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SWAC baseball tourney held in N.O. draws small crowd, critics cite lack of publicity

26th May 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Ryan Whirty
Contributing Writer

Last Sunday, May 17, Texas Southern swamped Southern University, 10-0, in the championship game of the SWAC baseball tournament in New Orleans.

And while SU coach Roger Cador said his team wasn’t fully prepared for the title contest, that’s not why he was upset with how the tourney turned out. What got Cador’s goat was what he perceives as the SWAC’s poor publicizing of the event, which was held at Pontchartrain Park’s historic Wesley Barrow Stadium.

“I like New Orleans as a host city, but I feel we set our standards way too low,” Cador said last week. “In terms of publicity, no newspaper really covered it. This was one of our best tournaments in several years. We had very good competition, the teams were very competitive, and I was pleased with the way my team played.

“But (conference officials) don’t know how to market it. It’s poor leadership from that office. They just don’t get it. I tried to tell them.”

Cador also said New Orleans wasn’t a great host location, adding that conference officials “aren’t looking for anything” from what is supposed to be a host city.

“I look at the service (tournament attendees) got,” he said. “There’s no way we’re going to patronize places that aren’t serving us well. There were places that just didn’t serve us well, so why would we go to those establishments?”

However, SWAC Associate Commissioner for Championships Donyale Canada said conferences believe they did a good job of publicizing the tournament, which included buying numerous spots on local radio stations. She did note, however, that there are chances to learn and grow from the experience.

“Every time we hold a championships, there’s always areas for improvement,” she said. “The city of New Orleans itself wasn’t hosting our event.

“I think (their publicity) was certainly much better than last year,” she added, “and we hope to build on that. We tried to make people aware that we were there. We did what we needed to do to at least point out to people in the community about the tournament. But like with everything, there are things we can do better.”

Canada noted that the SWAC didn’t hold the tournament in partnership with any New Orleans entity or organization, simply that the tourney games took place at Wesley Barrow Stadium, a fact that she said helps educate people about local African-American baseball history.

“Every time we can get people to experience new stuff, to come to the stadium and see all the pictures of the local greats, it’s a positive,” she said.

Overall, Canada asserted, the tourney was a major success, especially given the meteorological circumstances.

“It went very well,” she said. “There were some competitive games, and we had really nice attendance despite the weather. New Orleans works very well for our conference geographically.”
But Cador said Baton Rouge and Southern University would be a better host city and still said NOLA was a bad choice for the tournament location.

However, despite his dissatisfaction with the execution, promotion and hosting of the event, Cador was very pleased with how his team performed during the tournament, which was held May 14-17.

The Jaguars posted a thrilling, come-from-behind, 6-5 win over tourney No. 1 seed Jackson State to vault into the SWAC championship contest for the first time since 2010, a remarkable feat considering Southern started the 2015 season a miserable 3-15.

“We had a good run,” Cador said. “We started out very poorly at the beginning of the year, but then the kids caught fire. We had a drive to win it all. To be in the position to do that was a wonderful feeling.

“It was focus (that started the streak),” Cador added. “We talked about all the things we needed to do, and things just got going really good for us.”

Cador was, naturally, disappointed with the outcome of the title game against Texas Southern, in which SU committed a disheartening seven errors in the field and was stymied at the plate by TSU pitcher Frank Cruz IV.

The SU coach said his team got a little full of itself following the Friday night upset win over JSU that put the Jags in the championship showdown.

“I think our kids celebrated too much after that Friday night game,” Cador said. “I told them that was the wrong thing to do.”

This article originally published in the May 25, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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