While I have gotten a couple of messages about how great the Notre Dame game is for the program and is a game that I should be excited about, I’ve been more hesitant than most to like the idea of a game like the Notre Dame game. Perhaps it’s because I’m expecting to get blown out, but I see a few other items as well…
Recruiting. If The Dukes are going to continue recruiting Ontario hard, which Burt has said was a priority, then playing a game like this in Ontario is a surefire help.
The Dukes get a chance to go out of the country for a road trip. It should benefit both team bonding as well as future recruiting to say that the Dukes will travel to Ontario if not invited to a tournament like the Gulf Coast Showcase in Florida for recruiting.
I love when coaches try to schedule trips around letting seniors make a return trip home. For as much as you could say negative about Rick Majerus, one thing that he always made sure of was that if you stuck it out with him for your four years he would get you a road game near your hometown if it was at all possible (even if it meant some road losses at Loyola Marymount and Portland in games that normally an A-10 team wouldn’t play). Vanderbilt playing at Duquesne a few years ago did as much, and packed Palumbo with quite a few stands and made the game in Palumbo a virtual neutral-site game. With the Dukes having four players on their roster from Ontario, it’s a great way to return home for Wumi, Odi, Jose, and Brianna.
The RPI. Last year, if you played Notre Dame on a neutral site and lost every game you would have finished in the top 20 in the RPI. Even with a loss, it’s a way to improve the computer numbers. The selection committee normally does a decent job at eliminating these games from the RPI and looking more who you beat and who you lost to, but it’s still noteworthy nonetheless as I don’t recall a top 30 RPI team missing the NCAA Tournament. The women’s selection committee has also gone away from the RPI more and more recently
and hopefully will this year when looking at the AAC with UConn and Louisville inflating the RPIs of the rest of the conference.
It gives Dukes a chance to see one of the best teams in the country. Even if you don’t win, oftentimes the learning experience from it is beneficial. The Dukes figure to be vastly outmatched at every position except possibly the four.
The Dukes will play in front of a big crowd, as the game is sold out in the former Maple Leaf Gardens. While the arena has been made a lot smaller, it still seats 2,796 for hockey games.
It’s about as close as you can get to a loss without playing the game, and a potential blowout loss. There’s nothing exciting about that for me, much the way the Duquesne Dukes men’s team got blown out at Duke on the men’s side a few years back when many were excited the men’s team was playing the Blue Devils. The Appalachian State over Michigan or Georgia Southern over Florida victories don’t come around often, and even less so in women’s basketball than most other sports.
It gives the Dukes a chance to see one of the best teams in the country. I still believe that playing Delaware and Elena Delle Donne in the neutral tournament game hurt Wumi Agunbiade’s confidence to where she was tentative in the next loss to Miami (Oh). While a game against better competition can sometimes help a player learn and improve, it can also hurt confidence.
With the Notre Dame game being a neutral site game rather than a sell game, the Dukes would miss out on the paycheck they got when they played at Ohio State a couple of years ago. That paycheck paid for the Dukes tourney in Florida the next year.
Here’s the big con for me: it takes away a chance at a quality win. Personally, I’d almost rather have the game against a team like James Madison back on the schedule. This year, JMU is expected to be a top 50 team, and a win would go a large way in getting a big win for Selection Sunday while a loss would only hurt minimally. With there being only 13 out-of-conference games available, I hate playing a game where the Dukes have little to no chance to win when the Dukes could have scheduled a possible top 50 or top 75 team and had a shot at a needed win come March.
Comments or thoughts? Did I miss anything? Please write below or on our message board. Thanks!