball coaches in the conference are excited about it--except Darlene May. She doesn’t care for it one bit.
May, the Cal Poly Pomona women’s basketball coach, said her chief complaint is the tournament format, which has the top four men’s and women’s teams in the conference meeting in a two-day, single-elimination tournament at the site of the men’s champion.
“I think the whole format’s very poor,” said May, whose team won the NCAA Division II championship last year and is one of the favorites this year. “It’s tailored for the men’s champion and the women’s champion gets nothing. They have to play on somebody else’s court.”
Enthusiasm and Money
Dennis Keihn, athletic director at Cal State Los Angeles and CCAA president, said the tournament is intended to increase publicity and raise funds for the conference.
“I think the main ingredient is that it keeps the excitement in the conference race up on more campuses,” Keihn said. “We think it’s going to generate more enthusiasm and hopefully a little more publicity for the conference. I think it has the potential to be a money-maker.”
May doesn’t think the tournament will generate much money.
“I think it’s gonna’ fall flat on its face because only one team will be playing on its home floor,” May said. “Let’s say it’s in Bakersfield. Who from Southern California is going to go up to Bakersfield for a game? I just don’t see how the whole thing is going to make much money. It will cost some teams a lot of money just to go up some place (for the tournament).”
George Fisher, men’s basketball coach at Cal Poly Pomona, agreed that large crowds may not flock to the tournament, but he likes it for other reasons.
“My gut feeling is that by having a postseason tournament it will hopefully solidify having two teams in the NCAA tournament every year,” Fisher said. “Last year we had only one.”
Jim Newman, men’s basketball coach at Cal State L.A., agrees with Fisher. Newman’s team finished with an impressive 18-10 overall record and was ranked in the Division II top 20 last year, only to finish second to Cal State Northridge in the conference. Pomona did not receive an invitation to the NCAA playoffs.
The winners of the men’s and women’s CCAA tournaments will receive automatic berths in the Division II playoffs as the conference’s No. 1 representatives.
Besides increasing the chances of having more than one conference team make the NCAA playoffs, most coaches believe the postseason tournament will increase fan and player interest at the end of the regular season.
“If a team is in third or fourth place and they have one game to go, they know they’re not going to win it but they’re still going to give it all they have to get into the playoffs,” Newman said. “There’s a tendency of teams that are out of the race to slack off a bit.
“If you win a lot of games and don’t finish first in the conference, you usually just sit there twiddling your thumbs hoping to get in the (NCAA) tournament. With the postseason tournament, it gives you a chance to show you belong in the NCAA playoffs.”
Added Fisher: “I think it increases the interest in the conference race and it gives the players something to grasp for. There are some teams that may not be able to win it (the conference title), but they could finish fourth and get into the tournament.”
Fisher, whose team finished last in the conference last season, said the postseason tournament is a positive step because of the close conference races in recent years, at least in the men’s division.
Men’s Teams ‘Pretty Even’
“It’s pretty even from top to bottom and I think the tournament will reflect that,” he said.
That has not been the case in the women’s division, which Cal Poly Pomona has dominated since it joined the conference in 1982.
“It seems to me that they’re throwing us a bone and they’re not really that interested in the women,” May said.
May said she submitted alternate proposals for a postseason tournament to conference officials but no other format was considered.
“I don’t think it’s against the women in any way,” Keihn said. “I see this as highlighting both programs, not just the men’s.”
Keihn said the format is not etched in stone and changes are inevitable.