No Tickee, No Washee
A couple of interesting things in the renewal packet this year.
Meet the team, meet the team, step right up and greet the team. Season ticket holders will have an opportunity to attend a free dinner and open practice in mid-October, date TBD. Called the "Meet The Team Dinner", it promises "up close and personal access to the Notre Dame basketball players and coaching staff" and is sponsored by Famous Dave's BBQ. While it isn't the Midnight Madness I wanted, it's certainly a step in the right direction and shows good thinking for all involved.
As usual, however, I have a suggestion: make the dinner season ticket holders only, but open the practice to the students as well and really talk it up in the dorms (provided the event is not during Fall Break). It'd be good to get the players' classmates out early and interested.
The price is right. Ticket prices will stay the same this season, which is good. The check I'll be writing -- or, to be more precise, the online form I'll be filling out -- will be more, however, because there'll be 20 home games this season. That has to be close to the record. I don't think Digger in his Fairfield-and-Marist-fueled wildest dreams ever got to 20.
But that leads me to...
The games. Oy, the games.
The Big East slate is decent, relatively speaking. Louisville is expected to do well while showcasing a lot of young talent. Ditto Marquette. Villanova is a question mark, but if the game is late in the season, it could provide excitement. And DePaul is always a tradition-laden excellent affair no matter how their team is expected to be. But not a lot else to get excited about on the other half. South Florida, Providence, and Seton Hall aren't expected to do much, while West Virginia replaces their top seven scorers from last year and something like 90 percent of their floor minutes. And Connecticut and Pittsburgh, two teams considered to be among the front-runners for the title, aren't on the schedule at all.
Then there's the non-conference slate. 20 home games minus eight in the conference leaves 12. Take out the two exhibitions and that leaves us 10, and since ND can play only 12 non-conference games total, that's 10 of 12 games at the Joyce Center. Alabama and IPFW will conclude their game contracts, while Portland and Winston-Salem State (recently arrived in D1) are scheduled to come in, probably for one-game contracts.
The remaining six games are TBD. One would hope considering the relatively watered-down BE slate and the presence of RPI-killers like IPFW and WSS on the non-conference list, they'd have some quality programs on them. But the Integer, the ACC, and most of the SEC schools have already released their schedules, and the Irish aren't on them.
I realize the conference is going to 18 games next year and multi-year contracts might be tough right now. I also realize if the Irish get past Butler in Indianapolis, they'll most likely get a game against the Hoosiers, with more quality games in NYC should they overcome Indiana.
But I'll say this now: six "bought" one-timer games is not the way to go here, so I hope that's not what we're going to see. First, the season ticket base isn't going to get emotionally erect over watching Patriot League patsies in the December cold. Second, a schedule this heavy on the cupcakes leaves ND with a razor-thin margin come Selection Sunday. The committee will no doubt be looking to hold the puff piece parade against the Irish, and one misstep could give them that opportunity. Trying to schedule an NCAA appearance seldom works.
I'm hoping for a surprise like UCLA or Arizona or Washington out of the Pac10, or Xavier or Dayton or Creighton, more traditional opponents who are expected to have strong seasons. If at least two of the six come from a group like that, it would go a long way towards stabilizing the SOS component of the RPI, which can only help a Notre Dame team looking to break a three-season NCAA-free skid, and would contribute to an overall-interesting home schedule.
But a steady diet of the Patriot League or America East is bound to give the Irish indigestion in March.
Labels: nd basketball