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. Just don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.
Unfortunately for GW and its fans, getting quality opponents to come to Foggy Bottom has become nearly impossible in recent years, Kvancz said, and this year is no exception. GW’s out of conference schedule includes home games against Mount St. Mary’s, Boston University, Longwood and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.
“To say (scheduling) is 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 but circumstances prevented that from happening. As a result, Kvancz rekindled talks with UCLA, which led to the scheduling of a Nov. 28 game against the Bruins.
“We’re excited about that game,” head coach Karl Hobbs said. “They should be ranked one or two in the country when we play them so it’s nice that a program like GW can play a team like that. It’s good for the program.”
Kvancz said that Providence is supposed to come to Foggy Bottom during the 2008-2009 season but he is not convinced the school will hold true to its word. Alabama and Binghamton are scheduled as out of conference opponents for this year, along with a match-up against Auburn in the BB&T Classic.
Because GW has difficulty scheduling good teams at home, it is forced to play them on the road, where the Colonials will likely 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.
Both Kvancz and Hobbs emphasized that winning games is the most important thing, regardless of the opponent’s calibur.
“(This year’s schedule) is a little too difficult for us given the fact that we are inexperienced and play some difficult teams,” Hobbs said. “We try to get as many home games as we can because (we usually win them) and students like seeing the team play. Sometimes you have no other choice but to play on the road.”
The Atlantic 10 Conference took measures last year by announcing a somewhat controversial policy to bolster its teams’ NCAA tournament appeal. The league said it would penalize teams that scheduled games with sub-par programs.
Kvancz has previously said he does not like the the new policy but admits it is “probably a good first step” to consistently getting multiple A-10 bids to the Big Dance.
In this new plan, GW is in the highest rated tier and subsequently was not allowed to 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 to find higher-ranked opponents to play.
Due to Smith Center’s relatively small size, the athletic department does not have the revenue to pay big-conference teams to play in Foggy Bottom.
Kvancz seemed resigned to the constrictions placed on the program.
He said, “We are what we are and the Smith Center is what it is.”
Men’s Out of Conference Schedule
Nov. 10 vs. Mount St Mary’s
Nov. 14 vs. Boston University
Nov 24 at UMBC
Nov. 28 at UCLA
Dec. 2 BB&T Classic vs. Auburn (Verizon Center)
Dec. 5 vs. UMES
Dec. 9 at Virginia Tech
Dec. 13 at Binghamton
Dec. 23 vs. Longwood
Dec. 29 at University of Alabama
Women’s Out of Conference Schedule
Nov. 2 Exhibition vs. Lake Truck
Nov. 9 at UMBC
Nov. 12 at Virginia
Nov. 14 at Kentucky
Nov. 18 vs. Rutgers
Nov. 23/24 Tournament vs. San Diego State and Western Kentucky
Nov. 27 at James Madison
Nov. 30 Tournament in New Orleans (participants include New Orleans, Samford, UNLV, GW opponents TBD)
Dec. 8 at Villanova
Dec. 18 vs. Loyola Marymount
Dec. 20 vs. Texas A&M
Dec. 30 vs. Pepperdine
Jan. 3 at Auburn
Jan. 6 vs. Brown