by Pam Chvotkin, College Basketball Editor
With the college basketball season right around the corner, here’s a primer for what to expect in DMV hoops this coming season.
Right off the bat, I want to mention that local schools, outside of Maryland and Georgetown, have the potential to gain a new following depending how long the lockout lasts for the NBA. College ball in the D.C. area can help to fill the void of a lack of an NBA season and basically, we want to introduce fans to the blog and the reason for covering college basketball in D.C.
Biggest changes that made national news in the offseason:
- Gary Williams retires, Mark Turgeon from Texas A&M comes in.
- Jim Larranaga takes Miami job, Paul Hewitt from Georgia Tech comes in.
- Big East potential shift, break up of the Big XII, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, potentially University of Connecticut, Notre Dame.
- Major changes at George Washington – Karl Hobbs out as head coach after 10 years, replaced by Mike Lonergan of the University of Vermont. Also notable: Jack Kvancz is out as GW Director of Athletics after 27 years, replaced by Patrick Nero.
- No NBA season – what does this mean for local college teams in the area? More exposure?
There have been a lot of changes in the D.C. area college basketball for this upcoming season, with just a few days until the traditional “Midnight Madness,” started right here in the area by University of Maryland’s Charles “Lefty” Driesell. The current NBA lockout issues have canceled the first two weeks of the regular season, meaning five games lost for the hometown Washington Wizards. How long the lockout lasts will be the key statistic, but what can basketball fans do in the mean time?
College basketball in the District can help fans fill the void from washed out NBA games, but even more important, give fans a chance to see some good basketball from up-and-coming stars. There are a number of exciting teams in the region — even outside of the area included on my infographic – like the Cinderella story of the 2010-2011 season, the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams out of Richmond, Va, that will bear watching this season.
Throughout the course of the season we’ll also cover schools not in the immediate neighborhood — but still considered local — such as Towson University, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Tech and University of Virginia. We are still unsure how the conferences will be determined after changes are made to the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East Conference, Patriot League, Atlantic 10 Conference, and Colonial Athletic Association, if any, but I assure you, it won’t be pretty.
There are already stories going around about how Texas Christian University signed with the Big East and left to go to the Big XII for a few million bucks. Now you’re thinking like me in saying, well TCU never really fit anyway and it’s better for the Big East because of travel constraints and other issues. We need to look at the big picture. What do these schools have in common? The beauty of all of these teams (and teams located in our area) is their diversity. In both academics and athletics, each of the schools in the DMV area provides some fan with a connection they can relate to.
Food for thought in the upcoming season:
- How will Maryland honor its traditions while moving forward in this new era?
- How will Jim Larranaga fare in Miami?
- The return of Kevin Broadus, Othello Harrington, two very big additions to the Georgetown staff.
- Exposure of the Patriot League, CBS to broadcast several games.
- How will the A-10 keep themselves relevant with the changes going on, including playing their closing tournament at the Barclay Centre in Brooklyn, N.Y., at the same time the Big East Tournament is going on just down the road at Madison Square Garden.
- The latest on NCAA changes, rules, regulations, and stories.
Lest we not forget women’s college hoops, where the Lady Hoyas of Georgetown made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year, eventually falling to the UConn Huskies.
So what’s next? Midnight Madness is coming up on the Friday, Oct. 14, beginning around 9 p.m. at your local schools. It is the first chance of the season to introduce players and coaches to the students and fans alike. This year, University of Maryland is featuring four starters from the 2002 National Championship team playing in an alumni game set for 10:30 p.m. at Comcast Center. Notables alums Steve Blake, Juan Dixon, Chris Wilcox and Byron Mouton are expected.
Tournaments to watch for:
* BB&T Classic, featuring Maryland, VCU, and George Washington. Colonials head coach, Mike Longernan, explains that the team will be traveling from GW to Verizon via metro. Check out The Washington Post article here. To find out more and to purchase tickets for the BB&T Classic, visit their website.
* 2011 Maui Invitational – A heavy bracket matchup this year, Georgetown is featured among 11 other teams from around the NCAA are set to play Thanksgiving week in Hawai’i. To find out more and to look at brackets, visit their website.
Looking forward to buzzer beaters, overtimes, close calls, questionable refereeing, the rivalry games. Most importantly though, we’re just glad college basketball is finally back.
Pam Chvotkin is the College Basketball Page Editor for District Sports Page. She is currently pursuing her MBA and Masters in Marketing and is a credentialed member of the DC sports media for several sports organizations. A lifelong fan of DC sports, she is constantly on the radar helping to promote the latest game or event. She has her own blog called, Break In The Action, and serves as the PR/Communications Chair for the University of Tennessee Alumni group in the area. You can follow her on Twitter @reddusfoximus.