Posted Thursday, July 12, 9:43 p.m.
Updated Friday, July 12, 12:52 p.m.
GW’s Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz would like to get one thing straight with fans of the school’s men’s basketball team: he, too, wants to see good teams come play at Smith Center.
Unfortunately for GW and its fans, that has become nearly impossible in recent years, Kvancz said, and this year is no exception. In an interview Monday, Kvancz said he was frustrated by the way ths season’s home schedule has developed, with games against Boston Univeristy, Longwood and other “usual suspects” making up the list of 12 opponents.
“To say it’s not difficult would be a lie,” Kvancz said. “”People don’t understand there’s a lot of thought and discussion that goes into these things.”
“We play the teams who will come play us,” he added. “It’s hard to play the teams we want to play because they won’t play us home and home; the Smith Center is small and we’re too good. They won’t come back to play here.”
Providence College of the Big East Conference was slated to play a return game in Foggy Bottom this season, Kvancz said, but some circumstances prevented that from happening. As a result, Kvancz rekindled talks with UCLA about heading west to play a team many believe will be one of the best in the country. GW will head to Westwood for a Nov. 28 game against the Bruins and Providence is supposed to come to the Foggy Bottom in 2008-2009, but Kvancz is not convinced the school will hold true to its word. Alabama and Binghamton have also been confirmed as out-of-conference away games next year, along with a match-up against Auburn in the BB&T Classic.
Because GW cannot play good teams at home, it is forced to play them on the road, where the Colonials have less of a chance of winning, or risk having an extremely weak strength of schedule. A weak strength of schedule torpedoes a team’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) score, a key evaluator used by the NCAA tournament selection committee.
“You can’t beat them unless you play them,” Kvancz said. He later added “But you have to win games. You can play good teams all you want, but if you don’t win it doesn’t help you.”
Kvancz also noted that he speaks with head coach Karl Hobbs frequently about the matter and they have similar scheduling philosophies.
“In the long run, you’re probably better off playing (good teams), but our schedule has gotten us where we want to get (the NCAA tournament),” Kvancz said.
The Atlantic 10 conference had the NCAA tournament on its mind when it decided to ban A-10 teams from playing out of conference games against teams with an RPI below a certain number, depending how good the A-10 team is as voted by the coaches earlier this year.
Kvancz has said before that he is not a big supporter of the new policy but admits that it is “probably a good first step” to consistently getting multiple A-10 bids to the Big Dance.
GW is in the highest rated group and subsequently cannot schedule teams with an RPI below 200, except in cases of preexisting contracts. After this year, GW will only have one remaining contract (Providence) so GW will have “no choice” but to find opponents to play.
Because GW is in the unique situation of not having the revenue that comes with a big arena in order to afford to pay good teams to come and because the Colonials are too good for teams to play for an easy win (“If we were still bad, the building wouldn’t be a problem”), Kvancz’s options look to be limited to a small set of teams.
Teams from the Colonial Athletic Association, a conference ranked worse than the A-10, are the most likely candidates because they are decent programs and geographically close. Kvancz mentioned George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth, Hofstra and Old Dominion as potential opponents but he is worried about playing an out of conference schedule almost entirely against a conference worse than his.
“If we play all Colonial teams and lose, that would be bad for the A-10,” he said.
The Missouri Valley Conference is full of successful mid-majors like GW, but even those teams refuse to play home and homes with the Colonials. Crieghton and Wichita State were specifically mentioned by Kvancz as unwilling, but he added Bradley is a possibility down the road.
GW’s full basketball schedule should be released sometime before Labor Day and once again, local fans of GW basketball will not be seeing any marquee names coming to Foggy Bottom, but it’s not for a lack of trying.
“We are what we are and the Smith Center is what it is,” Kvancz said from his office while disdainfully pointing in the direction of the gym.
Read and comment to Andrew’s blog post on scheduling