|Multiple choices answer aura on UTM quiz |
|Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 5:08 pm |
|On the eve of learning of his team’s first-round opponent in the upcoming NCAA Women’s Tournament, UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan was: |
(D) All the above.
“All the above and more is a great description,” the second-year Skyhawk skipper said Sunday while continuing to prepare the youngest Division I program in the nation experience-wise for its first-ever appearance in the ‘Big Dance.’
“I’ve been through this before when I was (an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee State), but this is totally different. We recruited these kids to our program at UT Martin, and I’m anxious for them and I’m nervous for them. But I’m also excited for them and confident in them because they’ve risen to every challenge put before them so far.
“They know they can compete. Now, it’s can they win?”
While UTM will discover its opening round tourney destination and foe tonight when the 64-team NCAA brackets are revealed via a national television on ESPN at 6 p.m., McMillan insisted he still “had no idea” whom or in what direction his Ohio Valley Conference championship squad might be headed.
The coach said his best guess was that the Skyhawks could be seeded “between a high-13 and a low-15,” meaning they could face a No. 2, 3 or 4 seeded opponent in Round 1.
Possible venues include Bossier City, La., Columbus, Oh., Cincinnati, Oh., or Auburn, Ala.
“I don’t pay a lot of attention to the so-called ‘bracketologists,’” McMillan claimed when trying to forecast his team’s fate. “I look at the RPIs (Ratings Performance Index) to see how many teams are above us and how many are below us as far as the teams who qualify for the tournament.
“Even then, though, nothing is a lock as far as where you might be seeded. If you are close to the site of one particular region host site, they might adjust your seeding one position to keep you from having to travel so far. Still, when you talk about being anywhere from a 13 (seed) to a 15, there’s four regionals and you’re talking about somewhere around 15 teams that could be a possible opponent.
“The moral of all that is that I have no idea.”
Led by the backcourt tandem of OVC Freshman of the Year Heather Butler — the nation’s top freshman scorer at 19.1 ppg — and Jasmine Newsome (17.8) — the OVC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and MVP of the league’s postseason tournament, UTM is unlikely to be intimidated by any higher seeded first round opposition.
The Skyhawks opened the season with 10 straight road games, playing the likes of Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Louisville — all likely NCAA Tournament entries — during that stretch.
“No doubt, that’ll help us,” McMillan insisted. “I expect Kentucky will probably be a four-seed, and if we’re a 13, we can start talking about them and the kids will know the type of team and level they’ll have to play at in order to be competitive and have a chance to win.”
“To have played that caliber of competition early and not just have to see it on tape will be a big advantage for us.”
McMillan said challenges of playing a Top 20 team are multiple, but that rebounding and handling the opposition’s pressure are most critical.
“We can put a lineup on the floor that can handle itself on the boards. And our guard play has been a strength all season and is surely capable of handling itself,” the coach stated. “We still have to score, though, and that’s the third part of that equation. The other team will certainly be able to.
“The challenge for us is to hold our own in all three categories. You’re in trouble if you don’t do so in one. If you don’t in two, you’ll get killed.”
First round games will be played Saturday and Sunday, with second round matchups at 16 pre-selected campus sites are set for next Monday and Tuesday.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.