I read all 475 words of your post “Summit League basketball needs to grow up.” I read it 3 times, and skimmed through it a couple more times all while my brain drew a picture of a typical Denver Pioneer fan. I admit the image did not come out positively, but I would like to point out a few things to you.
The University of Denver (10-9, 2-4 Summit), a young team sitting at one game above .500, has exceeded early season expectations.
I would like to point out that you that the Denver Pioneers have not exceeded any expectations. Your team was selected 8th in the Summit League preseason poll, and through 6 games your team is currently tied for 7th. I feel sorry for anyone who thinks that this is exceeding expectations. One of the two Pioneers’ wins are at home against an Oral Roberts team who did not have the league’s leading scorer, Obi Emegano, who was out with concussion symptoms. The team’s other win was against Western Illinois. These two wins do not mean you have exceeded expectations.
Regardless of how the Pios perform against UNO tomorrow night, it really doesn’t matter.
Way to diminish every game your team plays, I am sure the coaching staff and players working their asses off really appreciate your support. Go tell your teams’ players that what they are doing is worthless. By the way, if Denver beats UNO tonight and Pioneer fans brag up the win, it is your responsibility to tell them that they are idiots.
South Dakota State, an early league favorite, is 14-5 but a lackluster 3-2 in league play and it really doesn’t matter.
I love the “it doesn’t matter” tone you are putting down here. You sound like the kid in high school who cannot find a girlfriend, so he justifies it with “high school is stupid and all these relationships end some day.” I can say that with a full amount of confidence because I was that kid. If it really did not matter, your precious Denver Pioneers would not run a respectable offense based on finding the absolute best shot on each and every single play, instead we would just see Nate Engesser throwing up half court heaves a minute into the game. It’s about developing skills and decision making for these kids later in life. As a guy who is married to a former division one athlete, who never got to experience a post season tournament, I can tell you that it does matter. See, now the picture I have painted of a typical Denver Pioneer fan is a 6’2″, 120 pound kid with black nail polish and black eyeliner trying to prove a point. Look at what you have done.
The Summit League, like most conferences, should be playing on a neutral court in either Des Moines, Iowa or Kansas City, Missouri. Both locations are convenient travel destinations for league members, provide lower cost travel, offer more attractive amenities for visitors, provide more hospitable weather, and are ‘neutral’.
I can half agree with you here, but later you went here…
Today, a flight to Sioux Falls from Denver costs $400-600 per seat and hotel options and entertainment options are, at best, limited.
Have you been to Des Moines? I have never heard a person come back from a late winter/early spring trip to Des Moines and talk about the amazing time they had. The Iowa State fair has fried butter as a meal…seriously.
DU is not the only school that faces this unfair, unattractive disadvantage. BYU, IUPUI, and Western Illinois have to travel to Sioux Falls, too. How many of their fans will be there to support their teams? The answer to that question is easy.
Is BYU joining the Summit? I would love that! You should watch an IUPUI and/or a Western Illinois game on ESPN3 sometime. Just being them is a disadvantage. I am not sure they have fans. IUPUI has put together a pretty decent basketball team this year, and they are barely getting 1,000 fans to each game. Western Illinois fans…well…all 12 of them don’t have to worry about traveling to Sioux Falls right now.
Recruiting players to 1-bid conferences is difficult enough. Try to tell a recruit they will be playing for the only conference bid on a hostile court with no fan support.
Whether you refuse to accept it or not, Jason Mims is doing a pretty good job for UNO soccer. When going to a recruit’s home to try and talk them into Omaha during the transition, he said he simply just didn’t even talk about the transition. If it came up, he would talk about how he would develop a player into a responsible adult. Try that. Try to talk about developing young people into responsible human beings…not “hey we play our conference tournament in Las Vegas so our fans can get so drunk they pee themselves inside a casino and people will call them daredevils…all while you’re in a hotel room not being able to enjoy Vegas because you’re 19 years old.”
Your basketball team is built on guys who were undervalued out of high school, and are playing for Denver because they have skills that are great to their system. I have to say, it’s actually amazing to watch, and I sit here asking: “Was Joe Rosga not on Omaha’s radar?” That is actually how to recruit to a 1-bid conference…and technically, every conference is a 1-bid conference. The Missouri Valley is supposed to be a “Only 1 Team Conference” but they regularly get in 2 teams, and in 2006 they were able to get 4 teams into the NCAA tournament. It might be because the conference tournament is in St. Louis, but that’s probably not the only reason…probably. I need to see your highly analytical presentation to the Summit League to make a conclusion.
The conference tournament should be an ‘event’ – not an inconvenient, unfair obstacle for fans and players .
Let’s face it, our athletic programs we follow are 3rd or 4th rate programs in terms of local fan bases. Denver has Colorado and Colorado State to compete with. Omaha has Nebraska and Creighton to go up against for fans. IUPUI and IPFW have Indiana, Notre Dame, Indiana State, Evansville, and others. Oral Roberts has Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to deal with. North Dakota State, South Dakota, and South Dakota State just have themselves, though, I think some of their fans double up as Minnesota fans. I have family that live in Denver and I go a few times a year, rarely have I seen Denver Pioneers memorabilia in an establishment to show pride. So are people from Denver going to travel to Las Vegas and in the same month to your hypothetical Des Moines/Kansas City scenario?
The Summit League boasts that their current RPI puts them in the top 10 basketball conferences in the country. If the Summit League truly wants to improve their national profile, they need to offer a neutral court tournament in a more attractive location. The Summit League needs to grow up, or Denver needs to get out.
A neutral court in a more attractive location is not the one and only solution to grow the conference. I do see your point that it is somewhat a disadvantage to host the conference tournament in Sioux Falls each and every single year, but is Des Moines or Kansas City the only destinations to throw out there? Denver fans still have to travel a long distance, and hotels should be slightly more expensive than Sioux Falls. In Sioux Falls, you have 4 teams that have easy short drives. Kansas City really only provides an easy commute for Omaha and maybe the South Dakota schools…there is not really a city where everyone wins the easy commute.
Basketball teams in the conference built tough non-conference schedules to build up their own reputations, and other reasons, but it helped grow the conference. The brand got out there with South Dakota State and South Dakota both winning at Minnesota, and other big non-conference games. The brand didn’t get out there with Denver’s weak non-conference schedule built on Utah Valley, Idaho State, South Alabama, Air Force, Wyoming, Weber State, and San Diego.
If you want the Summit League to grow up, then Denver needs to grow up too. Yeah, go back to the WAC purely on the basis that their conference tournament is in Las Vegas. That is the grown up thing to do. That is a grown up conference everyone is fighting to get into.