Floriani’s NIT Diary: Ganging Up on the Garden

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 2nd, 2011


Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is an RTC contributor. While covering the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden, Ray sent us photographic evidence of his mischief along with a few notes.

This tournament still has a place, a big place. Teams might not get on the board Selection Sunday, and there is an initial disappointment in not getting in the Big Dance. Once the games and challenges present themselves, the participants realize the NIT is a big deal.  The nation’s oldest postseason tournament has tradition and history on its side. Plus, the Final Four earn a trip to New York and the chance to play on the hallowed court of Madison Square Garden as an added incentive.


A rainy afternoon greets visitors and rush hour commuters outside of the ‘world’s most famous arena’. The Celtic Thunder announcement depicted does not pertain to a certain NBA franchise about 220 miles to the north.

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Crowning #69, the Wichita State Shockers…

Posted by rtmsf on April 1st, 2011

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.  He was at Thursday night’s NIT Championship and filed the following report.

Graham Hatch was beaming in the postgame press conference. Could you blame him? The senior from Mesa, Arizona, had just played a major part in helping his team win the NIT on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, plus he was wrapping up his collegiate career with a win. Not many players can say that.  Hatch connected on all four of his shots against Alabama, including back-to-back threes that sealed the game for the Shockers en route to their 66-57 win in front of 4,873 fans at the Garden. For his efforts, Hatch was named the NIT’s most outstanding player. He could barely believe it after the game.


A Mid Over an SEC Team -- Prelude to Monday Night?

“This is what it’s all about,” Hatch said. “It’s just magical. It’s unbelievable.” For all those who say the NIT is a meaningless tournament, the Wichita State players and coaches were having none of that tonight. Coach Gregg Marshall talked about how special this group of kids, now the single-season record holders for wins in school history (29), is to him but he singled out Hatch and junior center Garrett Stutz. Marshall spoke glowingly about them, saying you won’t find better human beings than these two players. “That’s a fact.”

The first half was well played by both teams but the Shockers (29-8) seized control late, using an 11-1 run over a three minute span in the latter stages of the game to put it away and win their first NIT title. The Crimson Tide had pulled to within four with under six minutes to play but Aaron Ellis made an important jumper with 4:43 to go and then Hatch struck the first of his two blows 26 seconds later.  JaMychal Green led the Crimson Tide (25-12) with 10 first half points but made only one field goal after intermission. Green picked up his fourth foul with 10:59 remaining and was forced to sit on the bench until it was too late. Alabama actually shaved one point off the Wichita State lead in the first five minutes after Green’s fourth foul but couldn’t sustain that momentum long enough for their star player to have an impact down the stretch.  Tony Mitchell led Alabama with 13 points and 12 rebounds but also turned the ball over five times in the loss.

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RTC Live: Alabama vs. Wichita State (NIT Championship)

Posted by rtmsf on March 31st, 2011

The NIT concludes Thursday night at Madison Square Garden with the championship game featuring Alabama and Wichita State. The Crimson Tide got by Colorado on Tuesday thanks to Trevor Releford’s game winning layup in the final seconds. As for Wichita State, they had no trouble with Washington State and cruised to a 31-point victory. Center Garrett Stutz posted career highs in points and rebounds against the Cougars and could play a major role again tonight opposite Alabama’s JaMychal Green. The Crimson Tide forward made 11 of his 16 shots against Colorado but will have to do a better job on the boards against Stutz and the taller Wichita State team. The Shockers destroyed Washington State on the boards, outrebounding the Cougars 52-25. Alabama usually does a good job on the offensive glass but will have to contend with a Shockers team allowing opponents to grab only 25.7% of their misses, third in the nation. Alabama will have to go right at the Wichita big men given their strengths as a team. Anthony Grant’s club gets the vast majority of their points inside and that’s likely where the outcome of this game will be determined. Be sure to follow along with RTC Live as we bring you what should be an exciting late March game between two teams that easily could have been in the NCAA Tournament if just a few more things had gone their way.

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RTC Live: NIT Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 29th, 2011

The NIT field has been whittled from 32 to four as the semifinalists take center stage tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York. Two top seeds have made it to the Big Apple, Colorado and Alabama, and they’ll play in the nightcap. The first game features Klay Thompson and Washington State going up against Wichita State, a team that knocked off #1 seed Virginia Tech in Blacksburg nine days ago. All four teams were in the NCAA Tournament picture late into the season so this should be an exciting doubleheader. Alabama and Colorado have not been significantly challenged in this tournament and that’s a credit to both Anthony Grant and Tad Boyle for keeping their respective teams motivated in the face of what they perceived as NCAA snubs. Motivation is always a question mark in this tournament and both teams have done a nice job putting the past behind them and focusing on the here and now. Washington State has rebounded nicely from Thompson’s suspension which took them out of NCAA contention with a late season loss to UCLA. The storyline around Wichita State is whether their head coach, Gregg Marshall, will remain in that position after this tournament. Marshall will be on the lists of some prominent programs and may leave Wichita for greener pastures. Join RTC Live from the Garden tonight for what should be a fun doubleheader.

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NIT: Refresher at the Quarterfinal Round

Posted by rtmsf on March 23rd, 2011

Walker Carey is an RTC contributor.

Given all the media and fan attention on the NCAA Tournament, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there were 32 other teams (several pretty good ones) playing on (mostly) the off days.  The NIT is the grand-daddy of postseason basketball, so let’s get you briefly caught up on where that tournament is at the quarterfinal stage.

Alabama Bracket

The first two rounds in the Alabama Bracket have seen the top seeds advancing in each game, which sets up a quarterfinal game between top seeded Alabama and second seeded Miami (FL) Wednesday night. Alabama has used solid performances from guards Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford, as well as from big man JaMychal Green to breeze past Coastal Carolina and New Mexico in home games. The Hurricanes have gotten solid guard play from Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott to earn victories over Florida Atlantic and Missouri State in Coral Gables. The quarterfinals will come down to whether Frank Haith’s team can find scoring options against one of the better defensive teams still playing basketball this season.  The winner advance to the semifinals in New York City.

Colorado Bracket

The first round of the Colorado Bracket gave us two of the biggest upsets of the tournament thus far. After getting their bubble burst on Selection Sunday, second seeded Saint Mary’s was upset at home by seventh seeded Kent State after blowing a 13-point lead. The first round also saw third seeded Colorado State lose at home to sixth seeded Fairfield. The Golden Flashes topped the Stags in the second round to advance to the quarterfinal. In the top half of the bracket, Colorado has used strong performances from standouts Alec Burks and Cory Higgins to easily defeat Texas Southern, California and Kent State in succession.  The Buffs are playing like a team with a chip on its shoulder, and will advance to NYC to await the winner of the Alabama-Miami (FL) game.

Boston College Bracket

The first round of the Boston College Bracket saw all the top seeds advance and do so fairly convincingly. However, things changed in the second round, as top seeded Boston College was blown out at home by fourth seeded Northwestern. The Wildcats used a balanced attack led by John Shurna and Michael Thompson to throttle the Eagles. Elsewhere in the second round, Washington State used a strong performance from star guard Klay Thompson to get past third seed Oklahoma State by a 74-64 margin. The second round results set up a quarterfinal matchup between fourth seed Northwestern and second seed Washington State. Considering that the game will be played in Pullman and Klay Thompson might be the best player in the NIT this year, Wazzu should advance to the semifinals in Madison Square Garden next week.

Virginia Tech Bracket

The first round of the Virginia Tech Bracket contained the top individual performance of the tournament thus far. College of Charleston guard Andrew Goudelock netted 39 points to lead the sixth seeded Cougars to an upset victory over three seed Dayton. The Cougars remained hot in the second round by knocking out star guard Norris Cole and the Cleveland State Vikings. The top half of the bracket saw top seed Virginia Tech and fourth seed Wichita State advance to the second round where the Hokies and Shockers battled in an overtime classic. In the end, Wichita State was able to ride a balanced scoring effort to defeat the Hokies and overcome Malcolm Delaney’s 30 points. Both the Cougars and the Shockers are on a roll heading into the quarterfinal Wednesday night, making it a tough game to predict, but if Goudelock catches fire for Bobby Cremins’ squad then College of Charleston will enjoy a trip to New York as the sole mid-major representative next week in Manhattan. 

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