Unlike last year, there was no party at the Smith Center. Instead, the team met at head coach Joe McKeown’s house in Fairfax, Sunday night and learned that GW will not be one of the 64 teams attending the Big Dance. Instead, the women will host the University of Deleware in the WNIT at the Smith Center Wednesday.
After Xavier knocked the Colonials out of the Atlantic 10 Tournament in the quarterfinal round last weekend, it erased all hopes of an automatic bid. McKeown and his team had hoped a 20-win season, 15-2 conference record and appearances in nine of the last 11 NCAA Tournaments would speak for themselves.
“I thought we had a 50/50 chance,” he said. “I was confident that the regular season would mean a lot. I mean, we had one bad week,” he said referring to losses to Xavier and Massachusetts. “I?_Tm really disappointed.”
While the news is disappointing, McKeown said it will be a motivating factor for the veterans who want to return to the tournament next year. This is the first year juniors Lindsey Davidson, Erica Lawrence and Cathy Joens have not attended an NCAA Tournament and only the third year out of the past 12 the Colonials have not received a bid
“I always thought I would play in four NCAA Tournaments,” Davidson said. “I always expect to go; we all came to GW thinking that.”
The selection committee, which included GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz, this year placed a strong emphasis on the outcome of conference tournaments. Even though GW finished the regular season in first place, it will be Temple, the A-10 Tournament Champion, who will go. The Lady Owls hold the 14th seed in the Midwest and will face No. 3 Iowa State.
GW was not the only team which felt slighted by the selection committee because of a poor conference tourney performance. Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols (24-5), who beat GW early in the season, did not receive the anticipated No. 1 seed. Instead, the first seed in the Midwest went to Vanderbilt, which won the Southern Eastern Conference Tournament. Tennessee is the second seed.
“Each year?_Ts a little different in the way it plays out,” McKeown said. “I think there was way too much of an emphasis on conference tournaments. You shouldn?_Tt be penalized by one game.”
The University of Connecticut secured the top seed in the Mideast, while Duke and Oklahoma top the East and West, respectively.
McKeown accepted the WNIT bid, something he did not do in 1999, because he said it would be a good post-season experience for his young team. With their only senior, Elena Vishniakova, sidelined for the season, the Colonials field a young team with three juniors, six sophomores and five freshmen.
“It?_Ts one of those things; you deal with some adversity, and you challenge yourselves to bounce back,” McKeown said.