You know, there are some days when I feel absolutely lucky to be a fan of and follow not just college basketball, but the CAA. No sport compares to college hoops–the passion, excitement, competition (without the NFLs parity), and stories are umatched. In the CAA, you also get to root for both the underdog and overdog every night. Ponder that one while I move on to the actual content…


I was fortunate to speak today to Craig Littlepaige, chair of the NCAA tournament selection committee, as part of the research for my book. He and I met at the Richmond vs. ODU game and he was both interested in the project and very generous with his time. (And I’m sure when we were finished he was able to exhale and say: “Packer’s got nothing on this guy,” but I digress…)

One of the things that is very evident is that Littlepaige, and I presume all of the tournament committee members, watches a ton of basketball and talks to a ton of coaches, administrators, and media types. I think these folks (the committee, not the media) get little credit for how much preparation work they put into this. It’s far too easy of an argument to say “they don’t see everybody.” Littlepaige pegged his number at more than 100, and he is well aware of unbalanced conference scheduling being a facotr in how certain teams get to 14-4.

Some snippets you should heed:

I asked about the relative value of the good win versus the bad loss. As part of his answer, he said that ODUs loss to Richmond is “not really a bad loss because it was away from home. A team can suffer a setback having not played at home. It is more easily understood, especially when home teams win two of every three games.”

I also asked about the history of programs factoring into their evaluations. One of the things I was interested in understanding was someone like a Duke or UNC or Illinois, with a long history of great NCAA performances amidst a bad season (comparitively), would that be taken into account, much like the injured player.

I checked specifically about Kansas, a team that is historically among the nation’s elite. This year, they could be 16-14 with an RPI around 75. (Don’t argue with my numbers, please. Spur of the moment example for crying out loud…)

“History does not play into it at all,” Littlepaige said. “History is the history of current year. 2005-06 is the only history we use.”

Regarding regular season champs who tank in their conference tournaments: “Every conference regular season champ is treated the same in that if you’ve won your regular season play your name gets on the (at large) board to begin the process. It doesn’t get you in, but gets you on the board that will get you ample conversation.”

As for how impactful the RPI numbers are inside the room (and you know what room I speak of): “For me, it means very little. For others, it may be the deciding component.”

Northeastern’s Ron Everhart, who the more I listen to the more I believe he is always telling it like it is, on life in the CAA: “Everything is a surprise because it’s new. It’s kind of (like the lights being) out in the kitchen–you feel your way around…we don’t have a good feel. We’ve got to watch more film, be more prepared. It’s making us better, more physical, tougher, certainly making better decisions.”

Although he admitted that the AAU season is not as demanding, Jeff Capel brushed off the Thursday/Saturday issue by saying: “It is what it is and we just have to get used to it. Players are players…(and) they play 2-3 games a day in AAU. But I’d like more time for my guys to recover.”

Everhart, on playing George Mason, specifically the Patriots’ ability to beat you inside or outside: “They are a team that multitasks against you.” I don’t know why I love that quote. He also took a mea culpa on the first matchup between the two teams, won by Mason 71-68. “Last time we let (Jai) Lewis have it on the block…Putting in his hands wasn’t the best idea.” The Human Second Helping made nine field goals and scored 19 points to lead GMU.


~ by mglitos on January 17, 2006.

3 Responses to “Reminiscing”

  1. “The Human Second Helping” is petty and to be honest, too easy. Lewis is a big guy. A very big guy. A huge guy. If you really know the CAA though, you also know he’s a lot more than just a wide body in the middle. He’s quick on his feet, gets excellent position, soft hands and one the best players in the CAA. “The Human Second Helping” is a barb that an opposing teams fans would toss out from from fear of what he’ll do to their team and envy that he was on theirs. If you want to cover the CAA for those not already familiar with it, rise above the simple cliche’.

  2. He should change the blog name to The CAA: Life as a VCU Lover… or The CAA: Life as a Mason Hater

  3. A main objective for any writer is to create interest. An impossibility for any writer is to please everyone (which, usually, also creates interest. The fact that you are here complaining shows that MGL has achieved both.

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