By ROBERT AVERY
After seven seasons of growing, growing and more growing, it looks like the McDonald’s Texas Invitational high school basketball tournament may have found its saturation point in terms of teams.
The tournament bumped up the number of girls’ teams from 32 to 36 for last month’s eighth rendition of the very popular high school basketball event while introducing a pool-play format.
But that increase in teams, giving the tournament a record-setting 84 clubs when one factors in the 48 boys’ teams, apparently produced some hidden headaches in regards to scheduling.
So in the steering committee’s first meeting since the event, tournament chairman Ben Meador announced on Thursday that the 2011 tournament will be returning to a 32-team girls field.
“It really created a scheduling problem for us. As it unfolded, we didn’t ever anticipate that. Big is not always best. There’s an optimum number. In talking to Bob (Ellis) we really think it’s best we go back to 32. I don’t think that will be a problem because some of the teams like A&M Consolidated may not want to come back. It’s an invitational. We pick and choose who we want each year. We’re looking for the best 32 teams around here,” Meador said.
In the tournament program, all of the girls’ brackets (Gold, Silver and Bronze) didn’t list a time or location. That was determined after Thursday’s pool play. But computer problems that night led to a late, late evening before locations and times could be finalized and posted on the tourney’s website.
Of the surveys returned so far, that apparently was one of the few complaints lodged in the way the tournament was run. The coaches from Irving MacArthur, Tomball, Galena Park and College Park for example all cited the slow response to listing the starting times and locations on the tournament’s website.
But apparently it didn’t bother every girls coach. The San Antonio Madison coach wants to see the number of girls teams increased.
But those opposed apparently raised enough concern to warrant a re-evaluation of how the
girls’ side should be run.
In comparison, when the 2009 tournament featured a straight bracket format for the girls’ teams, the program listed a starting time and location. It had taken the guesswork out of the equation for the coaches and there was no need to wait up past midnight before learning where they were headed in just a matter of hours.
But outside of that, the surveys mirror a tournament that has the greatest respect among coaches near and far. When one question on the survey asked, “How would you rate the tournament overall?” 24 responses came back excellent and three were listed as good. When asked if the team would like to receive an invitation to make a repeat appearance, all 27 surveys came back with the answer of YES.