When the Mountain West and Pac-12 announced last year that they would enter into an officiating alliance, one of the goals was to improve uniformity between the leagues when it came to how games were called. Tuesday the leagues announced that they’ve taken another step in this direction when it comes to basketball in the western United States, with the Big West, WAC and WCC joining the alliance.
As a result of this move, five of the six conferences in which most of (if not all) of their members are located in the western United States are part of this alliance with the Big Sky being the lone exception. According to the release, Bobby Dibler will preside over the alliance as the officiating coordinator.
A major focus of the expanded alliance will be training. Prior to the season, Dibler and staff will host a training clinic for all roster officials to review mechanics, game situations, rules knowledge and other key factors to ensure they are among the best trained in the country. Officials from all five of the conferences will participate, furthering the impact of the collaboration on officiating in the western United States.
With the changes occurring within college basketball, including the move to a 30-second shot clock and increased calls to do a better job of allowing freedom of movement, expanding the alliance isn’t a bad idea at all. Of course this hinges on officials not only being consistent with calls but sticking to it the new initiatives throughout the year.
A couple years ago when there was a move to improve freedom of movement, complaints about the length of games eventually led to a return to things being let go by the time conference play rolled around. There will be complaints, especially in games deemed to be “whistle-fests,” but that’s something people will have to deal with as officials and the rules committee look to do things that will improve offensive production.
For some programs participating in the Maui Invitational there’s a desire to play a game on the way out to the islands in order to avoid too much inactivity before the start of the tournament. That will be the case for North Carolina, which is one of the eight teams booked for the 2016 edition of the event.
Thursday it was announced that the Tar Heels will play a road game at Hawaii November 16, 2016, which will mark the second time in a three-year period that the Rainbow Warriors get to play an ACC team headed out to Maui.
Last season Hawaii knocked off Pittsburgh in a game played in Wailuku, Maui. However the meeting with the Tar Heels will be a true home game for new head coach Eran Ganot, with the contest scheduled for the Stan Sheriff Center.
“This is a tremendous opportunity and honor to compete with one of the premier programs in all of college basketball,” Ganot said in the release. “Can’t say enough about the efforts of so many to make this happen as its not too often you can schedule an opponent of this caliber on your homecourt.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring North Carolina and their terrific, Hall of Fame Coach, Roy Williams, to the Stan Sheriff Center in front of our wonderful fans!”
North Carolina will be part of what should be a very good Maui Invitational field in 2016. Joining the Tar Heels and host Chaminade are Connecticut, Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
The 2014-15 season was the most successful for UC Davis at the Division I level, with head coach Jim Les leading the Aggies to 25 wins, a Big West regular season title and a berth in the Postseason NIT. Friday the school announced that Les has been rewarded with a contract extension through the 2020-21 campaign.
“UC Davis has been a special place for me and my family and I am excited to call it home for the future,” Les said in the release. “I am grateful for the support of Chancellor [Linda P.B.] Katehi, [interim athletic director] Teresa Gould, our administration, and the Davis community. Our job now is to continue to work to build a standard of excellence in our basketball program that matches the excellence of our University.”
Last year’s team was led by Big West Player of the Year Corey Hawkins, who is out of eligibility, and in total the Aggies will have to account for the loss of three of their top four scorers. In addition to Hawkins, UC Davis also loses guard Tyler Les (the head coach’s son) and forward Josh Ritchart, with rising senior forward Josh Fox (9.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg) being their leading returning scorer.
UC Davis’ 25-win season came on the heels of a 9-22 finish to the 2013-14 campaign, one of the biggest turnarounds in college basketball. UC Davis has now won at least 20 games in a season nine times, with current UCSB head coach Bob Williams responsible for five of those (and a Division II national title in 1998).