BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mountain West Basketball Tournament In Need of Change

While the basketball was good the site was far from...

Considering only the basketball that was played, the 2008 Men's Mountain West Conference Tournament was a success. All games were exciting, and hard fought. The opening round included two games that were instant classics. (UNLV v TCU and New Mexico v Utah) Yet people aren't talking about the basketball that was played during the tournament, but what happened off the court. The brawl after the championship game marred a good weekend of basketball, and questions the logic of holding the event in Las Vegas.

Why is there a problem with holding the event in Vegas? Fairness to all of the teams in the conference is a major issuse with holding the tournament in Las Vegas. Taking down the banners and changing the logo at mid-court doesn't change the fact that UNLV is playing on their home court. At home over the last two years UNLV is 38-3. That is a huge advantage for the Rebels. Would it be fair for the tournament to be held in The Pit, The Marriott Center, The Huntsman Center, or any other teams' home court? No, if the tournament was held in Provo every year there would be an outcry in the conference. Playing on your home court is a home game regardless of changes made to the aesthetics, and it is an unfair advantage.

Security is also an issue. Last year UNLV rushing the court was viewed as harmful for the players, the coaches and the media. (The media not liking it was one of the reasons that this problem was such a big deal this year.) The conference tried to address this problem by using the public address announcer and a barrier constructed in front of the seats to prevent fans from storming the court. The problem with the crowd control was the event centers laissez-faire attitude in enforcing these standards. They didn't have security preventing people from rushing the court, but ushers, most of who were upwards for sixty years old.

The Thomas and Mack Center's belief that it is easier to control fans when they rush the court does make a lot of sense. The fans want to celebrate, and it is just a manner of getting the opposing team off the court in a speedy manner. The problem with this philosophy, by the Thomas and Mack Center, is they aren't the ones in charge of the event. They are being contracted by the Mountain West Conference, and it is their responsibility to uphold the standards of the conference. The conference decided they didn't want fans rushing the court, and there should have been a better plan in place to prevent the fans from doing so. This attitude by the Thomas and Mack Center shows they aren't good to work with and a new home should be sought.

There are two simple solutions that the Mountain West Conference should adopt for their tournament.

Plan A - Rotate the tournament to a different school each year. If the conference insists on playing the conference tournament in arenas affiliated with conference schools they should at least rotate it and give each school the opportunity to host. There would still be the bias of the home court advantage for one school each year; however, it wouldn't be the same school each year, making the advantage more even for the schools. The problem with this is it makes the tournament less fan friendly. Who wants to drive to Laramie and spend a long weekend?

Plan B - Hold the tournament in a neutral city. This is the best solution. Holding the tournament in Denver was the right idea, but it was the wrong location. The Pepsi Center wasn't fan friendly at all, they had to schedule around the Nuggets, and it was still a cold weather location. The conference needs to go south. Phoenix would be a great city to hold the tournament. It is a neutral site that is warm in March, and has a NBA arena to play in. It is centrally located for those who want to drive or fly down. It would also be good for recruiting in PAC-10 territory. Picking a city like Phoenix would solve the majority of problems that the tournament currently has.

Las Vegas has the contract for the Mountain West Tournament until 2010. (Wow! How many bad contracts can one conference sign?) They will also be competing starting next year with the West Coast Conference who will be playing their games in the New Orleans Arena, located on the strip. It is time for the conference to be proactive and make changes in the tournament that will benefit the conference, because the current situation isn't working.

No comments: