The Atlantic 10 women’s basketball tournament begins Friday at GW and encompasses four days and 11 games. As the Smith Center braces for 12 teams, media members and fans from all over the conference, GW Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz sees this as opportunity for GW women’s basketball and the school. But he also has a few concerns.
“I think it’s really important for the girls on the team to play at home and in front of their friends and fans,” Kvancz said. “But I am still biting my tongue on how many students are going to come. Tuesday night’s student attendance against St. Joseph’s was outstanding. If we get part of that it would be great.”
Each day of the tournament, admission is free for the first 500 students with a GWorld card. After that, general admission tickets are $5 each.
The Smith Center last hosted an A-10 Tournament game in 2003 when the finals were played between GW and Rhode Island. The Smith Center hasn’t hosted the whole tourney since 1993.
“Parking is always a problem at any city school, hotel rates and expenses have been issues too,” Kvancz said on why GW has been without the tournament for more than a decade. “We have bid for many years and last year, when St. Joe’s beat us at their home, I said, ‘Why can’t we get it?’ I think it’s a great advantage to our kids and I think it’s great for our basketball fans to see everyone come in. I am just a little concerned about the students.”
The A-10 staff and members of the GW athletic department will run the tournament. Friday and Saturday will be the most hectic days, as four games will be played. Games begin at noon and will not end until past 9 p.m.
“The staff will start on Thursday and go all the way through Monday,” Kvancz said. “We have to make sure all the things are ready from locker rooms to meeting the teams when they come in, to checking in the bands and cheerleaders. So they are going to do a lot of work.”
“I know it’s a lot of work and I know the people here at GW have gone out of their way, and I really appreciate that,” women’s coach Joe McKeown added.
The tournament provides publicity for the University and the conference. Semifinal games will be aired on A-10 Television, which is broadcast up and down the east coast, and the final game will be aired on ESPN 2 Monday at 5 p.m.
A-10 Commissioner Linda Bruno will be in attendance and will hand out regular season awards on Thursday night. After two weeks of controversy swirling around the now-suspended Temple coach John Chaney, Kvancz is hoping for a positive weekend.
“Someone once said any press is good, bad or good. I disagree with that,” Kvancz said. “I think the conference has had some bad press and I think we can help it if we could get some good ink. I think it would help the A-10 immensely, because it needs a little shot in the arm from all the negative stuff.”