Home » The Morning Dish » Currently Reading:

The Morning Dish – Friday, December 25, 2015

December 25, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

First off, wishing a blessed and Merry Christmas to all.

The holidays once belonged to college basketball, and in particular tournament play.

Here’s hoping what has gone around comes back around again.

Like most sports, college basketball has traditionally played only sparsely on Christmas Day-the Diamond Head Classic currently finishes up on Dec. 25, and most notably in the past the Chaminade Christmas Classic tourney did the same in the 1980s. That’s perfectly acceptable-the holiday is special and holds great meaning for so many, and it goes without saying that, with limited exceptions, sports fans’ entertainment should not supersede that.

Going back for decades though, the sport traditionally has played tournaments around the holidays, including a number of prestigious and once-prestigious events. The Far West Classic was an eight-team Portland tradition for more than 30 years, while the Holiday Festival also was a premier showcase, hosting eight teams every year at Madison Square Garden. Both were played after Christmas but before New Year’s.

Looking at Thanksgiving, the Great Alaska Shootout and Maui Invitational have developed into longstanding traditions. At the high school level, holiday invitationals are still extremely popular on Thanksgiving weekend and over the Christmas and holiday breaks. It makes sense; at its best, basketball is a tournament sport.

The Far West Classic disappeared years ago, while the Holiday Festival and Great Alaska Shootout have diminished in stature. The Maui Invitational is still among the elite events for now, but that could slip away quickly if its TV partner decided it would prefer to focus on the exempted events it promotes. The Rainbow Classic, unofficially a predecessor of the Diamond Head, still continues today, but is now one of those exempted “tourneys” that is just a glorified round-robin.

The talk never ends of how the college basketball regular season is meaningless. While those following the sport closely know otherwise, it never hurts to look for ways to spice up areas of the season that could use it, and the non-conference portion of the year certainly can use it.

The sport should get back to playing more holiday tournaments again, especially after Christmas and before New Year’s. There’s no reason to cede the week to guarantee games and the glut of college football bowl games that is a good 20+ more now than it needs to be. If ESPN is not interested, then other networks should get on the ball and go for it.

To help things along, the entire exempted tournament qualification also needs to be fixed by the NCAA. No more loopholes giving passes to promoters playing round-robin schedules to fulfill the minimums for an exemption and then passing their preferred foursome automatically through semifinals. Events should be true tournament formats, start to finish, and they should feature schools, conferences and home cities having the primary role in putting them on, not TV networks or third-party organizers. Those events are more likely to draw a home gathering than yet another event in Las Vegas.

If looking for quantity, then let’s add more of the old four-team tournaments again, like the Sun Bowl Invitational which UTEP recently hosted for the 54th straight year. Regardless of the competition or the location, it’s still an accomplishment to win a tournament. Even in a worst-case scenario, it certainly beats playing a guarantee game with virtually no stakes but to see whether the hosts can score enough points for free tacos for all students in attendance.

Oregon State recently revived the Far West Classic name this year, beginning with a pair of doubleheaders in Portland. Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle is attempting to buck the odds and is hopeful to build the tournament back up to its past status as one of the sport’s premier events, even while understanding the climate is against it right now.

Tinkle and Oregon State’s attempt is a good one, worth far more than just a good nostalgia trip. It’s a template for what tournaments in the sport should be, and what the holidays can be for the sport too. Christmas and Thanksgiving with families is a good thing. After those holidays is a perfect time then to catch some good basketball.

Side Dishes

  • The Diamond Head Classic concludes today, highlighted by the championship game between Oklahoma and Harvard (8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN2). The Sooners will be heavy favorites, but the Crimson has made a nice run to the championship game and has a chance to register a memorable title game upset. Incredible statistic to gnaw on: OU enters this game shooting 47.2% from three-point range for the season. Hard to imagine the Sooners (or any team) can keep that up all season.
  • Other games include host Hawai’i against Auburn for third place (6 p.m., ESPN2), BYU taking on Northern Iowa for fifth (3:30 p.m., ESPNU) and New Mexico against Washington State for seventh. Besides heavy favorite Oklahoma, this tournament has been incredibly balanced.
  • A news item from Wednesday: TCU announced that former Texas A&M guard Alex Robinson is transferring to the school. Robinson is a former four-star recruit and an excellent athlete who got lost in some numbers at A&M this year. He did not play this year but averaged 5.2 points and 2.6 assists per game last year as a freshman.

Merry Christmas!

Twitter: @HoopvilleAdam


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

College Basketball Tonight – March 19, 2018

March 20, 2018 by

We discuss the wild early rounds of the NCAA Tournament, joined by special guest Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal for one segment. In addition, we touch on coaching news and other issues surrounding the college game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 17, 2018

March 17, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, there is one main story to focus on: history being made in Charlotte and its aftermath. But we also talk about tough times for the Pac-12 and a key member school, plus an added challenge ahead at Pittsburgh.

College Basketball Tonight – March 11, 2018

March 12, 2018 by

College Basketball Tonight returns with a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament bracket, and in the second segment Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian joins us.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2018

March 10, 2018 by

As Championship Week nears its climax on the big Saturday, we look at a pair of semifinals and a lot of bubble teams that may be sweating it out on Sunday.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 8, 2018

March 8, 2018 by

As Championship Week heats up, we talk about bubble teams who may or may not want to earn their way into the NCAA Tournament, as well as a couple of mid-majors whose conference championship game was played earlier in the week.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.