ARTICLE OF THE DAY

ECU Basketball Scheduling Criteria
by Coach Mack McCarthy
1/16/07


(Editor's Note: The following has been provided by ECU Basketball and Coach Mack McCarthy.  There have been many questions as to how ECU schedules its non-conference opponents.  This gives an in-depth look at the challenges and issues that go into deciding how the basketball schedule is made.)

1.      Academics
2.      Budget
3.      Home and Away Schedule Balance
4.      Local and Regional Fan Base
5.      Recruiting
6.      Rivalries
7.      Team Building (preparation for conference play)
8.      Television

*All criteria are equally important in building our non-conference schedule.

 
Detailed Explanation of Criteria

Academics:  This is very important.  We are guaranteed to miss quite a bit of class time due to the distances we travel in C-USA.  Therefore, we try to miss as little as possible in the non-conference portion of the schedule.  Every trip this season in the non-conference schedule is a bus trip, and there are only two games scheduled during the weekdays (Richmond and UNC-W), and we will miss only one full day due to those two games

Budget:  This is obvious from several different perspectives.  Cost of travel to a game site is one Budget consideration.  We travel all over the country due to our C-USA schedule, flying to every away game and the conference tournament.  Therefore, we feel should stay in our region as much as possible due to this factor.  How much money we can make on a home game is also a factor.   Some teams at our level and even below are paying exorbitant guarantees for home games.  There is a limit to how much money we make on a home game, and losing money to bring in teams that, in general, the fans don't care about seeing doesn't make sense.  Conversely, playing these guarantee games to make money would hurt us in several of the other criteria we have established (ex. Home and away schedule balance, team building, local and regional fan base).  When we play a two for one series, like we are with Wake or NC State, in order to balance the schedule we have to play a guarantee game.  We make approximately $25,000 on a home game.  The going rate for a "buy" game is between $50,000 and $100,000.  This cost is growing each season.  Simple math will tell you our administration has to balance the budget while funding 19 intercollegiate sports here at ECU.  This definitely hurts the bottom line.  The selling of season tickets is also a budgetary issue-maintaining enough home games and quality home games factors into our budget planning.

Home and Away Schedule Balance:  No successful team in America is playing more road games than home games.  This criterion is impacted by several others-budget, fans, recruiting, team building, and academics.  The budget considerations are obvious as it relates to season ticket packages and individual game ticket sales.  Fans want to see you play on a regular basis.  If you are traveling more than you are at home, they can't get into that regular routine of coming to Minges for their entertainment.  Recruits like to see you play at home in a great atmosphere, hopefully against quality competition.  The best league in America (the ACC) had a .500 record in true road games over the past two season.  No one wins consistently on the road.  Playing too many road games does not help you build a team.  Academic considerations are also important in relation to playing as many home games as possible.


Local and Regional Fan Base:   We want to provide as many good games as possible for our local and regional fans to see.  This is done by having as many home games as possible, and as many regional games as possible that the fans can drive to see.  We have no true rivals in C-USA, although this will happen eventually.  In the meantime, our rivals that our fans recognize (ACC teams, old CAA foes, games with regional implications against good teams, like UNC-W, UNC-C, ODU, Winthrop, Davidson, etc.) will be a priority for us in that regard.  We also attempt to schedule as many Saturday night contests as possible for our fans' convenience.  This has a surprisingly big impact on the budget line item, also.  *In any particular season, our needs and wishes may or may not coincide with some of the schools we wish to schedule.

Recruiting:   Young men want to compete against the best teams in the country.  We could play better teams by playing lots of road games where you have very little chance to win, you unbalance your schedule, you miss too many classes, your fans don't get to see you play, and you lose money on season tickets sales and cut into your fan base.  We will play any good team on an even basis-play at their place, play at our place.  We have even compromised that slightly by playing some good teams twice at their place to get them here once.  This is a problem, and you have to allow for that in balancing your schedule.  One other way you can address the recruiting issue is to schedule games in the prospects' home area (such as playing at Morgan State for Tyronne Beale who happens to no longer be here).  This is done by most top programs and is something we are attempting to do, also.  Prospects also want to play on winning teams that go to the NCAA.  Therefore, considerations of winning and losing, and team building are factors in scheduling as it relates to recruiting, too.

Rivalries:  We addressed this previously in another topic, but basically we haven't really developed any rivals in the C-USA yet.  This is in part due to the fact that we haven't been very good.  Teams competing for championships become rivals.  We aren't there yet.  Therefore, we try for the regional rivals we cited earlier-the ACC, old CAA foes, and regional teams that are contenders in their leagues like ODU, Winthrop, UNC-C, etc.  This makes sense as it relates to travel, missed class time, budget issues, local and regional fan base as well as the established rivalry criterion.


Team Building:  This is a complicated issue.  We need to play as challenging schedule as possible, while understanding a particular team's abilities and experience.  The better and more experienced our team is, the tougher the schedule should be to prepare us for the C-USA slate.  Winning is a habit.  ECU hasn't had a winning season in a decade.  We need for winning to become a habit.  Recruiting is part of that.  Coaching is part of that.  Reasonable scheduling is a part of that.  Putting together a schedule that challenges our team, yet prepares us to win and perform better as we go through the season, is our goal.

Television:  This is important as it relates to several areas of the basketball program.  Our fans seeing us on TV is one area.  Recruits seeing us play on TV is another.  Fans seeing us play well and being motivated to come to more games is a factor.   Television might also move games, from home to away or vice versa, or to neutral sites.  This also impacts all of the other factors in our scheduling criteria. 

Coach Mack McCarthy