As a New Englander, who is passionate about college basketball, I felt the need to address the Twitter storm that brewed on Wednesday night. UMass’ AD Ryan Bamford took to Twitter to callout/challenge BC to a hoops contest “any time, any place”.
He would then double down and include the likes of Providence and UConn.
Here’s where I stand with Bamford: it is good for college sports in our region for the local teams to play. After that, it’s a full stop. The local teams shouldn’t play each other solely because “it’s good for the sport in our region”.
Non-conference scheduling is a strategic element of building your program and ensuring your program has success. At this point in time UMass, and URI, for that matter, don’t make sense for PC. For Providence, they play URI still because it is an in-state rivalry game, although we know Ed Cooley’s opinion on the game. Let’s take a look at the local team’s NET ranking over the last 4 years.
URI: 142, 112, 57, 137
UMASS: 178, 119, 132, 224
Brown: 212, 185, 225, 145
Bryant: 205, 144, 242, 322
I included Brown and Bryant because a few months back, retired Projo columnist, Jim Donaldson had this to say.
It is not Ed Cooley, Dan Hurley or Earl Grant’s job to promote college hoops in the New England region. Their job is to ensure the best possible success for their program. Playing a basement A-10 school, or middling to upper tier America East/Ivy League program can do more harm than good when you look at quadrant wins/losses and building an at-large resume. Let’s face it a local program like a UMass or URI probably has a greater chance at scoring an upset than say another program around their same ranking due to familiarity with the program.
And of course PC has cupcakes on their schedule, but they are calculated risks. If you look at Providence’s schedule last year, beating the likes of UVM and cinderella St. Peter’s did more for their resume than the URI game. You can call them cowards or chicken or whatever you want, but the bottom line is that these are business decisions.
So my message to these schools is simple: get your house in order and then we can talk. UMASS and URI seem to have gotten that process started with what I believe are two home run hires in Frank Martin and Archie Miller, respectively. Bryant has a ton of momentum and while I like Mike Martin, the Brown job is always an uphill battle.
College sports fandom in New England seems to be a niche market with all the professional teams but I firmly believe the market is bigger than people think. The Crier personally would love to have a tournament with the local schools in a packed TD Garden or Mohegan Sun but it has to make sense for all schools involved.
In summation the Crier is all for the success of New England college hoops, but it has to be mutually beneficial for each school to schedule these games. And for Bamford to air his grievances on Twitter to me kind’ve comes off as a little bit desperate, but I get his point of view. I’m up for “any time, any place” too but they gotta do their part to make it worthwhile for PC as well. End of story.