Sticking Up For Duke?
Coach Gary Williams was wrapping up his chat with a handful of reporters yesterday when he turned the tables on the men with the notepads and recorders.
“Hey, I got a question for yah,” Williams said. “You see the (Associated Press) rankings? Duke went down to ten, went from five to ten, I guess, because of that Rhode Island game (Sunday). UCLA plays Miami of Ohio. They were up one with 30 seconds left. I was watching the game last week. They stayed the same. Why does UCLA stay the same and Duke go down? Same thing. Duke won at the end, both playing on their home court.”
First, some clarification. After a week in which Duke appeared shaky in an 82-79 win over Rhode Island and was not overly impressive -- regardless of what the scores would indicate -- in blowout wins over Georgia Southern (97-54) and Presbyterian (80-49), the Blue Devils fell two spots in the AP top 25 poll, from No. 8 to No. 10.
UCLA, on the other hand, remained unmoved at the No. 4 spot in the AP poll after a close win over Miami of Ohio (64-59) and a smashing of Prairie View A&M (82-58).
So while Williams exaggerated Duke’s one-week fall just a tad, he still had a point. Both teams killed clearly inferior opponents before squeaking out home victories over opponents of similar talent levels, yet one fell and the other remained steady. The reason, at least to Williams, is clear.
“That’s a little bias out there, just so you know,” Williams said.
A West Coast bias, Gary?
“No, I think there’s a bias against the ACC,” Williams said. “I’ve thought that for a long time. I mean, that’s a pretty good example. They both should fall, but why only Duke? I don’t know this but Rhode Island is probably as good as Miami of Ohio, I would think. They’re comparable, you know? But I’m just saying, it’s like where does that come from?
“It used to be (the other way around). I don’t know (when that changed). I just think, like this league here with Youngstown’s in with Butler and those leagues to a good job now of selling their teams; they really do. They lobby really well.”
The team Maryland plays in a few hours, Youngstown State, belongs to the Horizon League, a conference of mid-major programs whose national prominence has grown significantly in recent years.
When asked whether his own conference, the ACC, could do a better job of promoting its teams, Williams’s initial response was brief (“Yep.”), but then he explained his rationale.
“It has to be a 12-team lobbying deal and it has to be a league lobbying deal,” Williams said. “Everybody has to be involved. You know, the first thing the Big East does every year at their (media day) press conference is tell everyone else how many teams they should have in the NCAA tournament. This year it’s 10. Now, you can laugh at that. You can say there’s no way they’re going to get 10, but they put it out there. They’re not afraid to put it out there. See, we didn’t do that at the ACC media day.”
Which brought Williams to his next, and final, point …
“We have to change our media day from a Sunday to a mid-week day like the Big East has,” he said. “You know, you can’t compete against the NFL for a media day. You know, you have to be mid-week and hopefully that’s going to happen in the future. The (ACC women’s basketball teams) had their media day mid-week this year.”
And with that, another entertaining afternoon at Comcast Center came to a close.
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