Panthers' Brady sees red after blind playoff draw

Sidelines

February 24, 1999|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

"What are the odds of not getting a bye all four years of the open tournament?" Annapolis coach John Brady asked.

Brady and his No. 3-ranked Panthers (20-1) have won 20 games in a season an Anne Arundel County record 18 times, including all four years since the inception of the lottery draw for the region playoffs (82-20 with two region titles in that time).

No other county team is even close to the Annapolis record, yet it has earned the Panthers nothing in the blind draw.

The are only nine teams in the 4A East region this season, which means seven byes and one first-round game in the bracket of 16.

"One guess who got the only first-round game in the 4A East region," said Brady, whose Panthers drew an opening-round contest for the fourth consecutive year.

Annapolis plays host to Severna Park (10-12) at 6 p.m. Friday. With victories by 24 and 31 points over the Falcons this season, a Panthers victory is likely. Annapolis would then play Monday at No. 5 Meade (21-1), which plays host to Annapolis in tonight's county championship game and is a team the Panthers defeated in the regular season.

That's what you get for going 21-1.

"It's unbelievable that we've never gotten a bye and have had to win four games every year [of the open tournament] to win the region and get to the state tournament," said Brady.

Only two other county teams have won 20 games in a season -- Meade this year and Broadneck (21-5) in 1996-97 -- during Annapolis' four-year streak of 20-win seasons.

"It's not fair and wasn't fair last year for Meade that they had to play at our place," said Brady. "Meade earned the home game, not us."

Meade defeated Annapolis in the regular season, 80-70, and again in the county championship game, 70-63, but because of the random drawing the Mustangs had to play at Annapolis in the region semifinals, where they lost, 64-62.

The Panthers went on to Cole Field House for the state semifinals.

Tom Albright, the dean of county coaches in his 34th season at Southern-Harwood, said the concept that allows everyone into the tournament regardless of record has reduced the regular season to "22 scrimmages before the only games that count."

After his No. 9-ranked Patriots (19-3) ended Annapolis' 14-game winning streak this season with a 64-61 victory on the Panthers' home floor, Old Mill coach Paul Bunting and his players low-keyed it, saying, "This is only the preseason before the real season, the playoffs."

Brady is so upset by the process that he considered "boycotting the tournament," but that "would not have been fair to the kids. Something has to be done."

Some form of seeding may be the answer.

"Absolutely, we need to seed, and I'm saying this after getting a draw that came down from heaven, " said Ken Kazmarek, coach and athletic director of Class 3A Broadneck.

"City, Carver and Patuxent are all in the other bracket [Broadneck would not play any of them until the final] and we start off with Northeast [1-21].

"But the blind draw is the worst thing we've ever done and it's got to be changed. I don't know how, but they've got to figure out some way to seed at least the top four teams."

Most coaches don't have a problem putting everybody in the tournament, but just as many want seeding to reward success.

The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association is starting to listen to the coaches. For the second straight year, the MPSSAA is asking its member schools for suggestions on the process.

"Most people don't understand how much work coaches put into having a winning season," said Brady. "We give up Thanksgiving, Christmas, other holidays preparing, looking at films, busting our tails with Saturday practices.

"We worry about team chemistry, grades, problems, parents. Your kids have a great season, and then they have the draw and the 20-win team could play at the home of the 20-game loser, or the latter gets a bye while you play one of the top teams."

Sideliners

In the 69-40 Annapolis victory at Broadneck Monday that clinched a berth in tonight's county championship game, Marcus Johnson really earned his 15 points. Eight of his points came in a decisive 23-7 third quarter by the Panthers and they were very satisfying for the 6-5 junior.

Johnson got off to a rocky start, missing several three-point attempts in the first half, and the Bruin fans let him know it. Every time Johnson touched the ball, the they chanted, "Air ball."

"I don't really worry about the crowd," said Johnson, who didn't stop shooting and hit a pair of threes. "That gets me hyped up. I like it because you have something to prove that you can play."

Have a note or question for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline at 410-647-2499.

Pub Date: 2/24/99

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