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Larranaga questions CAA teams' NCAA credentials

George Mason Basketball: Larranaga questions CAA teams' NCAA credentials

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Larranaga questions CAA teams' NCAA credentials

While it should be a surprise to no one that Jim Larranaga is actively pumping up his Miami team like he did for the George Mason, it is a bit of surprise that he is questioning the CAA's NCAA tournament credentials after spending years lobbying for the conference.  Now I don't disagree with the notion that the CAA doesn't have the resume as a conference to be in the conversation for at-large bids but did Larranaga really have to speak out like this while not even being a full year removed from the mid-major conference? Here is the transcript from the Daily Press:
Question: “You've been through the are they in, are they out talk before at George Mason. Just wondering how you address it, if at all, with your players?”  
 Answer: “No, we don't talk about it at all. I would say this, having been at the mid-major level for 25 years, and I still follow that closely, this has been a year where the non-conference performance of the high majors far exceeds what the mid-majors were able to do. “There have been years — and last year was one of them — where the mid-majors’ performance was outstanding. With the expansion of the field from 65 to 68, a couple of more mid-majors were able to get in. In this particular year looking at their non-conference performance, it would appear to me that those spots should be reserved for the high majors who played a much more difficult non-conference schedule and were far more successful than any of the teams in the mid-majors. “I think you see that if you watch the BracketBuster this past weekend, a lot of the so-called quality teams, highly regarded, didn't do that well.” 
Question: “Would you be saying the same thing if you were sitting back there at George Mason at 14-2 in the CAA though?” 
Answer: “Yeah, but if you look at their non-conference strength of the schedule, it's in the 300s. That's not the resume that the committee has looked for over the years. You look for people who have really challenged themselves in the non-conference. And not only challenged themselves, but did pretty well. “If your strength of schedule is 200 and below in the non-conference, as a committee, you look at that and say, ‘Well, you know what have they proven?’ They can win games against weak opponents, but there's no weak opponents in the NCAA tournament. Those are the teams that even the automatic qualifiers from a weaker league have had to win a lot of games to put themselves in a position to win the tournament and be in the and the at-larges are basically the next 37 strongest teams. “If you look at the field overall, it's rare anybody's RPI is below 40 to 50. I think the lowest ranked RPI team to get in last year was VCU with 49. So if you look at the RPIs right now, there are not a lot of mid-major teams that have played a very strong non-conference and performed well. They might have won games, but still their strength of schedule is in the 200s, and 300s, and their RPIs are in the 100 to 150. That's not a resume for the NCAA tournament.”
What he is saying in general about the CAA is definitely true as it's not a banner year for the conference, especially non-conference schedule wise. But saying it's a down year for mid-majors as a whole just isn't true.  As writer David Teel states the top 35 of the RPI is full of mid-major programs.  Larranaga saying CAA at-large possible teams have non-conference strength of schedules in the 300s is also just not true. VCU's is 171, Drexel's is 235 and Mason's is 239, so he could have at least gotten the facts straight before sounding off on his former conference. Let's not forget that about 90% of Mason's non-conference schedule for this season was put together by him and his staff and he knows how difficult it can be to get quality teams on the slate. And saying it's rare for teams with RPIs outside of 40-50 to get at-large bids is funny when Teel points out that last season Michigan (52), Florida State (55), Clemson (57), Marquette (64), and Southern California (67) all received bids. And lastly not sure why he thinks teams with an RPI in 100-150 range are being considered for an at-large berth, no one is saying they are. That just came off as a nonsense filler statement trying to belittle the mids and speak highly of the BCS conferences.

Back in 2010 he was actively saying the tournament should be expanded to let in more mid-majors:
“I would say that if they’re going to expand, it has to be to get more of the midmajors in,” Larranaga said in a phone interview. “They just don’t get a chance to play the high-major opponents on a neutral floor.”
Of course Larranaga is going to campaign for this team but I think he could have just kept his mouth shut on the negative stuff he had to say about mid-majors and the CAA.  


Anonymous AndyMinor said...

Would love to see Miami get knocked out by Drexel in the first (er, second?) round.  Jus' sayin'. 

9:22 AM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

Yeah how much do you want Miami to make the dance just to see them get stomped by Murray St or Wichita St?

9:27 AM  
Anonymous AndyMinor said...

I think Drexel would be better...the smile on Bruiser's face would be incredible.  Extra incredible if Drexel got in as an at-large.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Christopher Hirsch said...

Taylormade will not like this post.

You're spot on Ryan. I get why he said what he said, but his facts are all off, and it seems kind of slimy to bash the school he just left less than a year ago.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Patriot74 said...

Wow coach L bashing the Mid-Majors to pump up his new team. He looks like an oppourtunist now.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous gmuhoops said...

I hope people don't see this a larranaga bashing post, it's really not, just wanted to post what David Teel mentioned that he's just plain wrong on his facts. The same facts we saw him boast about for years in the CAA. At least get them straight if you're going to criticize another conference.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Don't see it as a bashing post but man it's disappointing for him to have gone on this diatribe!  Not only did his former team have to go though a coaching transition-one I never begrudged him for taking-but now a guy like Ryan who deserves the tournament, has his former coach proliferating the "CAA doesn't deserve two" conversation.  He's diplomatic enough to answer that question without slamming the conference.  Lame. 

10:47 AM  
Anonymous StopWearingPurple said...

I give him a pass.  He was asked about being a bubble team and he now coaches a "Major".  He has to stump for Mediocre Majors otherwise he gets called on the carpet by the school and the ACC reminding him where he now coaches.  The CAA comment was a response to a direct question about whether he would say that if he was still at GMU.  I'd love for him to still pump GMU and the CAA but the reality of it is he cannot do that while at an ACC school.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Christopher Hirsch said...

Doesn't mean he has to bash them with incorrect statements.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Rmjank said...

He may have gotten some of his facts wrong, but that's probably because he didn't have the numbers before him.  In substance he is correct that it is a down year for the CAA, but in my opinion it's because it was a down year EARLY for the CAA... meaning that collectively we didn't get the quality wins against major programs when we had the chance (or in Mason's case, that we blew our chances to play major teams by losing to Florida InterCosmopolitanAtlantic University).  So I do wish he had said something about the difficulties we have scheduling good opponents, and that what we're left with are slim opportunities to prove ourselves.  Because when we collectively fail to win even a couple of those handfuls of early games, the opportunity to build up the RPI vanishes.  For a contrary example, we need only look at last year, where Mason did not really have any signature wins, but we consistently won against midmajor opponents both in and out of the CAA that DID have a signature win or two on their belts -- so we collected a lot of "second hand" RPI credits.  Then you look at this year, where the top 4 in the CAA all walked away with Bracketbuster wins but only got about a 10 point boost in the RPI.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Charlie T said...

I really do wish Coach L and his staff well. After all he put Mason on the map and that really helped the CAA. The system might be better if the bracketbusters were to take the top teams in alleged mid major conferences and play the middle teams in alleged BCS conferences. To judge teams in November and December from alleged mid majors when really no one likes to play them home and home from the BCS is a bit off. A few years ago Drexel had some big wins and where did they go. As far as comments by BCS coaches, like people running for president,it depends on your audience.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Moses said...

Coach L speaks mostly the truth and is putting his program and his conference front and center- just like he did with GMU. Doing his job. One thing he misses is that even the bigger name conferences get pretty diluted below the top 3-4 teams. It's not a given anymore that a weaker Big Ten or ACC team would roll a top mid major team. It's proven again and again in the tourney. The talent levels aren't so different.     
 I wish him all the best and I am psyched to see P Hew scheduling much stronger non conference opponents for us going forward. 

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Ross_williams1 said...

Coach L has always been part salesman and he now just selling someone else's product. It is  interesting that he spent 14 years being the spokesman for Mid Majors and it took him less than a season to start bashing them.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Dsndsn said...

I guess that it is suddenly okay "to gore the Mid-major ox", when you are now a "high major". The only thing that keeps me from screaming "hypocrite" in a very loud voice is the less than stellar performance of this years crop of mid-majors in the RPI. If Mason fails to make the NCAA field (God forbid) we can only hope that the "creative" NIT match-makers "arrange" for an early round NIT game between "Thug U" and Mason (hopefully in Fairfax).

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Season Ticket Holder said...

It sounds like Larranaga may have a bitter taste in his mouth about his depature from here.  He did not waste any time in leaving.  So far I'm impressed with the new coaching staff.  Excellent clock management at the end of VCU game extending the game. 

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

I disagree with many of the statements made.  With that said, he put my university on the map.  Before him George Mason was either "you meant Georgetown, right?" or "where's that?"  I choose to look at the positive and not make this a big deal.  He could say George Mason is the scum of the earth - it still wouldn't change the fact that he brought that Final Four banner, he brought notoriety to the university and conducted himself with total class while he was here for 14 years.

Wouldn't GMU basketball be better off if we never had Coach L and could go back to the glory years of Ernie Nestor and Paul Westhead?  Wasn't it great going 7-17 every year?  Wasn't it great having an entire row to yourself at basketball games?  Those were the days! (For the sarcastically challenged, that was sarcasm.)

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Dsndsn said...

Hey, I don't think anyone is saying Larranaga is a bad guy or that he doesn't deserve the highest praise for what he did at George Mason, but what he said if taken as true runs contrary to everything he stood for championing the cause of the "Mid-major", so eximplified by the recent Final Four performances of Mason, VCU and Butler (twice). His comments make him seem like a shill numerous for the midling high major this years Miami aquad...who are always in competition with top mid-major "also-rans" for at large slot"s. I always will remember Billy Packer questioning the inclusion of Mason OVER several high major teams on the 2006 NCAA selection show. I was hoping that the recent performances of Mason, VCU and Butler (twice) would have put an end to this discussion once and for all. Apparently not....BUT to hear this argument from the former "lead proponent" of greater inclusion of mid-major teams, is to say the least "very disappointing".

8:53 PM  

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