The Man behind the NCAA curtain
Dan Guerrero will be the man in the spotlight Sunday when the NCAA Tournament bracket is announced.
He is the chair of the selection committee, and before he and the rest of the committee hunkered down to start filling out the most important bracket of them all, Guerrero did a conference call with the media on Wednesday. Here’s the transcript from that call:
DAVE WORLOCK: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to today’s teleconference with Dan Guerrero, director of athletics at UCLA and chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. We want to thank everyone for joining us today live from the selection room at the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis as Dan and the rest of the committee soon begin the five‑day process of seeding, selecting and bracketing teams for the 2010 Championship.
Dan, we’re winding down what many agree has been a unique season. Teams ranked in the top 10 at the start of the season may not make the NCAA tournament. Teams that were unranked in November reached the top five in the polls. In the same week, several teams had jaw‑dropping wins and head‑scratching losses. In the end the committee’s faced with the job of evaluating a deep pool of teams that will surely be under consideration as the week progresses.
Can you talk about how this year stands out from the previous four years that you served as a member on the committee:
DAN GUERRERO: Good morning, David, and all of you in the media. There’s no doubt the committee will be faced with difficult challenges this year. This afternoon we will be submitting our initial ballots that will place those first group of teams into the field.
I’ll be very interested to see what that number is. If you go back over the last four years, that number has ranged anywhere from 18 to maybe 26. I’m not sure what it will be this year. If it’s on the lower end, it’s likely there will be a greater number of teams that will be under consideration. If it’s on the higher end, obviously teams under consideration may be just slightly lower than what we’ve seen in the past. Nevertheless, it’s going to require us to really dig deep.
As trite as this sounds, there’s a lot of parity across the country; a lot of teams that look alike. We will need to dig deep with all the nitty‑gritty, all the information that we’ve been able to garner over the course of the season, both by watching games in person, on television, and of course by talking to each other. It’s part of the process of the dialogue that will continue throughout this entire week that will allow us to get our work done.
We understand why we’re here: to make the tough decisions and ultimately come up to a consensus with the 34 best at‑large teams in the country. Despite the difficult deliberations we have before us, we feel good about where we are. We’re ready to discuss understand evaluate these teams and I know that we’re up for the challenge.
As I said, it’s been an interesting season, arguably one of the toughest during my tenure on the committee. But we know that in the end we’ll be very pleased with the decisions that we make. We know that it will fuel a lot of discussion among the fan base throughout the country, and that’s good. That’s great for college basketball.
We have been entrusted in placing the field of 65 that will in the end create a masterpiece, that’s what we believe, because it has been a great, great tournament throughout the years and it’s no doubt it will be a great tournament this year.
With that I’m ready to take any questions.
Q. Dan, most people doing brackets are finding it hard to find 34 worthy at‑large teams. I am sure in your position you have to be diplomatic. Can you compare the quality of the teams on the fence and is that going to make it easier or tougher?
DAN GUERRERO: The issue of quality of teams is always a subjective question, as you know. If you’re comparing one year to the next, that really isn’t a factor for us. We believe that any team in the field has pros and cons. They have strengths that we’ll need to be able to assess, and certainly every team might have some weaknesses as well. There’s no perfect team out there. Every team has some blemishes.
Our charge as I indicated earlier is to pick the 34 best. It’s the 34 best that are in the field this year. Of all the 300‑plus teams we have to assess and evaluate, we know there are a number of teams out there that have had excellent seasons. And I believe that the field of teams we have to select from will be very representative of the quality that you see throughout the country.
Q. Dan, at some point after this tournament, this committee may be charged with weighing the merits of expanding the field, perhaps by a lot. Could you be honest. Are there any free moments when you go back to your room potentially after a day of deliberations, will you be weighing the merits of what kind of teams you’re looking at, whether a much larger field would be too loose, whether you would be looking at teams you wouldn’t be comfortable with from a competitive standpoint? Will that be an undercurrent in any way in your private thoughts and other committee members’ private thoughts for down the road?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, let me be perfectly honest. I believe that the discussion of expansion is sort of an evergreen topic, something that has always come to the forefront of the committee over the years. It’s certainly heated up in present times.
It will have absolutely no impact on the discussion this weekend from the committee. It’s really irrelevant to what our charge is. Our charge, of course, is to select and seed and bracket this tournament, and that’s completely where our focus will be.
Q. I didn’t mean applying it in any way to your deliberations now. I just meant privately thinking, Okay, if we were looking at 96, for example, would we be comfortable with looking at this many more teams or these kinds of teams, just playing any kind of private ‘what ifs’?
DAN GUERRERO: No, privately we’re focused on picking the best 34 teams this weekend. I don’t think there’s anybody in this room ‑ I can’t speak for any of the other committee members ‑ but I don’t think there’s anyone thinking about what might happen in the future.
It’s pretty simple. I mean, our charge, as I indicated, is to pick those 34 teams, and I’m being perfectly honest about that.
Q. Another way of asking the question, I guess, that was just asked: How would a 96‑team tournament impact the selection process?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, once again, it’s very difficult to answer that question right now because we’re focused on a 65‑team tournament. There needs to be a lot more discussion, a lot more deliberation on what could happen and what might happen.
But it’s pure speculation at this point. Frankly, from our perspective, we know what our task at hand is. I’m not trying to dodge the issue in any way, shape or form, but it’s not a reality in our world right now, so there’s no sense really needing to address it.
Q. If you could comment on how the seeding process works. I know national rankings almost never correspond to the seedings. But with I think as many as eight or nine teams outside the BCS conferences in the top 25, do you think we’ll see more so‑called mid‑majors seeded higher than perhaps we have in previous seasons?
DAN GUERRERO: You know, it’s hard to say at this point in time because we haven’t really gotten into it. But we’ll have a better sense even this afternoon. We’re going to submit our initial ballots. Once again, that number of teams that is entered into the field this evening could be anywhere from 18 to 30. You just never know.
I believe that we’ll immediately get to the seeding process. We can certainly do that, possibly seed a couple of lines, always knowing that we’ll need to scrub those as the week progresses.
You know, we’ll have X number of teams in the field by virtue of our initial ballot, and by virtue of those teams that have already made the field as a result of either their automatic qualification status, whether they won the conference tournaments or in the case of Cornell, they’re in the field because they won the Ivy League. All those teams will immediately be in the mix and we’ll start sorting through the process at that time.
But, you know, every team is viewed independently. We look at the merits of their respective seasons in comparison to the other teams that are in the field. That’s how we seed. We don’t seed by conference affiliation. We don’t select by conference affiliation. So we’ll go about our business measuring one team against another.
Q. Dan, I know the committee judges a team by their full body of work throughout the season. How important are the conference tournaments, aside of course from those teams that win them and get an automatic bid that way?
DAN GUERRERO: Well, yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. Conference tournaments are really important because in most cases it determines who gets the AQ for that conference.
But, you know, it’s part of the puzzle. There’s no question about that. Conference tournaments can enhance a résumé to some degree. But I think it’s important to note that when we lock down here on Wednesday, you know, conference tournaments represent about 1% of all the games that are being played during the course of the season. There are over five thousand games played during the course of the year. I think 40 games possibly or around there will be played between now and Sunday.
You know, we need to look at it from that context. We’re just as interested in a lot of respects as everyone else across the country, but we can’t discount games that have been played during the course of the entire year. Those games are very meaningful as well.
Q. You talked about the initial ballots that you’ll be turning in this afternoon. From your experience, how much variance is there from those initial ballots to the final tally?
DAN GUERRERO: Can you clarify that for me?
Q. I guess I’m wondering how reliable are these initial ballots in terms of kind of locking in who is where, who is in, not, and even seeding, doing it now this afternoon to what you come out with on Sunday.
DAN GUERRERO: Okay, I understand. The initial ballot sets the initial at‑large field. The teams we submit into the field this afternoon in that initial ballot are what we consider are no‑brainers. These are the teams that we feel are locks, whether they win their AQs or not. In essence, once they’re in, they’re in. Then we’ll be narrowing down the rest of the under‑consideration pool for the rest of the week’s discussion, and we’ll begin to massage the field and put those teams in as the week progresses.
Q. It seems that year to year the committee places varying degrees of emphasis on early‑season wins against top‑25 and top‑50 teams. I’m wondering for you, those early‑season wins, do they have less importance because they occurred in November or December?
DAN GUERRERO: You know, as we talk about the whole concept of an entire body of work, obviously a win is a win. Every win is important. Every team’s résumé is different. It’s certainly one of the factors as we evaluate what that body of work is.
As you well know, there are a number of criteria that are subjective in many ways, but each committee member places a different weight on certain kinds of things. We certainly understand that teams can mature over the season, that there’s a learning curve possibly early in the year. During the season a lot of things can happen. You can deal with issues of injuries, a number of things that can affect how a team performs.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 16150OKC Central: Architectural "Worsts"
- 14605Oklahoma storms: Profile of Life: Megan and Case Futrell
- 10995Oklahoma baseball: Joe Simpson 'thrilled' that Sunny Golloway left OU
- 9399Was Special Treatment Given in Oklahoma Vice Mayor DUI Traffic Stop?
- 9121'Firehouse' in Oklahoma City's Deep Deuce is set to become new home
- 8921Classen School of Advanced Studies valedictorian disappears while hiking with family in Ecuador
- 7695Live blog: "The Voice" Season 4 live finale
- 7584Norman man threatens Oklahoma Gov. Fallin's 'child' and local sheriff in emails
- 7477Two teacher programs at Oklahoma universities called ineffective
- 7078Red meat might be delicious, but not as nutritious
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients