Blog Archives

Crappy consolation

In eight (WAY TOO MANY) venues across Kansas right now, girls basketball teams are going at it. The prize: a trophy. 

That’s right, one of the most asinine, inane, pointless, nobody cares (take your pick, insert adjective of your own here) exercises of the Kansas high school sports season is taking place. 

THIRD PLACE GAMES at the state basketball tournaments. 

Eight teams (again, too many) teams advance to each of eight (again, WAY TOO MANY) state tournaments, boys and girls.

Teams which lose in the quarterfinals go home immediately. Those who lose in the semifinals don’t get to go home. Instead, they get to commiserate over their setback Friday night before going to bed, and then get to rise on Saturday and prepare to play another game, one which means nothing. 

Nothing, except the Kansas State High School Activities Association makes the loser of this meaningless game feel even worse about itself by making that team watch the winning team receive a trophy, while the losing team goes home empty handed. 

I can really imagine a team which lost its semifinal game in double overtime, or the team which lost when the other team buried a 30-footer at the buzzer to turn a two-point loss into a one-point victory, really wants to come back to the same venue less than 24 hours later and have to play another team which is similariy devastated to have had its hopes of a state championship dashed. 

It didn’t happen, but what if the Wichita South girls (6A), McPherson boys (4A-I), Scott City boys (3A), St. John boys (2A), Central Plains girls (2A), Hoxie girls (1A-I) or St. John’s/Tipton boys (1A-II) had lost their semifinal? The aforementioned teams all won state championships in 2014, or in Scott City’s case, lost a championship game after winning three conesecutive titles. Can you honestly tell me any of those schools would have wanted to come back and play the consolation game? 

In the cases of all except Wichita South and McPherson, the teams listed are a long way from home and had to stay overnight Friday. Again, would they have wanted to stay in a hotel and then have to wake up and play the third place game. Worse, they would be getting home late. 

Now, there are some teams which would love a third place game, especially ones which (a) haven’t been to a state tournament for many years, or (b) made a postseason run after a sub-par regular season. But that’s it. 

The NCAA used to have a third place game in the Final Four. It was scurbbed after the 1981 tournament. You could hear coaches and athletic directors breathing a sigh of relief. What was worse about that was the consolation game was played the same day as the final, meaning the losers of the national semifinals had to spend one or two extra nights in a hotel. 

LSU played in the final thir dplace game in 1981. The Bayou Bengals lost 67-49 to Indiana in a game which ended a little after 3 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Central. LSU could easily have done its interviews with the press, showered, dressed and then caught a charter flight at the Philadelphia airport at 7 p.m., arriving in Baton Rouge by 9:30 p.m. Central. The Bayou Bengals even could have flown commerical back to New Orleans and then bused to Baton Rouge.

Instead, the NCAA not onlly forced LSU to stay two extra days, it forced it to practice at the Spectrum and go through interviews that Sunday. The team didn’t get back to Baton Rouge until late Monday night, by which time (a) Indiana had wrapped up the title by defeating North Carolina 63-50, and (b) President Reagan was out of danger after being shot by John HInckley Jr. earlier that day. 

It’s bad enough KSHSAA holds third place games for basketball. Worse, it holds it for every team sport except football. Volleyball and softball are not okay, but at least they’re held at the same time as the championship games, so it doesn’t extend the tournament. But do we need third place games in baseball and soccer? I guess the KSHSAA believes since a third place match is good for the FIFA World Cup, it’s good enough for Kansas high schools. 

What I would love to see is for a team to boycott the third place game. Just don’t show up. Go home after the semifinals, or if the hotel won’t release the team, leave early Saturday morning. Have an administrator call KSHSAA Executive Director Gary Musselman and tell him no way. We aren’t doing it. We want to go home. The school will tell its fans not to show up, and then maybe, just maybe KSHSAA would get the hint. 

Or better yet, a team could warm up for the third place game, and when they go back to the locker room, just walk out and get on the bus. The fans could either not show up, or they could show up and then show solidarity with their school by walking out. Or both teams walk out. 

Problem is, the KSHSAA only cares about one thing: MONEY. They are deathly afraid of losing the (meager) ticket revenue the loss of the third place games provides. If they’re that worried about losing third place ticket revenue, why not increase the prices for the championship games $2? It still would be cheaper than the vast majority of states. 

If you don’t have third place games, you save the fees for 48 officials. You save the utility bills for having to run the electricity for the arena for 3-4 extra hours. And most of all, you allow the tournament workers and concession workers the chance to either (a) sleep late on Saturday or (b) go hom early Saturday. What’s wrong with that? 

In 2011, Jack Krier and I started a policy that we would not cover third place games unless another team were playing for a championship at the same site. I think more and more publications should adopt it. If the news media didn’t care, maybe others would stop caring, too. 

Rant over. Enjoy your Saturday. 

Less than an hour between posts. Bored, aren’t I? 

I’ve given up on playing trivia, at least for tonight. I figured 10 hours was plenty enough. My brain needs some down time before i go at it again tomorrow. I’m guessing Rondo will be there at some point, so I might be playing poker or just blogging. Still, I need to hang out with Brittany. I didn’t get to see her much Thursday, because she had the unfortunate accident which sent her to the ER. Thankfully, no stitches. 

Lisa and Jeff are on their way to St. Louis for the weekend. I’m glad she’s getting away for a couple of days. She had a tough one today, and plus worked Monday through Thursday. She ususally doesn’t work Wednesdays, but picked up a shift for someone else. 

Tomorrow night is a fight night. Probably means I leave not long after Brittany gets off. I’ll stay long enough to see Liz and the night crew come in, and probably I hightail it back to Overland Park before sunset. It’s not a big deal, because I’ve still got Sunday, Monday Tuesday and Wednesday at least. 

Iowa State leads Okalhoma 50-47 with 10:28 to go. Georgia leads South Carolina 40-29 with 18 minutes to go. All except South Carolina are safely in the NCAA tournament. The Gamecocks have to win the tournament, or else they get no postseason bid whatsoever. 

The Mid-Continent’s League’s drought without a boys basketball state champion continues. Stockton fell 46-31 to Doniphan West in the first Class 1A-Division I semifinal at Emporia this afternoon. Don West will play Twin Valley League rival Hanover for the title, and the team from Highland will be a signifcant underdog. Hanover won the two regular season meetings, 54-35 and 69-54. 

Stockton has to play tomorrow. I will get my sopabox dusted off and let loose with another diatribe tomorrow about that. 

Tigers roar into semis

Stockton bucked the Mid-Continent League trend and advanced at their state basketball tournament. The Tigers defeatd Dexter/Cedar Vale, a cooperative between two tiny schools near the Kansas/OKlahoma border, 59-44 in the Class 1A-Division I tournament at the ancient William L. White Auditorium in Emporia. 

The Class 1A-Division I boys tournament has three teams with at least 10 losses this season. One, Pretty Prairie, was 8-12 during the regular season, yet got hot at the right time, winning three games in sub-state to advance. 

I’m not trying to take anything away from Stockton. It’s the smallest school in the MCL, and it has a mighty hard time competing in most sports against Norton, Phillipsburg, Smith Center and now TMP-Marian. The Board of Education there almost voted to pull Stockton out of the MCL–a league it helped found in 1946–but the motion could not get a second and died. I was surprised Stockton didn’t try to leave when the Kansas State High School Activities Association placed TMP in the MCL, the way Trego and Osborne did (although Trego came back), but the Tigers would have a tough time justifying an exit with Plainville and Phillipsburg not too far away on US 183. 

Stockton is seeded second in its tournament despite a 16-6 record. Only Hanover at 22-1 would be a high seed in any classification. The team the Wildcats defeated in their sub-state at Clyde, Osborne, would have been the #1 seed at 18-4 had they won. 

The MCL hasn’t produced a boys basketball state champion since Trego in 2006. Plainville made the 2A final last year, losing to St. John, which looks like it will repeat barring something unforeseen tomorrow or Saturday. 

Class 1A is ridiculously diluted because of the split into two divisions, which first occurred in 2011. There are only 44 teams in Division I and 43 in Division II. No sub-state in 1A has more than six teams in it, and some have five.

Of course, since the Kansas State High School Activities Association places teams in sub-states strictly based upon geography, it means that a few sub-states have #1 seeds who are close to .500, or in a few cases, below it. It leads to sub-par basketball at what should be the time for the best basketball of the season. 

It used to be the 1A state tournament was surivvial of the fittest. Those schools had to go through a regional round first, where two teams would advance. Then four regionals would be paired into pods, and two sub-states would emerge. I can recall three or four teams in a 1A tournament prior to the split with only one loss or undefeated. Now, that’s never going to happen. 

Classes 5A and 6A have had this problem since the KSHSAA adopted its current structure in 1978-79. With only 32 schools in each classification, one-quarter of the schools will advance to state. Teams only have to win two sub-state games, and if the best teams are clustered in one area, some good teams will be sitting at home, while others will be playing with records of 9-13, 10-12 and so on. Or worse. I can recall a 6-14 team getting hot at the right time and making it to state. 

Class 4A now has this problem with two divisions.  

It’s emblematic of the let’s not hurt anyone’s feelings era we live in. Let’s give everyone a medal, let’s let everyone go to state. Guess what? You’re going to lose. It doesn’t make you a loser. The lessons the kids learn playing high chool basketball will serve them well down the road. One of those lessons needs to be how to handle adversity. 

Traveling Thursday

I am glad to be getting out of the Courtyard Junction City in a little bit. I found mold on the shower head. GROSS. I took a picture and I plan on sending it to the hotel. I don’t expect this at Marriott properties. By contrast, the shower head at the Sleep Inn Norton is always clean. I never have to worry there.

I also won’t have to worry about the next hotel at which I will be lodging. The Overland Park Marriott is one of m favorite stops on the circuit. With perfect weather, I won’t have to worry about the long drives back and forth to Zona Rosa, and I’m also within easy reach of the Buffalo Wild Wings at Metcalf and 137th Street. Strangely enough, I got an overall better rate at OP than I would have at the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs.

This will be my first trip to Kansas City since the end of January. Can’t wait.

Kansas State High School Activities Association state basketball continues today. If all of the games were being held at one site, which is the rational and sane thing to do, which is the case in Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska and numerous other states, I would go and watch the games. But with EIGHT sites, you have to pick and choose. It’s awful for the kids. It’s awful for the fans. It’s also a financial hit for the KSHSAA,, which has to pay rent at EIGHT sites instead of one and has to pay more travel expenses to officials than it would having to only pay them at one central location.

Another problem of playing games at EIGHT sites is there isn’t television coverage for most tournaments. The Class 3A tourney in Hutchinson is being streamed online by the National Federation Network, but none of the others are. The only tournament with live TV coverage will be Class 6A at Wichita State’s Koch Arena, when the semifinals and championship games will be aired on Cox Cable channel 22, which is now available in northwest Kansas on Nex-Tech cable.

In Louisiana, all championship games (14 total) are televised on tape delay by Fox Sports New Orleans. Nebraska is even better, televising the games LIVE on Nebraska Educational Television from Lincoln’s Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Big 12 Conference men’s basketball tournament at Kansas City resumes at 11:30 with Baylor taking on West Virginia. Kansas plays TCU in the second game of the day. Kansas State was eliminated yesterday by the Horned Frogs, leaving the Wildcats 15-17. The only way in hell they would play in the postseason is if they agree to play in the pay-for-play College Basketball Invitational (CBI), but I wouldn’t. It would be slumming.

State oversaturation

I am at one of the EIGHT Kansas high school basketball state tournaments right now.

Let that sink in. 

A state with a population of less than three million, with less than 360 high schools, has EIGHT basketball divisions. 

That is beyond silly. It is uttelry asinine. 

There is no need for a state with less than 400 schools to have any more than six classifications. Acutally, FOUR would be plenty. I could live with five. 

There were only four classifications from 1952 through 1968. From ’52 through ’62, any school with 475 or more students was in Class AA, the highest; 151 to 475 in Class A; 61 to 150 in B; and all others in BB. 

The dividing lines changed prior to the ’63 basketball season. It was 56 in AA, 64 in A, the next 224 in B, and the rest in BB. 

From 1969 through 1978, when the Kansas State High School Activities Association had closer to 500 schools, there were only five classifications. 

A sixth classification was added in 1979, and it stayed at six through 2010. 

Class 1A, the smallest classification, voted in 2008 to split into separate divisions for basketball, volleyball and scholar’s bowl (quiz bowl). The Class 1A schools felt they were at a competitive disadvantage becuase they had to go through regional tournaments prior to the sub-state round. 

With 1A split into two divisions, there have been many more mediocre to downright bad teams playing in stsate tournaments. I’m sorry, but teams which go 6-14 in the regular seaon should not be playing in a state tournament, I don’t care what kind of Cinderella story it is. There ought to be a rule for sub-state that teams with fewer than eight wins in the regular season cannot play. Period. 

In 2013, the Claas 4A schools moaned and griped about the gross disparity between the top of the classification and the bottom. So most of the 4A schools voted to split into two divisions for basketball, vollyeball, football, baseball and softball. 

Class 5A and 6A have had the problem with mediocrity in state tournaents for years, since there are only 32 teams in each classification, and each sub-state is only four teams. 

State tournament should be reserved for the best of the best. I would like to see four classifications, which would mean 88 or 89 schools in each. That would mean only the top 10 percent, or slightly less, would go to state. What’s wrong with that? 

Oh, i forgot. We live in the touchy-feely world of the 21st century, where everyone has to have a medal and we need to make sure nobody’s feelings get hurt. So what if your high school basketball team goes 0-21? If that’s the worst thing that happens to a person, he or she is living a pretty darn good life.