CLEVELAND (March 10)(AP) -- Mickey Hosier wasn't being disrespectful. But the Ball
State point guard may have best summed up the Mid-American
Conference's first ever tournament at Gund Arena.
``It's better than it being in Toledo,'' he said.
The MAC played its conference tourney in Cleveland for the first time
this year, hoping to showcase its competitive league on a bigger stage.
And, oh what a show the MAC put on.
The seven games were decided by a total of 18 points. On Sunday, the
four quarterfinals were decided by a total of six points and two went to
overtime. And of the seven games, just one didn't go down to the final
It was the kind of event the MAC was hoping for when it moved its
league offices from Toledo to Cleveland last summer. And it's why the
signed a three-year deal with Gund Arena to host the tournament.
``From a marketing standpoint we couldn't have asked for anything
better than what happened on Sunday,'' said MAC commissioner Rick
``We know we'll do some things differently after year one, but I know
our players and coaches came away with a very positive feeling about how
Chryst said the league is in negotiations with Gund Arena to make a MAC
team an annual participant in the Rock and Roll Shootout at Gund.
Green played in it last year.
Chryst, who served as an assistant commissioner in the Atlantic Coast
Conference for seven years before joining the MAC, said he's pleased
strides the league has made in getting more national exposure.
He knows the MAC can find its own niche in Big Ten country.
``We're making some progress on the TV side,'' he said.
And games like Sunday's quarterfinal thrillers can only help.
Miami of Ohio coach Charlie Coles has been around basketball for most
of his 58 years. But he had never experienced anything like what
during Sunday's quarters.
``Tell me there has ever been a better day of basketball,'' said Coles,
whose ninth-seeded RedHawks got the day started by shocking No. 1 seed
Bowling Green. ``That was the best basketball I have ever seen. At one
point during the day, I forgot what I was here for.
``I became a fan. I remember turning to someone in back of me during
one of the games and saying, 'Is this great basketball or what?'''
More than 28,000 fans who attended the three-day tournament seemed to
think so. And despite the early elimination of Akron and Kent, the two
nearest MAC schools, Wednesday night's final between Miami and Ball
State drew 7,204 _ a title game record.
Players and coaches also enjoyed their time in Cleveland, the MAC's
home since last July. Unseasonably warm weather gave out-of-town fans a
chance to take in some of the city's sights and the teams got a chance
to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
``I loved it,'' said Ball State's Duane Clemens, the tournament MVP.
``I just wanted to get out of Muncie (Ind.) for a while. The only thing
I didn't like
was that the hotel didn't have enough cable channels.''
Cable TV, more specifically ESPN, played a part in Ball State earning
its seventh MAC tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAAs with
61-58 win over Miami.
Cardinals coach Ray McCallum said his players were watching one of
ESPN's college basketball studio shows when the subject of the MAC and
many NCAA tourney invitations it deserved came up.
``They said something like, 'Ball State doesn't deserve to get in if it
doesn't win the championship,''' McCallum said. ``And I told our guys,
guys don't get any respect.' It just really helped.''