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What the ‘secret’? Only college teams know

Most college basketball teams hold “secret” scrimmages to prepare for the season. Yes, it sounds like something out of the “Weekly World News,” but there’s a difference.

These things are real.

There was a massive list from Jeff Goodman last week on which schools were playing and where. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else (stupid secrets!) until this story from Mark Zeigler at the San Diego Union Tribune. (Move over Bob Woodward!)

Here’s the rundown from the paper:

More prevalent and increasingly more popular, though, are the supersecret “practice scrimmages” between Division I teams that the public can’t watch and schools can’t list on their schedules and coaches can’t discuss.

“Only athletics department staff members and those individuals necessary to conduct the practice scrimmage may be present during the scrimmage,” NCAA guidelines state. “Further, the institution must ensure the scrimmage is free from public view and media are not in attendance.”

The rule book continues: “An official score and/or statistics for the practice scrimmage may not be kept. However, an institution may keep score and/or statistics for private use ... An institution may not provide the score and/or any statistics to any type of media outlet.”

Or as SDSU coach Steve Fisher explains: “You can’t put a score on the scoreboard, but everybody knows what it is.”

The “secret” scrimmages arose from the NCAA putting an end to schools playing teams like Athletes in Action or Double Pump back in 2004. They used to be a staple of every team’s November schedule. So now schools gets any combination of two preseason games, either closed scrimmages or public exhibitions.

And coaches like it.

“It gives you a better barometer of where you are,” Toreros coach Bill Grier told the paper. “If you play a team that doesn’t have size or athleticism or something you’re not going to see during the season, I don’t know how much you get out of beating them by 30 points.”

Now if only the rest of us could watch!

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.