No NCAA Tournament; No NIT — No Way? … Yes, wayby Steve Rivera on Mar. 14, 2010, under Sports
It was a strange scene at McKale Center on Sunday night. By 5:30 p.m., UA hadn’t been invited to the NCAA Tournament and the NIT was still being announced.
Arizona sophomore guard Brendon Lavender and I couldn’t get into McKale Center just after 6 p.m. to see what the NIT invites would be. For the past 25 years, there was always an open door or a booster party to attend or a loaded press conference to get to. Not Sunday – even if it was for the NIT.
“We’ll get in,’’ Lavender said, almost in a question.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, with an “of course” type of tone.
Well, I was wrong again.
Last year, I said Arizona wasn’t going to get in the NCAA Tournament; it did. This year, it couldn’t even get into the NIT. Wrong again.
How times have changed. Arizona coach Sean Miller had yet to speak to his team when he addressed the five or six media members in the small McKale Center press room, but he said they’d likely be disappointed by the news.
“The goal is to get back to the NCAA tournament as quick as we can,’’ Miller said. “The only thing you have to do to learn how college basketball has changed is to look at who is not in the (NCAA) tournament.’’
That’s defending champion North Carolina. That’s usual power Connecticut. That’s Arizona.
Miller said it was a perspective “of how far teams can tumble.’’
No one needs to tell Arizona, despite finishing 16-15 this season. But it’s over. And it wasn’t a big surprise to Miller. He had a feeling.
“Performance is how you get into it … and we probably fell a little bit short,’’ Miller said.