For the past six seasons, the A-Sun men’s and women’s tournaments were held at one predetermined site. But beginning with the 2013-14 season, first-round games will be played on the campus of the higher-seeded team.
The semifinal and final rounds of each eight-team tournament will be played at one common site, which the conference is still trying to determine.
“This is about engaging our great fans all season long — making them more a part of the regular-season race and rewarding them with tournament play in their communities,” A-Sun commissioner Ted Gumbart said in a release. “We now have the opportunity to bring our premier event to multiple campuses in the same year, which will be terrific broad promotion of our teams and our basketball at the most exciting time of the year.”
The move eliminates having one venue host all 14 games of the men’s and women’s tournaments. The last four seasons, the tournaments were hosted by Mercer, near the A-Sun’s headquarters in Macon.
“I think it’s a great change, because it puts substance into the regular season,” Kennesaw State men’s coach Lewis Preston said. “I think it puts a level of consistency that you’re going to need to have throughout the course of the year.
“To have another opportunity to play in front of your home fans is something that you can use to keep them motivated. I think it’s a great reward for your consistency throughout the season, so I think it’s a great thing as we move forward.”
Women’s coach Nitra Perry shared Preston’s opinion. Both liked the idea of the moving the quarterfinal games to campus sites because it gives the regular season even more meaning.
“I’ll definitely use it for pre-game speeches,” said Perry about using the new format as a motivational tool. “I’m not unique in this way. We all talk about non-conference being one season, conference being another season and postseason being the other season.
“With conference this year, I talked a lot about going to the tournament. When you talk about it at this point, we’re going to be talking about we want to host and get to the tournament with a tournament atmosphere in our building.”
Perry also suggested that the new format will change the dynamics of the tournament, giving it more urgency.
“With the first round on campuses, making it to the final four will be more like a privilege,” she said. “If you’ve won that first game, it will feel even better when you get to the main site because you survived, and now you’ve become one of the last four teams remaining, like in the national tournament.”