Big changes in MIAC WBB

MIAC women’s basketball coaches and school administrators have approved a major change in the way the conference schedule is organized.

Currently, all 12 conference teams play each other twice — once at home and once away — for a total of 22 league games.

But beginning with the 2014-15 season, the MIAC will switch to an 18-game conference schedule. Each team will play every other team once and seven of the other 11 teams twice. The scheduling will be done on a random rotation. Thus far only the scheduling arrangement for the 2014-15 season has been set.

“”We’re still working on that part of it,” MIAC executive director Dan McKane said. “There are a couple of options. Do you play the same teams twice over the next several seasons or does it change from year-to-year? So far, we don’t have things set beyond 2014-15.

“We didn’t want to go to divisions and this keeps us away from that. Divisions are just something historically we’ve tried to avoid as a conference.”

The changes will allow league members more flexibility when it comes to nonconference scheduling. The current 22-game MIAC schedule leaves teams with just three opportunities to play nonconference games in the 25-game regular season the NCAA allows. 

St. Benedict coach Mike Durbin said the league’s coaches are hoping more nonconference games will improve the league’s overall strength of schedule and lead to more conference teams receiving at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.

“We just felt like our league was not being represented at the level we should be or that other leagues are,” Durbin said. “Because of the way the current (NCAA) selection process is set up, this was a change that had to be made.”

The change should also allow teams more scheduling flexibility in January and February — months that often see schools playing four games in a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and the following Monday).

“In practicality, it should do that,” Durbin said. “It all depends on how you schedule your nonconference games, of course. Our goal is going to be to try and avoid Monday games as much as possible. We’ll probably try and play in more nonconference tournaments early on — hosting one ourselves and maybe traveling to one as well.

“The only downside I can see to this is that it might force us to play at or around Thanksgiving, or to come back from Christmas break sooner than we’d like to. But we’ll have to see how the schedule works out.”

McKane said the conference’s men’s basketball scheduling format remains unchanged, although there has been discussion of changes there as well.

“I think with this move by the women, it may create more interest on the men’s side to do something similar,” McKane said. “But I think if you took a vote of our men’s coaches right now, it would be pretty split.”

The league’s release announcing the change said further announcements would detail changes in baseball and football. But McKane said the change in football will have to do with changing the name of a postseason award, and that the current football scheduling format remains unchanged.

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