We’re #66! Who has the “interest”?

by March 24, 2008

By Kelvin Powell

As band members fine tune their instruments and the fans march to their seats, it dawned on me that #66 ( the logical ranking for the ultimate NIT winner) may not be the best team with the best name, but rather the team that can totally block out the fact that there’s another postseason tournament preparing to take place. A postseason tournament that has consumed all college teams for the last 11 months. One that each member of this NIT field had their sight set on during April’s evaluation period, May’s postseason conditioning, June’s university-wide basketball camps, July’s recruiting period, August’s scheduled home visit, September’s campus visits, October’s pre-season conditioning, November’s signing date, December’s non-conference games, January’s start of conference play, February’s mid conference line up adjustments, March’s strategy for the late season run to glory – a strategy known now simply as “Sweet GEORGIA Brown”.

The 71st Annual National Invitation Tournament began Tuesday night at various hosting institution. I landed at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to watch the Florida State Seminoles play host to the Akron Zips. Both teams entered the game on one game losing streaks. The fact is all teams enter the tournament with at least a one game losing streak. The fact is the prohibited favorites are in large part teams who just had their bubble burst. The remaining field includes what you’d call Mid-Majors or the latest descriptive idiom – “Bracket Busters” just that these Busters failed. So of the Blunders, Bubbles and Busters who has the “Interest” in capturing this year’s NIT brought to us by Master Card. Is this tournament charged off to a credit card? I’ve always wondered what staff member was responsible for inflating the remnants of a bubble team. Is that the job of the Director of Basketball Operations? I can see that director now “forget everything we said the last 11 months, this is a great opportunity” raves State University’s DOB Beckett Brennan “We can be number 66.”

(Expletives heard in low tone throughout the room).

To the game, FSU entered the game as the 3rd seed with a 19-14 overall record and 7-9 in conference. The Zips of Akron enter the game as the 6th seed with 23-10 overall record and a 11-5 conference mark. So let understand this 19 beats 23 and 7 beats 11 in Master Card NIT arithmetic. Less is more. Only if you are an ACC team or a BCS team competing against a MAC team or non-BCS team. Okay. An ACC Blunder is a favorite over a MAC Buster. The winner gets an A10 Bubble. Got it!

20:00 FSU Wins the tip – the Interest Rate is High (Among FSU’s players and fans)
18:59 Good! Jumper by Zips’ Linhart, Nate – Akron leads 2-0 Interest Rate slightly down
18:02 Good! 3 PTR by Zips ‘Wood, Jeremiah Akron lead 5-0 Interest Rate reluctantly slides
15:47 TIMEOUT 30 sec called by FSU coach Leonard Hamilton to regain control of the Interest
15:30 TV TIMEOUT “This game is on TV?” ESPN CLASSIC …More Interest
10:55 GOOD! 3 PTR by Zips’ Roberts, Darryl –Akron up 20-5
Early Analysis FSU shots are all falling short; Akron is trapping each pick and roll-stopping penetration and playing the passing lanes; another steal for Akron.
Star Watch: Akron’s Jeremiah Wood PF (6’6” 235, Senior-3L, Akron, Ohio – Central-Hower HS) 13.9 ppg 7.8 rpg 70 assists. Strong Presence.

5:54 FSU’s Toney Douglass limps to the locker room. Douglass is FSU’s top gun. (6’1” 200, Junior, Jonesboro, GA – Jonesboro HS) 15.6 ppg 3.2 rpg 97 assists. Athletic Lead Guard. Pro Prospect
After another ESPN Classic Timeout, FSU’s Ryan Reid scores his six consecutive
Point the Seminoles down only 2- Akron 25-23
2:44 GOOD! 3PTR by Seminoles’ Demercy, Jordan – FSU leads 26-25
HALFTIME: # 6 Akron Zips 27- # 3 Florida State 26

As I head to the Media Room for Stats, Pop and Joe’s (from the Bedrock Gazette) unsolicited first half analysis. Joe does mention that there’s another post season tournament – the “CBI” College Basketball Invitational. We’re # 98? Is this on the Disney Channel?
Halftime Analysis: Akron has scored 15 points off 11 FSU turnovers. Douglass is scoreless.
16:00 GOOD! JUMPER by Seminoles’ Douglass, Toney – Game Tie at 34-34
15:23 GOOD! JUMPER by Seminoles’ Douglass, Toney- Game Tie at 36-36
11:47 GOOD! LAYUP by Seminoles’ Rich, Jason FSU- 40 Akron – 36- Interest Rate Is High
10:08 GOOD! 3 PTR by Zips’ Roberts, Darryl Akron regain leads 43-40
07:34 ESPN Classic Timeout
Mike Jarvis is doing the color commentary. Jarvis was the former St. John’s University coach. The Johnnies have won this “the Master Card NIT” more than any other school. 6 times. Did you know? The NIT is the nation’s oldest postseason collegiate basketball tournament was founded in 1938. A group of New York City sportswriters, known as the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Committee (MIBC), and then, in 1948, the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association (MIBA) took charge. The MIBA was composed of representatives from five of the original members of the MIBC: Fordham University, Manhattan College, New York University, St. John’s University and Wagner College
05:28 MISSED FT SHOT by Zips’ Dials, Nick
05:28 MISSED FT SHOT by Zips’ Dials, Nick
4:27 GOOD! 3 PTR by Zips’ Dials, Nick – Akron 48-42 -Interest Is Low
2:57 GOOD! LAYUP by Seminoles’ Echefu, Uche – Akron 50-47 Interest Increase
1:05 GOOD! FT SHOT by Seminoles’ Mims, Ralph – Akron 51-48
1:05 GOOD! FT SHOT by Seminoles’ Mims, Ralph – Akron 51-49
00:11 GOOD! LAYUP by Seminoles’ Douglass, Toney – Game Tie at 51-51
00:01 Zips’ Dials shot falls short. OVERTIME!

This year’s Master Card NIT will not have a repeat champion as last year’s winner West Virginia is playing in the other post season tournament. The other tournament that CBS broadcast, sponsors the TIMEOUTS and pays the NCAA billions. West Virginia’s bubble remained intact. South Carolina had won the Master Card NIT in 2005 and 2006, but Dave Odom resigned during the 2008 season with two National titles. Great job Bill Old. Old was the Director of Basketball Operations for South Carolina during their back to back NIT championships. Old is presently directing the operations at another NIT participant – Virginia Tech- an ACC Bubble. This year’s favorite is Virginia Tech due in large part to Bill Old.

3:39 GOOD! 3 PTR by Zips Dials, Nick – Akron 54-51 Interest fades
2:35 GOOD! 3PTR by Zips’ Dials, Nick – Akron 57-54 Interest fades
1:52 GOOD! 3 PTR by Zips’ Dials, Nick – Akron 61 -56 Interests fades further
00:16 GOOD! LAYUP BY Seminoles’ Douglass, Toney – Game Tie no not this time Toney- Akron leads by 3. No Interest at All.
00:07 GOOD! FT SHOT by Zips’ Dials, Nick – Akron 65-60 Interest at an all-time high……. FSU SPRING FOOTBALL!!!!!!
FINAL MAC Busters 65 ACC Blunders 60
Busters advance-we think.

Buster of the Game:
Nick Dials 21pts (13 pts in OT), 4 assists, 5-three pointers


Akron Head Coach Keith Dambrot
“I thought this win was not only big for our school and our conference, but good for all mid-majors”.

Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton
“We couldn’t get the easy things done.
We invented ways to turn the ball over”

Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton
After a 9:00 PM start, overtime and playing second leg at tonight’s post game press conference Hamilton ask “What time is it?” “Midnight” answers one of the 15 or so media members still interested in sticking around. “Midnight.”