Playoff hoop changes coming?

CIF may do away with power ratings for basketball playoff seeding
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Service
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Placer High boys basketball coach Mark Lee is taking a wait and see attitude on early rumblings that the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section is ready to submit a proposal to its basketball committee that would do away with the basketball power ratings and make league finish the sole way to qualify for the playoffs.

Bear River boys coach Duwaine Ganskie, meanwhile, isn’t too keen on the possibility of a new format while Colfax boys coach  Mike O’Connell is taking an early open-minded stance.

Currently, and since 1987, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section has used power ratings to determine eligibility and provide seeding guidelines for basketball postseason play.

But the section is about to discuss a proposal that would simplify the process by granting playoff berths to the top three teams in each league, with a fourth bid available to power leagues.

"Taking the top three will make things a lot easier,” said CIF assistant commissioner John Williams last week. "We'd still use information from non-league games and then the seeding committee will seed the teams.”

Williams noted that one of the problems with power ratings is that league reps don't always turn their information in on time.

“You can’t believe the headaches we have trying to track down teams and leagues for records,” said Williams. “It’s become a lot tougher than people realize.”

 Williams noted that this year in the Tri-City League, the first place team, St. Mary’s (20-8, 10-0), and the fourth place team, West of Tracy (5-5, 18-10), qualified for the playoffs but the league’s second place team, Tokay (6-4, 14-13) and third place team, Edison (6-4, 12-15) did not.

“That got people’s attention,” said Williams. “Also, the moving of teams up or down spots for seeding hasn’t always been well-received.”

In a new format that will be looked at, the top three finishing teams in each league would qualify for the playoffs. However, a power league, or a league which has attained a high league rating based on non-league performance, would earn a fourth berth.

Williams noted that this past season, because of its high league rating, the Pioneer Valley League would have qualified four boys teams to the postseason. According to Williams, if the plan had been in effect this season, 11 boys teams that qualified for the playoffs would not have and nine that didn’t, would have.

One current criteria that would go by the wayside if the new format takes hold would be teams with at least 15 wins making the playoffs.

“It sounds interesting but I’d like to take a look at the whole proposal when it comes out and analyze it,” said Lee. “I know in the old days each league got two teams and then leagues would argue over which league was tougher for the seeding.”

Ganskie, whose Bruins, missed the playoffs by one game this season, sees that for his Bear River squad year-in and year-out, it would be an uphill battle.

“We’re a Div. IV team playing in a Div. III league,” said Ganskie. “I know we didn’t make the playoffs this season and that falls on us, but we beat four or five teams that were in the Div. IV tournament this season.”

O’Connell noted that a new proposal puts more pressure on a team to be competitive.

“No doubt we play in a tough league,” said O’Connell. “But I think in this case that could work to your advantage. It’ll be interesting to see how it shapes up.”

Williams noted that while a new format is still in the early stages, it’s too soon to know if it will be met with open arms.

“This is a big change if it is accepted, “ said Williams. “Nothing may come of this. There are a lot of people that are fine with the power ratings as they are right now. We’ll see how it goes.”