Men’s basketball poised for huge jump in new conference
Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
A new era is coming to SMU Athletics beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year with SMU's departure from Conference USA to the Big East conference.
A lot of attention has been given to the football team because of this move, but one of the other main beneficiaries is the men's basketball program.
New streams of revenue, better competition and a bigger spotlight are going to be coming into the program along with the pressure of playing on national television numerous times a year.
"We're excited," Head Basketball Coach Matt Doherty said. "When you get to play a Georgetown, a Villanova, a Louisville night after night it is exciting."
After a recent win to snap the Mustangs losing streak, Coach Doherty made it clear that the student-athlete experience will be better.
The move to the Big East will mean fewer classes will be missed and more amenities will be provided that will help the team during the long grind of the season.
"Having chartered flights and a better training table on the road will slow down fatigue on the team and ultimately will mean a better student-athlete experience," Doherty said.
Moody Coliseum will be undergoing $40 million in renovations soon and the home court advantage it will provide will be a recruiting tool for the Mustangs.
Moody was opened in 1956 and according to Coach Doherty, the design is comparable to Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke because of its very steep angle of the seats.
The angle makes it seem like the fans are right on top of the court.
Coach Doherty made it clear when SMU was deciding how to improve SMU's facilities that he did not want Moody torn down because due to today's building code, the angle of the seats could not be that steep. So plans were made to improve the concourses, meeting areas, premium seating and install new audio and video systems throughout the coliseum.
Students have traditionally come out to the bigger games on the schedule, but not in the numbers that you would see at a traditional Big East school.
Games with nationally recognized names in college basketball are expected to bring out a large majority of the student body.
"That's when you get kids excited and painting up and acting stupid at games," said Coach Doherty about student participation.
Freshman Joe Baker had this to say about the move and student support.
"Student support will grow based on the fact that we will be in a bigger, more popular conference," he said.
Baker continued, "I feel student attendance will at least double at home games."
Sophomore SMU cheerleader Courtney Schellin talked about not only supporting the basketball team, but also that overall student support changed for the better with the move to the Big East.
"I would like to see more people come out to games," Schellin said. "We could always use some more student fan support in all our sports."
When the move to the Big East happens and the 2013-2014 basketball season begins for the SMU Mustangs, they will have an experienced roster to take them into their first year of conference play.
Coach Doherty is optimistic about the first few years of conference play because of that.
"They had 11 teams make the NCAA tournament so if you tell me we have to be in the top 11 in conference to get in then I feel pretty good about our chances," he said.
"I feel that our basketball team will get dominated in the Big East solely based on scores, however we will be right up there in heart and determination," Baker said.
How well the Mustangs compete year in and year out in the conference will be determined by how well SMU can recruit.
The Mustangs will need to add quality players to their roster in order to keep up with the big boys of the new conference.
With the resources available and enthusiasm for the team, SMU's student body, staff and administrators will expect them to compete and win basketball games in their new conference.