Posts Tagged ‘NCAA’
You’ve probably heard the story by now. An old man with a history of controversy is recorded in the middle of a racist rant. The tape is distributed to media outlets. As it turns out, this old man owns the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and the league is in a tough position. A couple of days after the tape is released, the NBA bans the old man for life and begins the process of taking over his franchise.
The first thought when I heard the tape of Donald Sterling’s rant was “I’m not surprised.” My second was to ask how would people react if an NHL owner was the person being taped?
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I was talking to a former NHL executive Wednesday afternoon about mascots. We tossed around the question of where to draw the line between a mascot and a character. What separates the woman dressed up as Snow White at Disneyworld from the Leprechaun at Notre Dame? Are they mascots or characters? What about the Atlanta Braves’ Chief Noc-A-Homa?
Somehow the Spanish word for “pets,” mascotas, entered the discussion, and that rekindled my gut feeling about what a mascot should be: Furry and non-human. But that’s just my opinion. A team doesn’t need a mascot, though they are always popular with the kids. I once covered a minor-league hockey team that had three mascots, turning each game into a Disneyland-type experience and proving that a team can have too many. In the NHL, the Stars, Oilers, Rangers and Flyers have zero mascots. That might be too few.
At the bare minimum a team could use a nickname, which brings us to the curious case of the University of North Dakota. Officially, UND is just UND. No nickname. Its logo is an interlocking ND, similar to the more famous University of Notre Dame logo. In 2005 the NCAA decided the nickname in use at UND since 1930 — the Sioux (since the 1960s, the “Fighting Sioux”) — was “hostile and abusive.” In June 2012, state voters collectively banned the nickname, and the accompanying mascot and logo, at the polls. A few days later, the state’s Board of Higher Education officially banished the Sioux nickname to the history books. The university is prohibited from adopting a new team name until 2015.
There’s been quite a bit going on over the past two weeks since the NCAA Regionals, most of the big stories being players leaving school early for the NHL.
Two stories stand out above the rest.
The first is that longtime Colorado College head coach Scott Owens resigned. Owens has been at the helm since taking over for Don Lucia in 1999. During that span, the Tigers made the Frozen Four in 2005 on top of six other NCAA appearances. No reason was given for his resignation, but my theory is that maybe the powers that be wanted to move in a different direction, like Denver was last year with George Gwozdecky. The Tigers haven’t made the NCAA tournament in three years and just went through their worst season in 20 years. Whatever the reason, it’s a sad day because Owens is a talented coach who kept a small school competitive on a national stage. I’m sure he’ll be missed by the Tiger faithful.
The other is that NCAA seems willing to reconsider its idea to stage the Regionals at neutral sites. On paper it seemed like a sound plan; it isn’t fair for one team to have a distinct home-ice advantage over the other teams in the region. The plan backfired because attendance at the Regionals has been terrible. Attendance turned around a little this year, but it’s still bad. A total of 8,893 fans for a regional championship between Minnesota and St. Cloud State sounds fine — except that the game was in St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center, which holds more than twice that number (18,568).
If the NCAA is smart, they will return the games to campus sites. Yes, it gives one team an advantage, but a good team overcomes that. I’ve seen it happen. Miami beat Minnesota-Duluth in 2009 in front of a loud, very partisan crowd at Mariucci Arena. (How partisan was the crowd? I was cheering for both teams and when the Redhawks scored first, I cheered and pumped my fist. I was the only one in the arena to do so outside of the Miami pep band. It was weird).
Both of those stories pale in comparison to the Frozen Four, which starts Thursday. This year features three powerhouse progams and one on the rise. I got three out of the four teams correct with my predictions two weeks ago, which was my best performance in the Regionals so far. Let’s see if I can keep my luck going.
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A long, exciting season is approaching its conclusion. It’s going to be a fun one. I’ve spent the past couple days trying to come up with a name for the NCAA tournament. Playing off off “Frozen Four,” I came up with the Frozen Frenzy. I think it fits.
The field is set and just like its basketball equivalent, the Frenzy is prime for upsets. Who will pull them off might surprise you. Let’s get started.
One conference, the CCHA, is gone. Its teams either joined the WCHA, Hockey East or one of two new conferences — the Big Ten and National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). Also, just two years after being in danger of being dropped as a program, Alabama-Huntsville has finally found a conference.
The new conferences aren’t nearly as interesting as the new storylines.
Will defending national champion Yale repeat? (No).
Will the ECAC be considered a top tier conference? (Maybe, if other teams are able to equal Yale’s success).
Will the WCHA still be competitive? (Now that the powerhouses are gone, probably not).
Will the Big Ten teams battle for the crown till the end of the season? (No).
With those questions answered, let’s look at each conference individually, starting with the ornery one that caused all the realignment problems in the first place: The Big Ten. Read the rest of this entry »
The college hockey season begins in a month and something puzzles me. This season’s Frozen Four will be played at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, yet the overlords at the NCAA have yet to choose any destinations after that. It’s unusual that the NCAA would delay this announcement so long — they’ve planned well in advance in the past — so maybe they have a cool idea to try out.
Hopefully it’s not another attempt at playing in an indoor football stadium.
The folks in Indianapolis will supposedly make their selections in November, but to help them decide, I’ve compiled a list of destinations that would be great hosts for college hockey’s premier event. Midwestern and Western areas since the FF has been on the East Coast the past three years.
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Everything was setting up so perfectly. The top-seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats had support from its campus, a veteran-laden squad, a number-one ranking in the nation the majority of the season, some love from ESPNU, and several articles about them in publications around the country.
They had come from behind to beat Canisius, dominated conference rival Union, barely broke a sweat in the Frozen Four semifinal against St. Cloud State, and their Hobey Baker finalist goaltender was 39 minutes into a shutout against Yale, a team the Bobcats had beaten three times during the season.
Last week, I tried predicting who would make the Frozen Four next week in Pittsburgh. I did OK, getting two of the four teams correct, while missing terribly on the other two. The good thing is I don’t think anybody predicted that the field of Quinnipiac, Yale, St. Cloud State and UMass Lowell would be heading to the Steel City, so I take solace in that.
A lot of storylines came out of last weekend.
Follow along as we preview each round of the 2013 NCAA tournament and pick a champion.
In two weeks, Pittsburgh will be hosting its first Frozen Four.
The Steel City is ecstatic about the NHL’s Penguins and it will be interesting to see if the natives will turn out in droves to watch college hockey. The only local team is Robert Morris, a small school that plays in Atlantic Hockey. The next-closest team geographically is fellow Atlantic member Mercyhurst. They play in Erie. Some locals are skeptical about the crowds.
At the same time, people thought having Tampa as a host last year would be a disaster and it ended up being a big success. I’m thinking everything will be okay. Pennsylvania loves hockey and when you have a host that enjoys and follows the game, you can’t go wrong.
As for the field, the national championship is completely up for grabs. No teams clearly stand above the rest in terms of talent. Everybody is playing on an equal level. Without further ado, here are my 2013 Regional predictions.