Arrow-right Camera

Color Scheme

Subscribe now
Gonzaga Women's Basketball

‘It’s a home game for them’: Texas coach Vic Schaefer laments regional format, playing Gonzaga in Portland

By Greg Lee The Spokesman-Review

PORTLAND – Don’t count Texas women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer as a fan of the new NCAA Tournament regional format that was implemented last year.

It consists of two regional sites – one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast.

Schaefer doesn’t believe his No. 1-seeded Longhorns should be playing in Portland this weekend. He’s disappointed that the NCAA abandoned the four geographical regionals to clump them into two sites.

He said that Texas should be playing in a regional in the Midwest, not the Rose City.

“Shock me and put something in the Midwest where everybody comes to the middle instead of everybody going left and everybody going right (Albany, New York),” Schaefer told Texas media during a news conference Tuesday.

And one other thing – he thinks the Longhorns’ matchup against fourth-seeded Gonzaga is a home game for the Zags.

Top-seeded Texas (32-4) faces Gonzaga (32-3) Friday at the Moda Center in downtown Portland at 7 p.m.

“It’s the exact same scenario (as in 2010),” he said. “We had to go out there and play the exact same team (Gonzaga). It’s a home game for them.”

He was an assistant coach at Texas A&M in 2009-10 when the Aggies faced Courtney Vandersloot-led Gonzaga at the Arena. The Zags won 72-71.

“It seems to be my luck. All my (No.) 1 seeds have to go play somebody else on their home floor,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer noted Friday during a news conference that Spokane and Portland are 350 miles apart.

“It took us 4 hours and 48 minutes to get here yesterday,” Schaefer, 63, said. “That’s wheels up to wheels down. I’m pretty sure it took them under an hour. Their fans are able to travel 300 and something miles a lot easier than mine can the 2,000 and something miles. Again, I’ve got experience being in this game against that team. I’m not disappointed at all to be the (No.) 1 (seed). I wouldn’t care if we were in Timbuktu or anywhere else.”

He questions the value of a top seed.

“It kind of defeats the purpose, to be quite honest,” Schaefer said. “This team has been great all year of being on the road. We just did it in the Big 12 Tournament. Played three back-to-back-to-back on the road with Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State (in Kansas City, Missouri). Our kids will be unflappable. They like playing the villain and I do, too.”

Reportedly the new regional format will continue for three more years and then be re-evaluated. Spokane will be a host site again in 2025.

“We’ve got to be who we are and realize we’ve been through this now,” he said. “It seems that that’s the approach we’re trying to take, to be on a neutral floor for the teams that need to be rewarded. … At the end of the day, I’ll take my team anywhere. We’ll go play anybody, anywhere. But I do think it needs to be evaluated. Punishing teams that are supposed to be rewarded …. This is where our game is right now.”

Schaefer wants to go back to four geographically located regionals.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m used to going to four sites, having them strategically placed across the country,” he said. “Been in a Midwest Regional in Oklahoma City and Dallas – places a little more easy to reach for my fan base. I think our game has grown to the point that I think we can survive going back to the four regional sites.”

Schaefer likes an idea proposed by ESPN college basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli.

“She wants all (Sweet) 16 teams in Vegas. Probably not a bad idea,” he said. “When you’re supposed to be rewarding teams for certain things throughout the course of a season, I think you need to do that. I just think there’s a little bit of a flaw there.”

Texas isn’t making the longest trip to Portland. Joining the Longhorns and Gonzaga are UConn, North Carolina State, Baylor, Duke, Stanford and USC.

Last year, a regional was held at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. Ole Miss, which beat Gonzaga 71-48 in a first-round game, was there with Louisville, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia Tech, Ohio State, North Carolina and Tennessee. UCLA was sent to the other regional in Greenville, South Carolina.