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Preseason just about over, now the fun begins

League champions not that relevant for playoffs
by: Self-portrait Sports Editor John Brewington

The basketball preseason (non-league) games have ended for St. and #8200;Helens and will soon end for Scapppoose. It's down to league play.

League play doesn't have quite the significance it had just a couple of years ago. It's certainly not irrelevant, but it's less critical than it once was.

It used to be that winning the league championship might get you a bye in the first round, or at least a very good seed. You'd get home court advantage.

Now you get the title which is not a bad thing, but which team you play and where it will be depends on the RPI--the OSAA's rankings system.

Finishing in or near the bottom of your league can still get your team eliminated or maybe not if you are in the 5A ranks.

The 5A classification for both boys and girls goes to a type of regional play (North and South) with 16 teams in each division. Theoretically that would mean five teams eliminated for each division. Still 32 teams make what's called a 'play-in' round and the winners advance to the state playoffs. Opponents are determined by where each team is ranked. The No. 1-ranked team will play the bottom ranked team (in their division) and so on. The higher ranked team gets the home game.

This also holds true after the play-in round. It's again seeded by ranking and the top ranked team in each case gets a home game. This holds true right into the final eight at the University of Oregon.

It's a little different for the 4A. They do eliminate teams based on their finish in league, and it varies year to year. Word is that they will change to a regional division next season. The 4A teams play their final eight at Oregon and #8200;State this year.

A number of coaches and athletic directors tried this past season to get at least league champions guaranteed a home game in the first round of state, but it didn't pass. There are cases where it has seemed incredibly unfair. There is some suggestion of doing away with the play-in round altogether and good arguments both ways.

Cost of attending play-ins is becoming a big factor for some teams. The OSAA doesn't reimburse teams any of their play-in costs. It appears that gate receipts go soley to the home team. and #8200;A good deal for them, but not so good if you have to travel across the state to play a team almost certain to beat you.

The system needs some more tweaking, and I don't like all the ramifications of it. However, the concept is not bad and may be unique nationwide. It still needs some changes, though.