Wednesday, July 19, 2000
field by one
UH coach Riley Wallace
thinks every basketball team
should be invited to
the 'Big Dance'
Northwestern ponders Hawaii visitBy Cindy Luis
Adding one? Why not add all?
That was Riley Wallace's reaction when learning that the field for the NCAA men's basketball tournament will expand by one to 65 next season. The University of Hawaii coach feels all 321 Division I teams should go to "The Big Dance.''
"I grew up in Illinois where every high school team had a chance to win the state tournament,'' Wallace said. "It gives you a true champion.
"It would be easy to do and it's been talked about. But it has never gotten past the talking stage.''
Wallace's format would be to do away with the conference tournaments and start the NCAA tournament the first week of March.
"It could be seeded by regions to get the numbers down. I would like to see that. And it gives you a true champion.''
Until then, March Madness will give 31 conferences automatic bids, two more than last year. There will be 34 at-large teams.
The additional automatic bids will go to the year-old Mountain West Conference and the Western Athletic Conference, UH's conference. The WAC did not have one last season after eight members left to form the Mountain West.
"We knew we'd get that (automatic bid) back,'' Wallace said. "And giving one to the Mountain West is fair for both of us. The only reason it didn't happen last year was because of the way they had the rules set up (regarding the length of time schools have been together in a conference)."
The 65-team tournament will include a play-in game between two of the lower-ranked conference. The winner of the game will move into the brackets as a No. 16 seed.
The Division I Men's Basketball Committee is recommending the opening-round game be played on Tuesday, March 13, at the University of Dayton Arena, which is a host site for first- and second-round games.
Then again, that team might have to play somewhere else.
"They could play at Dayton," NCAA spokesman Bill Hancock said. "They will be seeded into line No. 16 and if, on selection Sunday, the committee believes that the No. 1 seed should be assigned to Dayton to play No. 16, then that team could stay in Dayton."
The NCAA's Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet will decide Aug. 3 whether to adopt the recommendation.
The 65-team field will be a first, but it won't be the first time the NCAA has given more than 64 teams a shot at the championship. In 1991, 33 conference champions received automatic bids and six of the teams competed in three play-in games. Those three winners joined 61 other teams in the tournament field.
Craig Thompson, the Mountain West commissioner, chaired the basketball committee.
"We want to do everything we can to ensure that the student-athletes who compete in the opening-round game get the full flavor of participation in this great championship. The University of Dayton has a strong history of drawing tremendous crowds to NCAA tournament competition," Thompson said in a statement.
The NCAA said the teams playing the Tuesday game will be determined on Sunday, March 11, with the remainder of the tournament field. The NCAA will try to assign the Tuesday winner to a site playing host to first-round games on Friday, rather than Thursday. Dayton's first-round games will be played Friday.
"They could stay in Dayton, but they could also move, and that won't be known until selection Sunday," Hancock said.
Both opening-round participants will get a full share of revenue for playing in the tournament, Hancock said.
Green Wave update: Kentucky assistant coach Shawn Finney will be hired as Tulane's basketball coach, The Times-Picayune reported today.
James Madison coach Sherman Dillard, the other finalist for the job, withdrew from consideration Tuesday.
Finney would replace Perry Clark, who took the coaching job at Miami. Brock Kantrow, who assisted Clark at Tulane, said yesterday he will take an assistant's position at Miami.
Nebraska guard gets extra year: Nebraska guard Cookie Belcher, who sat out most of last season because of an injured wrist, has been granted an extra year of eligibility.
Belcher was a senior last season, but only played in four games because his right wrist had not fully recovered from off-season surgery. He sat out the rest of the season and applied for a medical hardship.
Nebraska associate athletic director Bob Burton said yesterday that Belcher had been granted another season of eligibility.
Belcher averaged 11.8 points as a junior. Without Belcher running the offense last season, the Cornhuskers finished 11-19.
"We are looking forward to Cookie's contributions both on the basketball court and as a leader on our team," coach Barry Collier said.
Move flag or tournament: The National Association of Basketball Coaches has renewed its objection to holding an NCAA regional in Greenville in 2002 unless the state removes the Confederate flag from its current location on the Statehouse grounds.
"We do not see the situation as having been cleared up, and we think the NCAA should move the site out of Greenville," NABC director Jim Haney said yesterday.
He said the group's NCAA Division I coaches voted Sunday at their meeting in Las Vegas to continue their opposition to South Carolina serving as a host for an NCAA tournament event while the Confederate flag remains in a prominent location.
Earlier this month, the flag was removed from the Statehouse dome and the House and Senate chambers. A similar, more historically accurate flag was then raised near a monument to Confederate war dead on the Statehouse grounds.
Haney said coaches were concerned because the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other groups have objected to the flag's new location, saying it is too prominent a position for what they consider a reminder of slavery and a symbol of Southern oppression of blacks. Flag supporters say it represents Southern heritage and is not a symbol of racism.
"The discussion on this topic in Las Vegas centered around the fact that the NAACP once again had indicated that although the flag had come off the Statehouse ... it was still not satisfactory in their eyes in terms of the new location of the flag," Haney said.
In April, the NCAA said it would move championship events, including the regional scheduled for Greenville, and two cross-country events, unless the state removed the flag from the dome. After lawmakers voted in May to move the flag to the Confederate soldier monument, a statement from the NCAA said the group was "pleased that the governor and state Legislature have been able to reach agreement on the matter."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Northwestern interestedBy Dave Reardon
in Hawaii visit
Officials of the University of Hawaii and Northwestern University athletic departments are discussing playing each other here in football and maybe basketball in 2004 and 2006.
"It's still very tentative but I think it's encouraging," Hawaii athletic director Hugh Yoshida said. "It's a Big Ten team, so it's exciting for us."
The Wildcats beat the Rainbows, 47-21, in 1998 at Aloha Stadium.
Yoshida and Northwestern associate athletic director Ken Kraft indicated that both games would be played in Hawaii.
"We've been talking, but nothing's for sure yet," Kraft said. "The last time we were there we found it was a nice experience for our players and fans."
Kraft said he hopes the games can be scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the trips be combined with basketball games.
Ka Leo O Hawaii