Attendance---When you get some brilliant people in a room, that are not afraid to express their opinion, lots of good happens.
That is exactly the scenario in Portland, Oregon over the weekend, when a TOWN HALL took place on how to increase basketball attendance on all levels of college and high school basketball. In attendance were coaches, media, athletic administrators, top flight marketing people and fans who care about the game of basketball.
The discussion was lively, spirited and full of great ideas. In case you have missed previous Crawford's Courts, for the fifth straight time in the 2011-12 season, attendance at D-1 basketball games decreased. It remains stagnant on the all levels of basketball for both men and women. So much so, that one out of four team in D-1 basketball in the last four years has seen at least a 20 percent drop in attendance. High school basketball by some accounts in the last 10 years has seen a decrease in attendance of at least 40 percent nationwide. This can only be described as a CRISIS on all levels and I am going to continue to write about it, because it needs attention.
Back to the weekend. The basic theme that came out of the TOWN HALL, which was open to the public, was that there needs to be a better experience created for the fan, who not only wants to see a great product on the floor but also wants to be entertained. And not necessarily by the cheesy promotions that some schools try to pass off year after year. No wonder the nation if overweight, with all these pizza promotions that every school seems to thrive on. Hey I like pizza, just like everyone else, but let's get creative people.
So if you would like to know more about the TOWN HALL you can email me, but out of respect for the people who did show up and also people that contributed ideas, but were not able to make it, I do not wish to spill all the beans here in Crawford's Court.
One more thing I can assure about, we all were unanimous as well, that if things don't change to make it a better experience for students and fans to attend games, you might as well play all your games on the road. Schools get with it, plenty of talented people want to work in the sports business, if you have someone in your area of marketing, promotion and ticket sales that is not cutting the mustard, make a change, it is that simple.
Seattle U---As a long time long time follower and admirer of Seattle University basketball, it is great to see the Redhawks playing in a league and actually a pretty good basketball league, the Western Athletic Conference. Even though the team is 0-3, I have to think for everyone league play sure as heck beats an independent schedule, which is mandatory for four years, when a team such as Seattle did, when they went from D-2 to D-1.
Mac's Message--- It is Monday, so time for another wonderful message, per a question from a reader, from Portland State assistant basketball coach, Andy McClouskey.
"Coach Mac, we have some athletes on the Viks basketball team, what is the thinking of a full court press and putting more pressure on the offense. Also, what makes a good full court press in your expert opinion?" Jason---Sellwood District---Portland, Oregon
"Jason, I appreciate you see that we do have good athletes on the Vikings team this season. It is interesting that you think of athletes and go to the next step to PRESS and apply more pressure. Going into the season we were thinking we might be able to press a little more with this group and use our speed and quickness to apply more pressure. We also felt that we might have the depth to play that way. Then as the pre-season practices came we had so many injuries to key players that getting that part of our defense in became lesser of a priority. We just could not expand our defense to include pressing on a full time basis. We have used the press to our advantage in a few games and it has been good to us.
I think what makes a good press is similar to what makes a good half court defense.
1. You must have great basketball protection so do not give up easy shots at the rim.
2. You must apply constant pressure to the ball-handler so they can't pass or advance the ball freely.
3. You must anticipate passes when the ball is double teamed so that interceptions or steals can be a result of the pressure.
All this has to take place with limited gambling and it is more the offense making mistakes as a result of the pressure as opposed to STEALING the ball. We are going to take advantage of the offensive mistakes when they occur yet not gamble to help the offense if that makes sense.
There are many ways to play and put together a team and sometimes team issues or injury situations dictate policy, so to speak.
Thanks, Happy New Year and Go Viks." Coach Mac---Portland State
Craw's Nine---Best nine teams in the six western leagues that play D-1 basketball. Remember, this is in the moment, record counts, but not the total way to get into the Craw's Nine.
9. Montana---Will Cherry is back for the Griz, do I need to say more.
8. Weber St.---No drop off, after losing maybe the best player ever in Big Sky
7. Arizona State--Good pre-league and off to fast start on Pac-12
6. Utah State----WAC is going to have tough time with these guys, this season
5. Oregon---They are deep, quick, great shooters and a wonderful team
4. Arizona---In the moment, not the best part of their season, still unbeaten
3. UCLA---I picked them in September to win the Pac-12 and sticking with it.
2. Wyoming---Big test, now they get the giants in Mt. West, but they earned number 2
1. Gonzaga---Final Four, I see it coming and big move to top of Craw's Nine
"100 in 90"---Big week, saw six games, moving my total to the year to 35, on pace. Really enjoyed watching the Clackamas Community College women's team this past week beat SWOCC in the opening of NWAACC league play.
Scores---I am slipping, bad week last week, especially picking the Beavers to beat the Ducks. I am 30-8 for the year, but I really finish strong, so watch out.
110 Arizona (62) at Oregon (78) Ducks are the better team after this one
110 Sacramento St. (60) at Portland State (94) PSU plays best game of the year.
112 Denver (64) at Seattle (69) Good chance for Redhawks to win WAC home game
112 Portland (58) at Loyola (59) Tough start for Pilots in WCC, road is brutal
112 Washington (83) at Stanford (73) Romar always wins big in January
113 Michigan (79) at Ohio State (77) OT--- This is the year for Big Blue.
GregCrawford@csnnw.com and twitter @wchoops askGregCrawford