NEW YORK CITY- The recently completed National Invitation Tournament is now more along the lines of history. That’s fine as yours truly wrote a book on NIT history (Arcadia Publishers, 2006). The tournament has always been a personal favorite and a few recollections from this 2014 edition are in order.
Impressed with the games in New York as on both night teams left it on the floor. Each game went to the wire and the one on the short end could by no means be fairly termed the ‘loser’ of the contest.
The SMU-Minnesota final was nothing short of great with ebbs, flows, moves and countermoves. Fittingly, it was finally decided on the last possession.
Minnesota coach Richard Pitno, for the young age of 31, showed great respect and admiration for the tradition and significance of our nation’s oldest post season tournament.
Pitino also had great admirat
on for SMU coach Larry Brown. No surprise as Brown is an outstanding coach who in two years has worked wonders with that program.
The play of Most outstanding Player Austin Hollins was memorable. Not just for his 19 points in the final and the huge three with just under a minute to play. He brought it on the all important defensive end. As a bonus he was very humble and insightful in post game interviews.
Great to see Dan McHale and Kimani Young on staff. Iiving in Northern New jersey I cover a number of Seton Hall games and got to know Dan when he was on the Pirate staff.
Yours truly also officiates. A few years back when Young brought his New Heights team to Jersey City for an all star game, I had the pleasure of working it. Found Young to be a very good coach and great to work for. We became friends from that time on.
Minnesota fans, you are blessed having the likes of Young and McHale assisting Pitino.
SMU had quite the animated following. A good band with a varied play list and just a number of devout fans in New York to enjoy the revitalization of the program under the direction of Larry Brown. Enjoying the trip back to the Big Apple and with a good sense of humor, Brown joked after the semifinal win over Clemson, "tomorrow I’ll watch the Knicks or maybe go to Les Mis (Les Miserables)."
Very impressed with Pitino celebrated the championship with family. Dad Rick, mom Joanne, his in laws etc. Even taking daughter Ava to post game press conference. Pitino may work ’24’7’ but has a priority on family.
Pitino again. Thought it was very classy how he commended former mentor Tubby Smith for recruiting good kids, character kids that made his transition to the Big Ten program all the more smooth. "He (Smith) recruited kids who will be successful ion life," praised Pitino.
Enjoyed meeting some Minnesota followers. The cheer squad was impressed I knew the dance team captured a national championship. Said I read it on Daily Gopher . Also mentioned my starting t contribute to which a few of the young ladies said "that’s so coo, thank you." My pleasure.
Coach Julie had a wonderful cheerleading group as outstanding representatives of the school during their stay in New York.
The final night attendance was just over 5,000. A bi down on numbers which was unfortunate. This was a game the late Al McGuire would classify a ’white knuckler’.
Enjoyed watching the young Pitino and veteran Brown match wits. The sideline ’chess match’ was in force.
The NIT marks the season end of ‘live’college coverage on my part. Can’t wait for November to get here and the games to resume. Can’t come soon enough.