Remember Rick Majerus â€” the portly fellow who made a name for himself first for coaching Utah to a bunch of NCAA appearances and then later for talking about “oh-fense” on ESPN? Well, apparently he’s coaching again, and not exactly doing wonders for his Saint Louis team’s confidence as they went into their first-round matchup with Xavier in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Seems that Rick thinks all these conference tournaments are stupid (something a lot of fans â€” and especially ESPN â€” might disagree with). But Majerus didn’t stop there. No, he basically acknowledged that his team didn’t have any chance of winning the tournament, and said it would be “phony” if it did. Way to pump up your guys, coach.
Fortunately, the Billikens lived up to their coach’s expectations.
Xavier pounded Saint Louis 66-47 today in Atlantic City in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament. It was a three-point game late in the first half, but Xavier went on a big run and put it away early in the second half.
Majerus told the PHILLY INQUIRER’s Phil Sheridan that he’s never liked conference tournaments because they “detract from the academic effort.” Although his real motivation seems to be the inconvenience of it all for him. I mean, who would actually want for their kids to get a chance to go to Atlantic City and play basketball? Not Majerus, who said this yesterday:
“I tell you what would be a real shame,” Majerus said, “if we were to beat Xavier, and for Xavier not to go to the tournament. They’re probably going anyway. They should go anyway. . . . I really believe that the regular season is everything. We could win this, put on a hat and shirt - we aren’t going to win this - and say, ‘Oh, we’re the champs.’ What a phony thing that would be. We were the champs of that four-game tournament.”
Gee, I wonder why the Billikens came out uninspired today? Nothing like having your coach be a dream killer.
“Hey guys, first of all, we’re not going to win this tournament. Just forget about that. And secondly, if we did, it would just be a big sham anyway. I’d probably not even go to the NCAA tournament if we did.”
I understand some of what Majerus is saying. Yes, it’s a bit artificial that one team could catch fire and earn a tournament bid when their play throughout the season didn’t warrant it. But, at the same time, conference tournaments give those teams that hit a rough patch somewhere along the way an opportunity to atone for it by making a deep run or even winning it. And what’s so wrong with that?