Oct 7, 2010
Only 1 Basketball Champion In Rhode Island From Now On

EAST BAY — The new tournament to crown a single state champion for boys’ high school basketball has received enthusiastic support from most observers, including those coaches of the area programs.

“I was pretty much in there to make it happen, said East Providence head coach Alex Butler, who was intimately involved in the discussion about the new tourney format in his other role as vice president of the Rhode Island High School Basketball Coaches’ Association.

The league really wanted it. The coaches, we didn’t oppose it, we just wanted a few things, continued Butler. We wanted to start the season a little bit earlier. We wanted to keep our 18 games. We fought hard and we were able to keep that. I don’t think it does anything but create more excitement for the state. I think people are really excited.”

The tournament structure calls for a 16-team bracket. The regular season champ, the team with the best overall record, in each division earns an automatic bid into states.

The field will be comprised of eight teams from D-One, five from D-Two and three from D-Three. The teams will be seeded the same way with the D-One teams holding the top eight spots, the next five by D-Two teams and the last three by the D-Three qualifiers. The top seed from D-One (No. 1 overall) plays the third seed from D-Three (No. 16) in the opening round, etc.

“I think the new format is going to be really exciting for the kids, said Portsmouth head coach Mike Lunney. Having the chance to qualify to be in the last 16 teams will give schools added incentive to finish as high as possible which will add importance to the regular season league games.”

The existing playoff format for the three divisions will continue to be played and remains basically the same with only slight changes. The divisional tournaments will each have fields of 10 teams. In the past, D-One had 12 teams make the playoffs while in D-Two and D-Three any team with a .400-or-better win percentage qualified.

The winners of the three division postseason events also gain automatic entry into the new state event. The possibility exists, then, for a seed lower than No. 8 in each division to make states if it can win its playoff tourney. As an example, the No. 9 seed gets hot and wins the D-One title. The eighth seed, based on the regular season record, would then be bumped out of the state field.

“Some people might think that’s harsh, but it gives teams an incentive, Butler said. It’s an incentive to do well during the regular season, play for the best possible seed so that it doesn’t happen.”

The “Hoosiers” notion, one which gives the so-called smaller schools an opportunity to claim the mantle of “state” champ, permeated much of the discussion to return to a format last used in the mid 1960s.

“In a state the size of ours, this concept will certainly create more interest in boys basketball in March, Lunney added. It’s fun to discuss if a smaller school from a lower division can really compete with traditional D-One powers, but it’s even better when it can be answered by playing it out on the court.”

South Kingstown, which won three titles in succession from 1965-67, was the last school outside of what was considered the top division to win the “state” championship.

“There is a tremendous amount of parity throughout the state, so the new tournament is a great start, said Barrington High coach Pat Sullivan. You could have made an argument last year that either Portsmouth (D-Two champion) or Central Falls (D-Three champion) was one of the best teams in the state at some point.”

Added Butler: “You always hear people talk and complain that a team from D-Two or Three could win the whole thing. Well, now here’s their chance. But people forget you have to compete every night in Division One. There are no off nights. There are no easy games. But now all those other teams get their crack at winning it all.”

The tournament to crown one state champion comes on the heels of a new four-year realignment plan approved by the Rhode Island Principals’ Committee on Athletics late last spring, which saw some movement of area sides.

Portsmouth, after winning the D-Two title last winter, joins the state’s elite in Division One while Mt. Hope, which has struggled since its heady days as a D-Two title contender and winner earlier last decade, steps down to D-Three. Staying put was East Providence, which remains a Division One side, as well as Barrington and Tiverton, who stay in D-Two.

The only disappointing aspect of all the changes expressed by some of the area coaches was the breaking up of traditional rivalries among the East Bay schools due to realignment. With Portsmouth moving up and Mt. Hope down, a large chunk of games involving locals disappears from the regular season schedule.

“We should regionalize and have one open league, said Sullivan. The new alignment has Mt. Hope in D-Three and East Providence in D-One. It’s a shame we do not play each other in the regular season.”

Mt. Hope head coach Mike Topazio would have also liked to keep the local rivalries intact, but wouldn’t have signed off on a league where his Huskies would have had to vie with D-One level teams on a regular basis, not at this point in his program’s existence anyway.

“The big thing for us is that we wanted to stay with the East Bay teams. We could be competitive, but we just weren’t winning enough games. To stay in Division Two, even with Portsmouth and Coventry moving out, would have still been tough. People don’t understand, but Division Two is a very tough league.”

Topazio has taken a measured approached to dropping down a league, he and the school administration believing its best for the program.

“This is about lifting the program back up. It’s a very good thing for the program, Topazio said of the Huskies’ new digs.

On the new state tourney format Topazio, the long-time coach who enjoyed a very successful tenure at Barrington two decades ago, added: I always thought it was the way it should have been. We should have tried this a long time ago. I like the set-up. I think it’s going to be very exciting for boys’ basketball. I think it’s a great idea.”

Only 1 Basketball Champion In Rhode Island From Now On

From EastBayRI.com

EAST BAY — The new tournament to crown a single state champion for boys’ high school basketball has received enthusiastic support from most observers, including those coaches of the area programs.

“I was pretty much in there to make it happen, said East Providence head coach Alex Butler, who was intimately involved in the discussion about the new tourney format in his other role as vice president of the Rhode Island High School Basketball Coaches’ Association.

The league really wanted it. The coaches, we didn’t oppose it, we just wanted a few things, continued Butler. We wanted to start the season a little bit earlier. We wanted to keep our 18 games. We fought hard and we were able to keep that. I don’t think it does anything but create more excitement for the state. I think people are really excited.”

The tournament structure calls for a 16-team bracket. The regular season champ, the team with the best overall record, in each division earns an automatic bid into states.

The field will be comprised of eight teams from D-One, five from D-Two and three from D-Three. The teams will be seeded the same way with the D-One teams holding the top eight spots, the next five by D-Two teams and the last three by the D-Three qualifiers. The top seed from D-One (No. 1 overall) plays the third seed from D-Three (No. 16) in the opening round, etc.

“I think the new format is going to be really exciting for the kids, said Portsmouth head coach Mike Lunney. Having the chance to qualify to be in the last 16 teams will give schools added incentive to finish as high as possible which will add importance to the regular season league games.”

The existing playoff format for the three divisions will continue to be played and remains basically the same with only slight changes. The divisional tournaments will each have fields of 10 teams. In the past, D-One had 12 teams make the playoffs while in D-Two and D-Three any team with a .400-or-better win percentage qualified.

The winners of the three division postseason events also gain automatic entry into the new state event. The possibility exists, then, for a seed lower than No. 8 in each division to make states if it can win its playoff tourney. As an example, the No. 9 seed gets hot and wins the D-One title. The eighth seed, based on the regular season record, would then be bumped out of the state field.

“Some people might think that’s harsh, but it gives teams an incentive, Butler said. It’s an incentive to do well during the regular season, play for the best possible seed so that it doesn’t happen.”

The “Hoosiers” notion, one which gives the so-called smaller schools an opportunity to claim the mantle of “state” champ, permeated much of the discussion to return to a format last used in the mid 1960s.

“In a state the size of ours, this concept will certainly create more interest in boys basketball in March, Lunney added. It’s fun to discuss if a smaller school from a lower division can really compete with traditional D-One powers, but it’s even better when it can be answered by playing it out on the court.”

South Kingstown, which won three titles in succession from 1965-67, was the last school outside of what was considered the top division to win the “state” championship.

“There is a tremendous amount of parity throughout the state, so the new tournament is a great start, said Barrington High coach Pat Sullivan. You could have made an argument last year that either Portsmouth (D-Two champion) or Central Falls (D-Three champion) was one of the best teams in the state at some point.”

Added Butler: “You always hear people talk and complain that a team from D-Two or Three could win the whole thing. Well, now here’s their chance. But people forget you have to compete every night in Division One. There are no off nights. There are no easy games. But now all those other teams get their crack at winning it all.”

The tournament to crown one state champion comes on the heels of a new four-year realignment plan approved by the Rhode Island Principals’ Committee on Athletics late last spring, which saw some movement of area sides.

Portsmouth, after winning the D-Two title last winter, joins the state’s elite in Division One while Mt. Hope, which has struggled since its heady days as a D-Two title contender and winner earlier last decade, steps down to D-Three. Staying put was East Providence, which remains a Division One side, as well as Barrington and Tiverton, who stay in D-Two.

The only disappointing aspect of all the changes expressed by some of the area coaches was the breaking up of traditional rivalries among the East Bay schools due to realignment. With Portsmouth moving up and Mt. Hope down, a large chunk of games involving locals disappears from the regular season schedule.

“We should regionalize and have one open league, said Sullivan. The new alignment has Mt. Hope in D-Three and East Providence in D-One. It’s a shame we do not play each other in the regular season.”

Mt. Hope head coach Mike Topazio would have also liked to keep the local rivalries intact, but wouldn’t have signed off on a league where his Huskies would have had to vie with D-One level teams on a regular basis, not at this point in his program’s existence anyway.

“The big thing for us is that we wanted to stay with the East Bay teams. We could be competitive, but we just weren’t winning enough games. To stay in Division Two, even with Portsmouth and Coventry moving out, would have still been tough. People don’t understand, but Division Two is a very tough league.”

Topazio has taken a measured approached to dropping down a league, he and the school administration believing its best for the program.

“This is about lifting the program back up. It’s a very good thing for the program, Topazio said of the Huskies’ new digs.

On the new state tourney format Topazio, the long-time coach who enjoyed a very successful tenure at Barrington two decades ago, added: I always thought it was the way it should have been. We should have tried this a long time ago. I like the set-up. I think it’s going to be very exciting for boys’ basketball. I think it’s a great idea.”






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