Neither Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball coach Greg Kamansky nor Cal State San Bernardino coach Jeff Oliver liked the idea of a California Collegiate Athletic Association conference tournament when it was announced a year ago. The first one is a day away and the two like the idea even less now.
Quarterfinal games will be held Tuesday at the sites of the highest seeded schools while Friday’s semifinals and Saturday’s championship games will be at Coussoulis Arena. The No. 2 seeded Coyotes (22-6, 15-5) will open play at home at 7:30 p.m. against No. 7 UC San Diego (15-11, 11-9) while the No. 8 Broncos (11-14, 10-10) will play at No. 1 Humboldt State (20-7, 15-5), whom they played in their regular -season finale on Friday.
On the women’s side, it will be the two local teams squaring off at 5:30 p.m. with the No. 2 Coyotes (21-6, 15-5) playing host to the seventh-seeded Broncos (11-15, 8-12).
Both Oliver and Kamansky have understandable beefs with the conference braintrust.l
Oliver is upset that the Coyotes — who finished tied with Humboldt State for first place — won’t be considered regular-season co-champions by the CCAA, as has been done in the past.
Cal State finished tied with Humboldt for the top spot, each with a 15-5 conference record, and the conference had to break the tie for purposes of awarding the top seed for the tournament. The Lumberjacks got that which Oliver didn’t really have a problem with but he does think the teams should be considered regular season co-champions.
In 2005, the Coyotes finished tied with Cal Poly Pomona and the two were declared co-champions. Both got banners. Cal State has finished first or tied for first in seven of the last nine years.
“They’re telling me I can’t even claim a share of the conference and I have a problem with that. My kids worked hard and a conference title is what you strive for as a program. To say that we’re not at least a co-champion is asinine,” he said. “There will be a banner hanging in Coussoulis Arena, I guarantee that, even if I have to buy it myself.”
The CCAA has criteria for deciding a regular-season champion and others for deciding who gets into the tournament. But the line is blurred. Among the criteria is “executive decision.”
The Coyotes had a better strength of schedule, better overall record and higher West Region ranking than Humboldt, but the teams split their head-to-head games, although the Coyotes would have come out on top had point differential come into play.
But their being taken out of the equation came down to another team’s game which Oliver didn’t think was right. The conference’s criteria called for the first-place tiebreaker to be finish against the third-place team — a problem, because five teams finished tied for third.
When that tie was broken Cal State Los Angeles was third. Both Cal State and Humboldt swept their series against the Eagles. Humboldt came out on top because it swept Cal State Monterey Bay, which eneded up fourth, while the Coyotes split.
Dominguez was set up to finish third all alone but was upset by 3-17 Chico in its regular season finale. Had that not happened the Coyotes would have been the top seed because Humboldt lost a game to the Toros.
“As even as all these teams are it doesn’t seem right it should come down to that,” Oliver said. “But no one has told me what tiebreaker was used so I still don’t know for sure.”
Kamansky’s beef with the conference is that he was never notified as to where his team was playing by a conference representative. Instead he had to told by one of his players who found out on the Internet.
The Broncos knew they would play on the road Tuesday with the possibilites being close to home at San Bernardino or at Humboldt where they were already hunkered down having played the Lumberjacks that night.
The team had plans to return home Saturday, unless their quarterfinal opponent was Humboldt again, in which case they were to stay in Arcata.
San Diego was in the same position, having played Friday at San Francisco and needing to know where to go next.
Cal Poly athletic director Brian Swanson tried to call conference officials late Friday but had no luck reaching anyone for verification.
Both Kamansky and Oliver said they will take up their issues with the powers that be at this weekend’s conference meeting held in conjunction with the tournament.
“I might just have to explode. Friday night we were sure we were playing San Bernardino. Humboldt was sure we were playing San Bernardino,” Kamamsky said. “We should have just showed up at San Bernardino Tuesday night.”
Kamansky’s other issue with the conference tournament is the time it takes his players away from classes. The Broncos were out of school all last week because of the northern road trip and now have to stay an extra four days because of the game Tuesday.
If the Broncos were to win the CCAA tournament, they would advance to the regional — which will likely be held in Alaska.
“We would have kids attending their classes for about three days in three weeks, right before finals,” he said. “That’s not what we should be about. When they started this tournament they said it was for the student-athlete. Well I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the student-athlete. The athlete, maybe.”
Tickets for Tuesday’s quarterfinal games and for the semfinals and title games later in the week will go on sale today at 10 a.m. at Coussoulis Arena. For more information call the ticket office a (909) 537-5048.