Exposure = criticism

February 20, 2009 | Keith Melchior

The more you are in the public eye, the more critical people will be of your every move. Gary Williams has taken Maryland to the NIT tournament more than the NCAA tournament in the last 6 years and there’s a good chance they may return to the NIT unless they can catch lightning in a bottle in the next 3 weeks. Gary is criticized more since he is at a major college and is seen on television just about every game. He loses and people want his head on a platter.

Maryland isn’t the only NCAA division 1 school around these parts. Morgan, Coppin, Loyola, UMBC, Mt St Marys, and Towson all have equal opportunities to make it to the big dance in mid-March. Last season Coppin, UMBC and St Marys all made it to the field of 65. Although they didn’t last too long they DID make it.

Fang Mitchell brings lots of money to the Coppin program by playing as many big name schools as possible, so he can stay there as long as he wants. Todd Bozeman’s Morgan Bears beat Maryland this season at College Park and was about 4 points away from making it to the NCAAs last season. Loyola played Duke this season and lost. Towson played NC State and Villanova. Unless you follow those teams closely, you rarely know much about them, let alone see them on TV. Pat Kennedy coached at Georgia Tech before coming to Towson. Jimmy Patsos was a Maryland assistant. Although Loyola has had more success than Towson, neither has sniffed an NCAA berth into the round of 65.

So where is the criticism of Kennedy and Patsos?  They are both local teams and both are inside the Baltimore Beltway, 30 miles closer than Gary Williams. So why does Gary get all the criticism and Kennedy and Patsos are pretty much left alone? Is it because we don’t see them play on TV?  Do we not consider them big time basketball programs which are really not worth talking about?

Maybe the NCAA needs to have a minor league tournament for smaller schools. They can base the tournament on the average size of the crowds that watch these teams play, thus a team that averages 5000 a game would be a higher seed than a team that has 1000 per game watching. Rarely do any beat the top schools in the NCAA tournament. They are always the lowest seeds and don’t have a prayer to succeed past that first game. In the last 10 years, maybe 6 small lesser known schools have knocked off a top team in the tournament. No 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed.  So why not replace the NIT with a tournament for some of these schools who don’t get the exposure or would have a chance to beat North Carolina, Pitt, or UConn in the 1st round of the NCAAs? To keep things on a semi-equal level, let them play each other to see what team emerges as the top team. No one watches the NIT tournament anyway so maybe a change in the format would be good for exposure.