In the Buffalo News, Keith Dambrot discussed his scheduling philosophy.
As usual, Dambrot talked about how he has been "whacked up and down" for his strategy. I think he's talking a little about me, and probably a lot about Elton Alexander. Following tradition, let's go point-counterpoint:
Dambrot: In the history of the MAC, which is 60 years or whatever, we've only had six multiple-bid years. So until we prove we can get multiple bids, we're a one-bid league. And that's as simple as I see it. So you might as well win.
Rasor: It very well could have happened two years ago with Kent State. The Flashes played a rough, yet manageable schedule, which included only one true "buy game" against No. 1 North Carolina. For a mediocre team, it doesn't make a ton of sense to play the big boys, because you're not going anywhere without winning the MAC Tournament, regardless. But for a team that is consistently at the top of the league, a shocker win (or just the improved RPI from playing on the road at Duke, UNC, etc.) could take a team from the run-of-the-mill MAC Champion status (see Akron '09) to elite mid-major status (see Miami circa Wally Szczerbiak). It all depends on your goals for the program, I suppose. One who is "thinking bigger than the MAC" would want to go for it all, particularly when it doesn't affect the ability to win the MAC, as well. If you want to cause a stir around town, beat a top-25 team on the road. If it happens only once out of 10 games, so be it.
D: I think we should play mid-majors and not get bought. That's my opinion. I think our league will be better for it. We'll get more people in the postseason [such as the NIT] ... Until we show we're a two-bid league we're a one-bid league and we shouldn't even talk about it.
R: Is there something so awful about getting "bought"? Isn't it true the program pulls in a truckload of money? Isn't it true the college athletes get a unique experience that, heck, might even be valuable come March? Isn't it true that, even if the referees completely screw you out of the gym, your players learn the lesson that life isn't fair, and it won't be fair in athletics, either? Isn't it true that getting "bought" generally results in an RPI boost, win or lose? Dambrot must consider whether the downside of taking bruises 90 percent of the time in a hostile gym that he is concerned about is really an ego thing.
D: I think that's who we should play, like the Missouri Valleys, the Colonials, sometimes the Mountain Wests. Mix in some A-10s who will play you home and home. I think those are the best schedules we can get rather than going to all these high majors where you're going to lose. Most times even if you're better, you're going to lose.
R: I agree. However, I've been hearing about this plan for five years. When will we see the upper-echelon mid-majors coming more frequently? Why are we still caulking our schedule with the Midstate Upstairs B.S. Universities of the world? That's acceptable to fans as a warm-up game. But in December, they serve no purpose. People don't want to pay to see Akron dust up the Washington Generals -- not with their time or money. These games are a big reason attendance is low until the MAC season begins. The other is effective marketing, but that's another story...
D: Look at Davidson last year. They had a lottery pick [Stephan Curry]. They lost every one of them. Do you think they're going to let you win consistently in the Big East? You may win one but you ain't winning many. That's how I see it. I've been whacked up and down for it but I believe I'm right. And I think most everybody in our league now is doing it that way. Not everybody, and Miami [of Ohio]'s an example. They're pretty good. They're 4-11 but they're pretty good.
R: Davidson did what it needed to do to prepare itself for a national title run. They wanted experience against the big boys. They lost by four at Oklahoma and by 12 at Duke. Not bad. Unfortunately for them, they also lost early in the conference tournament and barely missed the NCAA Tournament. Just think if Davidson played nobody and lost in the Southern Conference tournament. They wouldn't have been a high seed in the NIT; that's for sure. As for Miami, Charlie Coles takes the gamble that he can catch a big boy off guard and possibly steal a win that could propel consideration for an at-large bid. Year after year, we see his teams catching momentum once the MAC season begins, so it's hard to argue the schedule is detrimental to Coles.
Regardless of how you come out on this issue, there are good arguments on both sides. I disagree with the coach, but I don't think there is a wrong or right here.
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