May 10, 2011

Nine Questions: MCLA Chair Ken Lovic

by Jac Coyne | | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Georgia Tech head coach and chairman of the MCLA tournament selection committee Ken Lovic released another set of brackets on Sunday. He sits down for a brief Q&A about the process.
© Cecil Copeland

The MCLA selection committee is entering its third year of existence, and Ken Lovic, the committee chair answered nine questions after both the Division I and II tournament brackets were released on Sunday night.

1. As I was putting together my mock brackets, the D-I seemed a lot easier than the D-II. Is that how it was for the committee, too?

At-larges for D-I was definitely a quicker conversation because there were two teams battling for one slot after the Buffalo upset [of Boston College in the PCLL tourney]. That became a pretty quick conversation, as well, because the two teams had similar résumés, but they had played head-to-head. So that was kind of the defining moment.

In Division II, there was some spirited conversation, but that was actually a pretty quick phone call. The committee was quick at looking at again the sort of Top 10 wins, résumé, travel, getting all the things we were looking for. It was self-apparent at that time who was who. The bottom part of the bracket was pretty simple too. We worked from the front and the back at the same time and then came to the middle of it. It proved pretty easy for them.

2. Was there a lot of debate over seeding?

That was the longest conversation we had. The at-large conversation was about 10 percent of our phone call and 90 percent was about our seeding process. It was about how to divide the teams up. The first six or seven were pretty easy. We were able to put those in pretty quick. The remaining nine or so were difficult for us, particularly how we were going to break them all up.

3. There were teams that were seeded a good distance from their poll ranking. What do casual observers need to know about how you use the poll?

The majority of what we use the poll for is to view how the coaches see these teams. We look at the poll as a baseline to look at where these teams are considered nationally. We utilize them, but we don't lock ourselves into them, mostly because of the fact that these opinions, from a selection committee's perspective, are skewed to a point.

A lot of times they are based on records and not based on the skill level of the team. A lot of that is beause some coaches don't get to see teams or watch tape on them or whatever it may be. It's a factor, but we don't look at it as a hard line: "Oh that team is a No. 8 for sure." It is a guideline to work with.

4. It doesn't constrain you?


5. Did Elon take itself out of the running in Division II?

Yes. They contacted us soon after the SELC tournament. If we could have assured them that they were going to get an at-large bid, they would have come. It's not a process where I could assure them until the call was done. They elected to remove their name, mostly because their graduation is on that Saturday. They just said it just got to be too much.

We did say they were in the conversation and they were on the list; we have no problem telling teams that. But we can't say where they are on the list and how they compare with everyone else. No one is guaranteed a spot until the Sunday of that final phone call.

6. Did Buffalo winning the PCLL impact the ease of selecting the at-larges?

Essentially, there are six at-large bids, and when it came down to the first vote of the committee, the first four at-larges were an easy one for us. Those four teams walked right in. We had three teams fighting for two spots. One of them we felt had enough to push them in right away. Then we basically came down to two teams for one spot. Had Buffalo not won, we would have had three teams for two spots, or four teams if you wanted to consider Buffalo.

7. Did you think in this third go-around you had everything down to a science and could avoid some of the time-consuming aspects of years past?

Yes and no. From the at-large standpoint, it became easier for us. It's getting easier for us to look at at-larges in relation to what our expectations are. Maybe it was just how things played out this year that made it easier with some teams records and how they finished. There were a couple of teams that eliminated themselves because they didn't make their own conference tournament or had a terrible loss at the end.

The seeding will probably always be our most difficult part. You can lock in the top five or six teams, but the hard part is separating the bottom nine. Even looking at the NCAA Division I bracket that came out, I'm not even sure what process they used. It's not easy.

8. Do you find that there are individuals on the committees who have differing or competing philosophies on how the seeding should be done.

Yes. We all definitely have varying opinions on how it should be done. The good part is that we are trying to get our best teams seeded one through 16. How we get to that is through the information that teams provide us, and that is by their body of work. We may think that this team is better than the other team, but their resume doesn't allow us to truly believe that, and that's what makes it tough.

9. On these calls, are you the referee or the moderator?

A little of both. It depends on how much of a tangent we go off on, which can happen a lot. With the personalities we have on our committees, we can go off on tangents pretty hard and pretty fast, and it's my job to reel them back in.

My job is to keep things together, but I'm just as passionate as these guys are in making sure that we're doing this right. My name is on it, and people are going to come to me so I want to make sure we are doing the best we can getting the best teams, getting them seeded correctly, and having the most competitive tournament we can.

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