March 14, 2007

Today’s shoot-arounds, practices and press conferences for the Tournament teams playing tomorrow. The Raiders left yesterday afternoon, and got to Buffalo. The disrespect, mid-major mistreatment perspective already being played.

Once in snow-free Buffalo, the team took a short bus ride to the Airport Holiday Inn, where they were greeted by a few clumps of green and gold balloons. Accommodations are doled out according to seedings — lowest seeds get the plushest digs — so Pitt is in a fancy downtown hotel a half hour away.

Hey, if you were a beat writer covering the team, you’d be pissed too about the team you cover getting stuck in the crappy hotel — because that means you are there as well.

The Dayton paper is doing what it can to find the local connections in the teams playing in Buffalo. Not to mention what could be a bad omen for Wright State.

At least two of those teams have Dayton connections, and I’m not talking about Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon’s flirting with the WSU job when Paul Biancardi got it four years ago. Pitt’s athletic director is Jeff Long, a Kettering native, and Virginia Commonwealth’s coach is Anthony Grant, a former basketball star at UD.

Oh, and Maryland’s coach is Gary Williams, who once coached an Ohio State team that played UD in UD Arena — and lost.

Once the Raiders arrived, they checked into their rooms, had lunch, rested, then went to practice.

The only bad part was on the way back to the hotel. Two cars in front of their bus slammed into two fawns trying to cross the street.

It wasn’t a pretty sight, according to sports information director Bob Noss.

Roadkill. Excellent.

Wright State was 13-15 last year, and then hired Brian Brownell from UNC-Wilmington (Sun Belt Conference CAA). Now they are 23-9 and going to the NCAA Tournament. That’s a turnaround, and the sort of thing that puts a coach on the “hot” list. Which, of course, means it is time to deny, deny, deny.

WSU athletic director Mike Cusack said that he has not been contacted by any schools hoping to talk to Brownell.

“I’m not a high-profile coach,” Brownell said Tuesday after he and his team arrived in Buffalo by charter flight. “I didn’t play at a big school (DePauw) or coach as an assistant at a big school. I’m not a known commodity.”

He’s becoming one after leading the Raiders to the regular-season and Horizon League tournament championships on the way to a 23-9 record and the school’s first NCAA tournament since 1993.

Supporters in his hometown of Evansville, Ind., think he’s a natural for the vacant job at Evansville University, a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Brownell said he isn’t looking.

His Wright State contract pays him $220,000/year, base salary. That actually seems pretty good for the Horizon League. One of his bonuses is another month’s pay for each NCAA Tournament game the team plays. That also applies to his assistants.
At least one of the WSU booster’s knows the score:

“Brad went out and did exactly what we were paying him to do,” said Bob Mills, whose name is one of three on the team’s practice facility. “But, you know, he went a little bit overboard. He did more. I really think you have to have a system that will reward clearly outstanding behavior in job performance.

“We may not be able to keep Brad (and his assistants) forever, but let’s try to keep him as long as we can, knowing he’s going to leave this place in a better situation than he found it.”

That’s what you have to hope for as a mid-major.

All this mid-major stuff is stupid. No one cares about mid-majors except the mid-majors. Sure, you can have a George Mason every once in a while, but come on… Put Butler or Southern Illinois in a major conference, and see if they would have a winning league record. I seriously doubt it. I remember when I went to a Robert Morris game a few years ago, and couldn’t believe it was DI hoops. I think a solid DII team could have mopped the floor with them. And they were 5th in the NEC that year.

Comment by Matt T. 03.14.07 @ 2:29 pm

The popular thought that there is a decline in the number of mid-majors who are in the tourney this year has a lot to do with the Big East sucking up all the good hoops schools from Conf. USA (except Memphis). Other than those schools, the “mid-majors” haven’t really done crap in the tourney.

Comment by Crackbaldo 03.14.07 @ 2:55 pm

Can anyone fill me in on why Memphis didn’t join the Big East when all the C-USA teams moved over? Did the Big East not invite them or did they turn the offer down?
They’d be a great addition to both basketball and football. Their football squad would boost the Big East even more.
It would also benefit Memphis to join the Big East b/c of exposure, revenue, etc.

Comment by Roman 03.14.07 @ 3:22 pm

Why go to the Big East when you’re king turd of shit mountain, and the committee bows and gives you no worse than a 2 seed every year, because you have the most wins in the nation against teams of the RPI 100+… Sure they only won 1 game all year against a top 50 team, but they deserve that 2 seed… I mean, only 89 times have won more games against the top 50, but its their overall record that is so impressive. I guess thats why they made all those final fours in the last 20 years… I just think they got snubbed this year not getting a one seed. You know how hard it is to show up every game when no one else in your conference has an RPI greater than 85?

Comment by Stuart 03.14.07 @ 4:16 pm

I thought UNC-Wilmington played in the CAA.

Comment by baudolino 03.14.07 @ 4:20 pm

Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe that the BE extended an offer to Memphis.

Comment by RyanSilverSpring 03.14.07 @ 7:59 pm

On that note, would Memphis have been a better choice than South Florida or Cincy?

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my dad 03.14.07 @ 8:03 pm

Yes, Memphis was the better choice, I was just talking about that the other night.
I wonder if the BE’s former Liberty Bowl bid had anything to do with the lack of an offer for Memphis.

Comment by Chris 03.14.07 @ 8:12 pm

Not too off topic here.

Cinci has more success and history in basketball than Memphis and the BE knew they could count on Cinci to put an effort into the football program. Besides, when the offer was extended who exactly foresaw the absolute detonation of Cinci Basketball by the school president? Other note, Cinci (outside of its basketball team) is academically superior to Memphis. That still matters.

South Florida, was offered so that the Big East could continue to mine Florida for football recruits. Not to mention the greater potential in football for USF.

Oh, and yes UNC-Wilmington is in the CAA. My bad.

Comment by Chas 03.14.07 @ 9:29 pm

So, who will Ani DiFranco be rooting for up in Buffalo? She a Pitt fan?

Comment by Shawn 03.15.07 @ 1:13 am

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