Reaction to CIF basketball brackets

Today was, by a mile, the craziest I’ve ever experienced in terms of the release of the NorCal brackets. Truth to told, this day is normally anti-climatic. We normally only type up the brackets and don’t even write a story, because everything usually goes pretty much according to plan. But we knew today was going to be different because of the Open Division.

UPDATE: The CIF has officially added Campo to the field in Div. III, replacing Miramonte.

Of course, there was no knowing how crazy today would turn out as a result of the situation with Campolindo. I must say I feel for North Coast Section commissioner Gil Lemmon. He works very hard and also aims to do his best. I know this day has not been easy for him. After the brackets came out, I sent him an e-mail asking about Campolindo’s absense and then called him a short time later. It was while I was on the phone with him that the realization came through that a major error had been made. As he was going through his notes, it hit him that “This may be a colossal blunder on my part.”

Correcting the error, as it appears will happen, still isn’t easy. It likely involves removing Miramonte from the tournament. That’s not something the Matadors are taking too well and you can’t blame them.

Miramonte BasketballMiramonte Basketball ‏@MatsHoops

@Jimmy_Durkin @CIFState we should play Campo for the last spot in CIF state. Miramonte won the last match up between the two schools.

Miramonte BasketballMiramonte Basketball ‏@MatsHoops

@Jimmy_Durkin @CIFState Give us the time and the place, we’ll show up, the real question is: will they?

Miramonte’s suggestion is intriguing, but probably unlikely. Outbracket games (which there are none of this year), were slated for Monday. Arranging a game for Monday, when an official decision on this won’t likely come until sometime Monday, seems impossible. Could they play Tuesday? Maybe. But I’m not sure CIF would allow that. The indications are that Campo will simply replace Miramonte. Tough break for the Mats undoubtedly, but they also were never supposed to be included in the tournament anyway.

But enough about that for now. Let’s talk Open Division.

Overall, no real complaints from me about how the boys went down. My gut told me I thought De La Salle would end up there, but I’m not surprised it didn’t. It would seem strange to send a team that didn’t even reach the finals to the Open Division, although their resume over the years certainly puts them in that class.

I’m a little surprised Serra ended up there, especially because it means that Division II lost three teams. That’s obviously great for Dublin, which is now the No. 1 seed and favorite to reach the state title game. Wouldn’t that be something for a program that’s never even won a NorCal game before?

The top four seeds went as I predicted: Salesian, Mitty, O’Dowd and Sheldon, so no surprises. I get why Serra was seeded that high once the decision was made to put them in. Overall, no real complaints with the boys Open.

But on to the girls. I don’t cover much girls basketball, so I won’t claim to be an expert. But this post from Cal-Hi Sports pretty well sums it up. The NorCal Open Division completely depleted the rest of its divisions. There are now no defending state champions in any other divisions and it’s probably going to set up for the North to get destroyed by the South. For Brookside Christian to be subjected to a rematch with O’Dowd, which already beat them by over 30, is ridiculous. To take Miramonte out of D-III, where it was a state title contender, is ridiculous. None of those Open teams are going to be a real threat to O’Dowd anyway, so why not leave a couple in their respective divisions. Plus, why is Miramonte seeded below a Mitty team it beat? Shaking my head there.

Overall, seven East Bay teams are top seeds. For the boys, it’s Salesian (Open), Deer Valley (Div. I), Dublin (Div. II) and St. Joseph Notre Dame (Div. V). For the girls, it’s O’Dowd (Open), Monte Vista (Div. I) and Salesian (Div. IV).

For a full look at the brackets, please visit the CIF web site. 


Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.

  • Eastbayfan

    Looks like NorCal has shoot themselves in the foot in girls open by having all the good teams beating each other up, st Mary’s wins NCS but Salesian coming in 2nd will get to the stae title and st Mary’s won’t even get to NorCal finals, the thanks you get for winning

  • Prep Fan

    Jimmy, can I take credit for catching the Miramonte/Campo blunder since I posted the question on here as soon as I saw the brackets? 8)
    As far as Mitty girls being seeded higher than Miramonte, I think it had more to do with keeping NCS teams from playing each other in round 1. If Miramonte were put anywhere but #7, they would have faced another NCS team. Better to adjust the 6 & 7 seeds than mess with the top 5. Although a Carondelet-Miramonte matchup would have been great. Mitty & Carondelet have played some classic games over the past few seasons and this could be another one in round 1 of the Open.

  • You can if you want. I also caught it immediately. It was included in my tweet about who El Cerrito would play. Truth be told, it wasn’t until I e-mailed him and then called him that Gil Lemmon realized it, so that’s when the ball got rolling on this whole situation.

  • Prep Fan

    Amazing that we could see it right away, while the guy whose job it is reached out and selected the #5 seed rather than the #2 seed. Seems like every year in some NCS sport teams are prematurely posted and then they have to go in and remove them, and now it happens for NorCal.

  • MVALfan2

    I don’t think Newark is very happy with having to go open! That sucks for him!! But maybe they can beat Mitty!!

  • Gdog

    Too much confusion with the vague criteria. Look at the South, Bishop Montgomery has 1 loss and they are ranked in the top 25 in the country but becasue they were not prior “eligible” and did not opt up they are still playing in the DIV bracket???

    They need to further refine the criteria but this is the first year and I am sure they will. Should be only section champs available to select from, that still gives you 17-18 teams to choose from. Limit to elite teams I mean 4-5 teams are legit in this grouping. Newark, Serra and Modesto Christian are very good teams but not elite. If you are just talking best 8 then they are there so either just make it the top 8 from the section champs or top 8 period. Clarification is much needed at this point, IMO.

  • The first year was sure to include confusion, since they’ve never done it before. I think some refining needs to happen and will happen.

    One suggestion I’ve seen — and might tend to agree with — is that for certain sections, the winner automatically goes to the Open Division. For example, the NCS Division I winner is automatically in. I think all of us around here can agree that whoever survives and wins NCS Div. I is most likely one of the top 8 teams in NorCal. Same could probably be said for SJS Div. I. That would’ve placed a team like Deer Valley, which is clearly a top 8 NorCal team but didn’t meet the criteria, in the field.

  • Junior

    Newark can beat Mitty. They are long enough and play excellent defense. There are multiple players they can rotate on Gordon. Ashmore will have them ready.

  • Equinox271

    JImmy, I agree. I think they should look at the a team even if it hasn’t met the criteria. Suppose a team is having a banner year and has beaten 1 or 2 top 10 state ranked teams over the course of the season. Would you like to see a “Special Circumstances” that would allow a team that is playing better that some of the teams that met the Open Division criteria. Just so that the best teams would be playing, Just a thought.. as we know it can happen.

  • hoops

    THE SOLUTION IS…The problem is thinking the people at NCS and Cif actually know what they are doing.The open system is ridiculous the way it is set.What difference does it make how good you were the last 2 or 3 years?The criteria should be based on this year since we are not playing in a time warp.Here is the solution.The selection committee can only force a team into the open if they win their section.There should be nothing based on past years performance that eliminates a team from playing in the open.If a very good team loses their section final,say Miramonte girls this year,they can be asked but not forced.A team like Deer Valley would be in the open as they should be.This of course is too simple and makes too much sense for the NCS/CIF people to apply.

  • Oh Boy

    Ultimately, this whole thing is about #1 making more money and #2 stopping private school domination. I don’t think it will accomplish EITHER so it will have to change.

    I see no reason for people to pay to travel to watch blowouts and most of the teams that will be blown out are the publics.

  • Equinox271

    @ Hoop Says, Thanks,, I agree with you.

  • hoops

    To add on to my earlier post….Do you know how frustating it is for a team that has been soundly beaten in their section final,to be forced to play in the open against that same team again,as well as the other section winners?They have to forfeit any chance to win a state title against their will.I do not have any love for Miramonte high schooland all the crazy parents in Orinda but I do feel for their team.

  • Jen R

    Although i feel bad for the players involved, Miramonte has recruited a bunch of girls this year and have lied to get them into the school district. many of their new players don’t live in Miramonte’s school boundaries. I have first hand knowledge as my daughter is on the team and is teammates with those who are getting away with living in places like San Ramon, Pittsburg, and Hercules. The coach should be held accountable, not the girls…so sad

  • mckbooth

    There are no teams in the North that don’t get beat by thirty if O’dowd girls leave there core 8 players on the court. So anyone going into the open this year is not going to have fun. Just no way to prevent that.

    The south has more teams so there 7,8,9,10 etc teams are going to be a little stronger. I do think that if O’dowd gets Winward again or Mater Dai(if they make it) the match up is worth having an open division.

    I think it would have been a good match last year Mater Dai and O’dowd and O’dowd beating the southern rep by 40 really says a lot about the old system.

  • Miramonte parent

    @Hoops, I have lived in Orinda for many years. Yes, I know a few “crazy parents” however I know many more kind, generous, parents whom I am proud to know. Please don’t stero-typebased on a few bad apples. As far as feeling sorry for the team, know that half of the Miramonte girls team lives outside of Orinda anyway!

  • hoops

    Mckbooth….Yes it works out great for O’Dowd girls but the problem is all the teams and all of the players and coaches of the teams that have no business being in the open.The whole concept as it is now is totally unfair because it only benefits the exceptional teams like O’Dowd girls and Salesian boys.Year to year the number of exceptional teams will flucuate so how can you ever have a fair process?Do you think O’Dowd boys want to be in the open?They are a good but not exceptional team that would have a chance in D3 but zero chance in the open.The problem is the numbers.It works great for football because you do not have to pick 8 different teams.Are you going to have an open with 3 ,4 or 5 teams?Maybe just pick the top 4.That would eliminate alot of the unfairness.They would make some money too.Set it up like the final four in one arena,2 nights.

  • hoops

    The more I think about it I think 4 teams is the answer.It sets up a great final 4 scenario.The second night you can play the girls final and the guys together so you still have 2 games.It also eliminates too many complaints because if a team thought they should be in the open and did not get chosen they still play in their regular nor cal tourney with the chance at a state title.You will take the teams like Salesian boys and O’Dowd girls out of the lower divisions that they would overwhelm and you would almost eliminate the unfair situations that exist with 8 teams.

  • @Hoops#1
    I DEFINETLY agree with you about CIF: it’s nearly all a pro quid quo club where they might (or might not) know something about COMPETITIVE high school sports (Actually, the upper echelon of public school administration in Calif. is known for its backscratching too. Ever hear of ACSA? They even have a guy on the CIF board!).
    I think the whole state playoff system would work better (in all sports) if the Central Section was part of the North. Although the North and South regions would still be unbalanced in favor of the South, the North Regionals in both football and basketball would be a little more competitive.
    I also agree that selecting teams for an Open Division should not be based on previous years. Nor should any team, especially in the smaller divisions, be forced into the Open Division (I’ve read blog comments from the Southland accusing some teams of “sandbagging” in games in order to stay out of the Open!).
    A more fair way would be for all the section D1 champs to automatically be in the Open. After that, a team would have to declare before the section playoffs whether it wants to be elgible for the Open or its regular division. Probably be a lot of empty Open brackets (especially in the North), but the CIF executives’ and commisioners’ 6 figure salaries (along with 6 figure retirement income for many of them) ought to be able to instill some creativity on their part.

  • hoops

    Schoolmarm….The problem with your D1 suggestion is that the D1 teams are not always the strongest so why should they get an automatic.Look at Deer Valley the NCS champion this year.They lost to O’Dowd and they are not as good as Salesian.It seems logical to me that if you cut the open teams to 4 you eliminate a lot of problems and unhappiness.The team every now and then upset they did not get selected still gets to play in their regular division.
    The other negative about the open is that by taken 8 teams out of the regular tourney you leave a terribly diluted tournament with undeserving teams playing above their pay grade.You can easily decimate a single division by taking 3,4 maybe 5 teams from a single division and you are left with mediocrity,especially in the North.
    Final Four is the answer.I am convinced and hope that J.Durkin responds with his opinion.

  • Gdog

    How about a hybrid system very similar to what the CCS does? They have their own open division playoff. So you add the Central Section to the North. Now each section has an Open Division playoff. Each team (8) that is selected to the Sectional Open Division is automatically qualified for NorCal in their enrollment division. You play them off and the winner of each Sections’ Open Division is the entrant into the NorCal Open playoff. So this season you would have had say Salesian, Mitty, Sheldon and Bullard. You could look at the OAL and give them the option to opt in if they want to. Most seasons they are not worthy but the Mack teams from a few years ago would have been #1 seeds for example. All the other teams would then simply be placed in their division for NorCal. So if the NCS open field was say DLS, Deer Valley and SanLeandro from DI there would only be one slot available (the section DI winner) to qualify for NorCal. If BOD was the only DIII entrant than 3 slots would come from the DIII Sectional Playoff. That would still make 4 DI & DIII NCS teams that qualify for NorCal, same as current. If one of the DI teams won the Open then the two finalist would be eligible (the same system we had 3 years ago). What do you think?

  • I’m mixed on the idea of a Final Four as the Open Division, only because it cuts down how many games there are. What that would mean is that for teams that go to state is they play only one game a week for those three weeks. Basketball teams tend to like to play more often than that to stay in a rhythm.

  • hoops

    Jimmy…That is another problem.The playoffs are too long.An 8 team field should be played in a week the way it use to be played.Nor Cal use to be tues- thur -sat.That would make the open the same as Nor Cal except eliminate the third game.If there was a final 4 this year and say Salesian won it they would play the same NCS games as they did this year and play one less game in Nor Cal.It would also shorten the playoffs by a week and help the 2 sport athletes.Teams hate practicing this time of year and it just goes on forever.

  • hoops

    Gdog…Your idea has merit but it in my opinion is too complicated.The final 4 is simple,fair and it allows for the best teams to be playing for state championships.You will have the 2 best in the open playing one another and by NOT taking 8 teams into the open,only 4,you have 4 more good and deserving teams playing in the regular playoffs instead of teams that should be eliminated.Lets be real….it is rare that there are ever more that 2,3 or 4 elite teams in a given year.The open with 4 teams just makes more sense for everyone.It takes the elite like Salesian boys and O’D girls and puts them where they belong and does not penalize a team like New Mem boys.It definitely simplifies things and creates less problems ,more fairness and a better regular division tourney less diluted.

  • I would definitely support shortening the playoffs/season. I remember those one-week NorCal playoffs. They were a grind for teams though. Three tough games in one week. Still, the season does extend a little long. I don’t like it this year in particular because I’m not going to be able to attend the Open Division state title game. The San Jose State spring football game is that day and since that’s my primary beat, that takes priority.

  • @Gdog #21
    Great idea!
    But now to get all the sections to go along with each having an Open Division. The sections have complete autonomy in setting up playoff divisions.

  • hoops

    Trust me when I say the players would rather play tue-thur-sat then practice for 2 weeks in March.NCS use to be played in a week also.Back in the day there were only 3 divisions with 8 teams in each.Div 1 was pretty much a combo of D1 and D2 and maybe a little D3 and Div 2 was a combo of D3 and D4.It was really tough to get into NCS without being a league champion…. few at large berths.Anyway….Final Four! That idea is already deeply embedded in our culture and I believe would be very popular.It will never happen because it is simple and makes sense which is the antithesis of the CIF.

  • Always have to remember that more games equals more money. In today’s world, that’s really as simple as it gets. So far as much as we’d like to scale down the games and team in the playoffs, it’ll never happen. The vast majority of the revenue that the CIF and NCS receives comes from the playoff games, so it’s going to maximize that revenue by any means possible.

  • hoops

    I am afraid you are correct.The CIF administration and their salaries are always going to take precedence over what is best for the student athletes.I never thought of it before but adding the open adds games and money for them because they still have the same amount of games in the 5 divisions.Oh well,it is a shame that very good teams and coaches play the season knowing that by doing well they will be penalized and have no chance to win a state title.O’D is a great example.The girls are the reason to have an open.A D3 team with the best talent in the bay area by far,arguably the best girls team ever in the east bay.The boys are the argument against it.A very good team with a chance to win a D3 title and ZERO chance to win the open title.So in effect they are denied the dream of winning a state title because they had a good year and are forced into the open.In reality they are taken from being a very good top 5 D3 team and forced to be THE BEST team in the entire state.Does anyone see how unfair that is to the players and coaches who have worked so hard?On the other side you may have a division where the 4 best teams are put into the open and the fifth best team is the Nor Cal champion.Most coaches I have known would consider that very hollow.That is like beating Miami but Lebron and Wade did not play.

  • What would be best would be going back to the days of the 80s and 90s when we essentially had an Open Division simply because teams were allow to opt up into a higher division. When St. Joe’s had Jason Kidd and was the best team in the state, it didn’t care that it was a Division IV school (at that time). The Pilots played in Division I. Same with O’Dowd. That was what all the powerhouses (and primarily all the privates) did. That was probably the best set up we’ve had. The pressure was on coaches for those teams to play at the highest level and they all had a sense of pride to do it, but at least you didn’t have teams forced to play up.

  • NCS Politics

    Taking the teams and placing them in the open AFTER ncs playoffs is truly absurd. Salesian beat Gateway by 35, Moreau by 33, Arcata by 22, and Newman by 31. We all new that they would be selected to the open so this baton march and blasted through the D4 bracket was unnecessary, especially knowing win or lose they were Open bound.

    This changes things drastically for teams that had to face them. If Salesian is not in this bracket Newman is NCS Champs, Arcata probably plays them in finals, and Moreau is in NorCals. Personally I think the NCS should have a open division in their section playoffs and everyone “forced” into this open would automatically qualify for NorCals. With this set up, Salesian and O’dowd would have already played, along with DLS and DV, Newark and the like…..

    Then you put the winner and the runner up from the Open NCS into the CIF Open, you ask the winner from D-1 NCS is they want a spot and then hold another for any lower division team that is good that year and wants to petition up.

    This would answer all issues that Jimmy, Hoops, and Schoolman have posed and still give you added games that create revenue.

  • hoops

    NCS Politics….Not bad but pretty complicated.Actually the best system is the old one which Jimmy referred to.Teams use to be able to move up to a higher division and the Catholic school powers did.That created an open division without trying to.The only negative to the system was coaches would move from 3 to 2 or 4 to 3 or wherever they thought they had the best chance to win.A team could be d3 then d2 then d1.So to eliminate that simply give teams the right to move to D1 only which solves a lot of problems.This year Salesian would be D1 and probably the other boys teams would have stayed put…maybe Mitty would move up.O’D girls would be D1.I do not remember why they changed the system because it was that way for a long time.

  • mckbooth

    Okay let’s get this straight? The o”dowd boys have no chance of winning the open division? I’d want to see that game played. Salisian is good , but not unbeatable. Sometimes a stud is just a stud and there is nothing you can do about it. So I wouldn’t count them out of the open just yet.
    4 teams in the open is just not enough games.
    You’ve got to remember that every year won’t be the same. Usually there are three or four competitive teams and not one dominate.

  • hoops

    McBooth…Read your own words.Usually there are 3 or 4 competitive teams and not just one.So why is 4 teams not enough?
    The open just took out the 2 teams I had said were being punished for being good…Miramonte girls and O’D boys first round.Two teams that should be representing the North in D3 now get to sit at home and watch inferior teams they easily beat play for a state title.Neither team wanted to be in the open and this is why.

  • junior

    How could the Miramonte Girls showing vs St Mary’s last night prove anything other than they BELONGED in the Open. They clearly where an elite team in 2012/2013.

  • Prep Fan

    And the Mats just had 1 senior on the team this year. They not only showed they belonged, but should be a fixture in the Open for the foreseeable future. BOD boys belonged in the Open too. Heck, they just beat Modesto Christian last month, so they should have put up a better showing last night. The coaching changes made by the MC staff made the difference as they bottled up Rabb and dared the rest of the team to beat them. More good NorCal hoops on tap tonight.

  • hoops

    I never said Miramonte was not a good team and they are capable of beating anyone except O’Dowd.The reality is they did not want to play in the open and were forced to.O’Dowd boys did not want to play in the open either and were forced to.Both teams are in the top 8 of Nor Cal but the point is should teams be forced to play if they do not want to.
    I use to coach and I can tell you if I had a group of kids who had worked really hard and had a legit shot at winning a state title in their own division,I would never put them in the open knowing they had very little chance of beating a team like O’D girls who just crushed them in NCS.If a team has been dominant for a few years and has actually won something,that is different.O’D girls Salesian boys,defending state champions,I have no problem forcing them up.

  • hoops

    The CIF and guys like Gil Lemmon only look at the money.They give no consideration to what the players and coaches who put in all the time and make all of the sacrifices to be successful.I know how difficult it is to win a state championship and the time and work that goes with it.There should be a choice given to schools unless they have been dominant and recent champions.Sorry this subject touches a nerve with me.

  • mckbooth

    Any coach worth his salt wants to play the best teams. It’s not always about winning or losing ,but the magic that happens when you win and no one thinks you can. The special bond that continues way after high school and into real life experiences. The thought that is always in the back of your mind that if you work really hard and the probability of you winning isn’t all that good , but you remember the time that you and the team overcame the odds. Man that’s special.
    That’s why they should have the open.