Straight From The Hart
March 18, 2014
On behalf of our program, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to our inaugural (half) season in the new and improved Moody Coliseum. Overall, it was a success! Of course, we are always seeking ways to get better. Please let us know if you have questions, concerns or ideas regarding your Mustang Basketball experience. We value your feedback!
We are currently in the process of determining ticket prices and donation levels for next season. It is our goal to carefully and thoughtfully balance the need to develop resources in support of our program with the financial demands on our fans. Differentiating seat types to maintain value and accessibility is an important component. We expect to have more information to share soon.
After some needed time to reflect on the events of Selection Sunday, and digesting the commentary locally, regionally and nationally, I thought I would share a few thoughts on the topic...
We accept that we could have played better in any of the nine games we lost and eliminated any doubt about our postseason destination. We are moving forward and, as Coach Brown asked of our student-athletes and coaches, we will do all we can to take advantage of this opportunity to extend our season - to finish the right way! There is one issue, however, which I feel needs to be addressed with our fans - our out-of-conference strength of schedule.
A number of factors influence our non-conference schedule. When developing the 2013-14 schedule, considerations included the make-up of our team (young, unproven), having to play our home games at several different venues (American Airlines Center, Curtis Culwell Center, Dr. Pepper Arena and Moody Coliseum), and entry into a new, more competitive conference. It is an inexact science, but we did our best to build an appropriately challenging slate of opponents.
The result was a schedule which included road or neutral court games against teams from the A-10 (Rhode Island), Mountain West (Wyoming), SEC (Arkansas, Texas A&M), Big 12 (TCU) and ACC (Virginia). These games, when coupled with our schedule in The American (SMU was picked to finish 6th in the preseason) and opponents such as NCAA perennial powers Louisville, UConn, Memphis, Cincinnati and Temple - all twice - appeared at the time to offer an appropriately challenging slate.
Looking back, I believe our schedule did appropriately challenge our team. We collected 23 wins, 12 in the conference, and were competitive in every game we played - within "striking distance" at the last media timeout of our nine losses. Our team ranked in the top-15 nationally in offensive FG% and defensive FG%. We played nine teams in the NCAA tournament field (with a 4-5 record in those games), collected four victories against ranked opponents - the most since the 1955-56 campaign, and finished tied for third in the conference.
Many droughts ended this season: we beat a ranked team at home, beat a top-10 team at home, beat a ranked team on the road, hosted seven sellouts at Moody Coliseum (including the final six games), earned a national ranking (as high as 18th and finishing at 25th/23rd), and, while we didn't end our NCAA tournament drought this year, we are in the NIT for only the third time in school history, and the first time since 2000.
We have a chance to play up to three more games in front of our home crowd on national television. We have a chance to win our first NIT game ever. We have a chance to advance to NYC and play in The Garden. We have a chance for our two seniors - Shawn Williams and Nick Russell - to end their playing careers as champions. That is where our focus is now; and I invite you to join us for the last leg of this journey.
Tickets and info for Wednesday's NIT matchup with UC Irvine are available here. Due to the quick turnaround time and the uncertainty surrounding game dates/times, we are only able to offer season ticket holders in premium seating areas - suites, loge, club and floor - the opportunity to purchase their same seats. All of the blue seats located above the concourse are general admission. This practice has been successfully implemented at schools such as North Carolina, Arizona State and Oklahoma and allows us to move the maximum number of tickets in a short period of time. If we learn there is a better way to allocate tickets in the future, we will modify our approach.
Again, my comments about our schedule are not aimed at the selection committee or anyone sharing the belief that our "body of work" was not deserving of a ticket to the Big Dance. We had opportunities to solidify our position. Our student-athletes, coaches and fans accomplished a lot this year; and those achievements should be celebrated.
On the women's side, SMU will host a WNIT game for the first time in program history on Thursday, when Texas Southern comes to Moody Coliseum for a 7 p.m. game. This will be our sixth appearance in the postseason tournament, and the fourth in the last six seasons. We have a great group of seniors and hope that you will come out and support the team. Tickets and info for this WNIT matchup are available here.
See you all at Moody Coliseum for some "bonus basketball"!
Go Mustangs and Pony Up!
Rick Hart Director of Athletics