Monday, March 9, 2009

Best of the Worst

I doubt this is what Santa Clara University basketball coach Kerry Keating has in mind, but I'm here to help.

I'd like to propose yet another college basketball tournament. This is for teams that don't make the NCAA's, or even the postseason NIT. To make this field, you'd need to have a losing record, but at least one really interesting player.

That's where Keating and his Broncos come in. They ended the season 16-17 and have no chance of a postseason bid. But they do have John Bryant. The 6' 10", 300-pound-plus post man leads Division 1 in rebounds per game, and his 27 boards against San Diego the other night was the single-game best in D-1 this season.

After Santa Clara lost in the conference tournament to Gonzaga, Keating suggested there ought to be a way for the have-nots to keep playing so they can showcase players like Bryant.

I'm all for it. College basketball doesn't have any of those postseason all-star games college football offers. So let's launch a new 8-team tournament. Bring in the losers with fascinating players and let them fill a three-day stretch before March Madness begins.

Oh sure, there'll be catcalls. Late-night comedians and wise-ass columnists will make hay. But if there's room for 65 (counting the play-in loser) in the NCAA field and 32 more in the NIT, what's another 8? And "loser" is such a demeaning term.

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