Yesterday, the West Coast Conference announced changes to their annual tournament, which takes place every year at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The reaction around the conference is mixed. Here is how some of the writers at West Coast Convo, including myself, think about the changes to the West Coast Conference Tournament.
Ryan Pat Mahoney (Santa Clara)
I see the changes as nothing but a positive for the conference going forward. We knew something would have to change with a 10th member coming in, and it seems to have been handled well and will make for a more equitable tournament. The best of the announcement, to me, is the increased coverage on ESPN. Root and CSN games are great, but to increase the national profile of the league, the games need to be shown nationally. Let’s just hope the tip-off times are early enough to show the whole country what our league is about.
Kevin Cacabellos (LMU)
These changes only confirm the continuing rise of the West Coast Conference’s reputation on the national scene. As made evident by the classic championship games that have taken place between Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in recent years, the WCC can provide fun and exciting games to watch. It only makes sense to have ESPN televise more games on their national channels.
George Robles (Saint Mary’s)
The new format will definitely hurt attendance for the tournament since it will be a day longer and people usually leave Vegas on Tuesday morning. This format makes the tournament too long and it will make fans want to stay at home to watch it, especially every school in the WCC that does not get that week off besides Gonzaga.
David Thompson (Portland)
Basically my point is that moving the tournament has a much bigger impact than just moving the final from Monday to Tuesday. I think the biggest impact will be that the number one and two seeds no longer are two wins away from the automatic bid. So its a win for teams not named Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. The last 5 seasons it’s been #1 vs #2 in the championship game. This will be the biggest equalizer since taking it to Vegas. The biggest winner is the 3 and 4 seeds as they are the teams who sometimes have the quality of a winning team but always seem to be tired in the semi finals. With Gonzaga, BYU, and Saint Mary’s clearly the cream of the crop this equalized pretty much all of them. If you finish in the top 2 the only advantage is that the team you play will have played two days before.
Other things, Fans of the 1-6 teams win. They show up on Saturday, and each one will have the same opportunity of winning. In addition there may be more of a chance for upsets which is always fun. Conversely fans of the 7-10 teams lose. They show up on Thursday, don’t play Friday, Play Saturday, don’t play Sunday, Play Monday and Tuesday. Thats potentially a very long trip, and if they get all those nights in a hotel and lose, its a lot of sitting around. If they don’t’ and win they will never forgive themselves.
Simon Tryzna (Saint Mary’s)
I understand that the W CC format needed to be changed with the addition of Pacific to the league, and the tournament format is a fair one. However, by running the tournament Thurs – Tues, the tournament format is worse for fans of every team, except Gonzaga. The Gonzaga fans who come to Las Vegas make a vacation out of it, and they don’t mind the extra day spent. Gonzaga itself makes the week of Spring Break the same week as the WCC Tournament and sends hundreds of students to the tournament. By comparison, Saint Mary’s is lucky to get fifty students to go. While students will come out for a weekend in Vegas, putting the two most important games on Monday and Tuesday is very disadvantageous to non GU fans. Granted, there are other factors in play – like the availability of Orleans Arena and TV rights. However, this move is bad all around for fans.
Josh Horton (Gonzaga)
Personally, I like the changes. I think that it levels the playing field, and prevents Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s from getting a free pass to the semifinals. The increase in television coverage is awesome for the conference, and should help the conference grow even further. I do think that the tournament could be a little lengthy, but the championship games move to Tuesday is beneficial, considering there will be less rust for the winner in between the WCC tournament and the NCAA tournament. I don’t think it will make a huge difference, but it is a step in the right direction. In a perfect world, the WCC tournament would finish either on selection Sunday, or the day before. I have always thought that the gap between the NCAA tournament and the WCC tournament is too large, and in turn it makes WCC teams play worse because of the long break that they are given. Although it is a relatively insignificant change, it is a step in the right direction, like I said before.
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