By Brenna Eller
Opinion Page Editor
The NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship is coming to the Sports Arena again, starting Monday. Not only that, but Hutchinson Community College received one of the eight at-large-bids and has been seeded 11 in the tournament against Cape Fear, whic the Blue Dragons will play at noon Tuesday.
The Blue Dragons will now have been in the NJCAA Tournament 21 times.
Joe O’Sullivan, the Tournament Director, gave some information on the workings of being in the NJCAA Committee. There are other people with specific jobs such as team host, scorer’s table, press credentials and assignments, locker room and equipment, statisticians, entertainment, opening ceremonies, awards, public address, game officials (provided needs and security by committee), house committee, and others.
“They all do a great job without much involvement from me. My job is to manage all aspects of the tournament directly involving the games,” O’Sullivan said.
He also explained in further detail what he does.
“I coordinate the activities, making sure they are where they need to be when scheduled, communicate with coaches and game officials and NJCAA officials as necessary, provide solutions for problems should they arise, deal with inquiries and occasional complaints from fans, etc.,” O’Sullivan said.
Since HutchCC is now in the NJCAA Tournament, O’Sullivan said he presumes that there will be an increase in ticket sales and more enthusiasm from the Hutchinson community.
“Many of our fans have been coming for many years, and they can recite from memory the years in which Hutchinson won the tournament,” O’Sullivan said. “They are familiar with many of the teams who are returning, and the coaches and players from those schools who went on to four-year schools and to professional basketball.”
Even if the Blue Dragons hadn’t gotten into the Tournament, there still would’ve been a large audience.
“That has been proven over the 70 years the American Legion has sponsored this tournament in Hutchinson, even when HutchCC didn’t make it,” O’Sullivan said.
Since the American Legion hosts for all 24 teams, the Sports Arena has been appointed a “neutral court” so that there is no bias and no such thing as a “home-court advantage”. Therefore, committee members like O’Sullivan are impartial to certain teams, although O’Sullivan said that he is glad Hutchinson has made it to the Tournament.