Assistant Sports Editor
Commonwealth Times’ Sports Twitter
Now that two CAA teams have made the Final Four in the past five seasons, a lot of people are wondering who will be the next team to make a run.
The next logical choice would be Old Dominion because they, along with George Mason and VCU, are considered the “Big Three” in the conference. But ODU head coach Blaine Taylor is in no rush to hop on the “magic carpet”, as he called it. In fact, he believes the NCAA Tournament is overrated when it comes to measuring the true value of a program.
“You can’t value yourself based on the tournament,” said Taylor. “The Tournament can make rock stars out of average people.”
Prior to arriving at ODU, Taylor was an assistant coach for a Stanford team that was ranked No. 1 in the country for parts of two seasons, but never made it to the Final Four. He said that they were the best program in the country but the fickleness of the NCAA Tournament was something they could never overcome. That said, it wasn’t that important to Taylor because the tournament is not on his list of things that measure a program’s strength.
“The tournament is not really the litmus test on whether your team is strong,” said Taylor. “It’s a bonus baby. Program strength is ‘What is your attendance like?’ How good are you year after year?’ ‘How do you do in your league race?’ ‘Do you get to postseason play?’ Beyond that, jump on the magic carpet, go for a ride, see what you can get done and those are some great memories. But the people that try to do that are the ones breaking all the rules and end up with their programs on probation and nobody graduates.”
As cynical as that may sound to a VCU fan, Shaka Smart expressed a similar viewpoint when he served as the closing speaker at CAA media day. Smart alluded to the fact that Taylor was chosen as the speaker last year because ODU had won the conference the year prior, and that he thought Taylor should have been up there again on Tuesday instead of him because ODU also won the CAA Tournament last season.
Like VCU, ODU was ousted by Butler in the NCAA Tournament last season, but their loss came in heartbreaking fashion in the round of 64. Whether Taylor’s disdain for the tournament is based on his lack of success in March both as an assistant and as a head coach is unclear, but it will be interesting to see if his opinion changes should ODU have their own breakthrough run in the next couple of seasons.