By John Crumpacker
LAS VEGAS -- BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe was not around to see his women’s basketball team play for the West Coast Conference championship on Tuesday, a thrilling game won in an upset by San Francisco 70-68.
In his role as a member of the NCAA Men’s Selection Committee, Holmoe was required to be in New York for the heavy lifting involved in assembling the 68-team field for this year’s tournament.
“They traditionally meet in Indianapolis,’’ Holmoe said. “They felt it was a good opportunity to (go to New York) to meet with the media and CBS. We’ll meet Wednesday and start putting together votes.’’
The Committee will announce the field on Sunday. Selection Sunday.
“Six (conference) tournaments wrap up on Selection Sunday,’’ Holmoe said. “So we have 12 contingency brackets going into Sunday. Woo! If there’s a big upset, especially if there’s somebody that wasn’t going to get in, you have to bump someone out. You can’t do the seed lines until those are done. If this team wins, where do they go? You can’t do it until the tournaments are done.’’
As a member of the Selection Committee, Holmoe is not permitted to advocate for either BYU or the West Coast Conference. Each member of the Committee is responsible for disseminating data on seven conferences and for Holmoe, it’s the Pac-12, Southern, Summitt, Metro Atlantic, Big Sky, Big West and the WAC, with a particular emphasis on the Pac-12.
Stanford athletics director Bernard Muir has the primary responsibility for stating the case for the WCC, which has three strong candidates in Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga and BYU. However, the national dialogue regarding the WCC is that it could be a one-bid conference this season.
Such talk greatly displeases Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who made his feelings known Monday night after outpointing BYU in a terrific semifinal at the Orleans Arena.
“The dialogue, it almost seems like it’s been set,’’ Few said. “I disagree with that. … I think the league has been under-valued. … The eye test tells you BYU is a tournament team, Gonzaga is a tournament team and obviously Saint Mary’s is a tournament team.’’
Asked about the WCC, Holmoe said, “It’s a really good conference. To see what Saint Mary’s has done with five new starters, that’s incredible. And what Gonzaga has done without (center) Przemek Karnowski. Those two teams have stayed at the top. I’m impressed with the conference.’’
However, Holmoe noted, “It’s an unusual year. I think the WCC’s year was analogous to the general NCAA year. There wasn’t a team in the WCC that was dominant from start to finish. That’s how it is in the NCAA. There’s a lot of intrigue about Gonzaga because they have such a tradition in the WCC. I can’t talk about the WCC at all. If somebody has a question, I can answer that but I can’t advocate for the WCC. I know their strengths and weaknesses better than anybody.’’
This is Holmoe’s second year on the Selection Committee. Members normally serve for five years. Starting Wednesday, he and his fellow members will settle in for five days of discussion culminating on Selection Sunday. Although 68 teams receive good news, there are always others that are bitterly disappointed at being left out.
“That’s why they call it March Madness,’’ Holmoe said.
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards.