Postseason bid excites Tulsa
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
3/16/10 at 8:06 AM
Tulsa's basketball team is going through a rejuvenation period.
The Golden Hurricane is preparing for a new opponent for the first time since early January, and that seems to have gotten the team's competitive juices flowing.
TU (23-11) will play at Kent State on 6 p.m. Wednesday in the National Invitation Tournament's opening round.
"Being able to get out and be able to see a different style of play and a different team is exciting and challenging at the same time," Tulsa senior Jerome Jordan said.
While the NCAA Tournament was the ultimate goal for TU, coach Doug Wojcik said during a Monday press conference there's "no shame" in playing in the NIT.
"This is a great opportunity for us, and there's no shame in it," Wojcik said. "It's an achievement, and I'm very pleased with my team and what we did this year."
This is the second consecutive season that the Golden Hurricane will play in the 32-team field. The tournament begins Tuesday. The semifinals and championship games are at Madison Square Garden and will be played on March 30 and April 1, respectively.
TU has had recent postseason experience. Tulsa won the College Basketball Invitational two years ago and advanced to the NIT's second round last season. Counting the Conference USA tournaments, the Hurricane is a combined 13-5 after the regular season's conclusion over the past three campaigns.
"A lot of times, when you get into spring break, you want to shut it down and go home," Wojcik said. "Our guys have shown great resiliency and great passion for being in the postseason.
"(Experience) can only help us individually and in the program."
Ben Uzoh and Jordan, two of the team's three seniors, are thrilled to extend their seasons.
"We're excited to be here," Uzoh said. "It's a privilege and another postseason opportunity. We feel good, and it's something to be proud about."
Kent State (23-9) earned an automatic bid after winning the Mid-American Conference's regular season championship. The Golden Flashes are no stranger to postseason play, qualifying in 11 of the past 12 years.
Kent coach Geno Ford threw heavy praise in Tulsa's direction.
"The athleticism that you get in Conference USA is different," Ford said. "The Mid-American Conference is a different style, with a little more of a half-court game.
"For us to be competitive, it has to be a slow-down game where we can use some clock and have good possessions. If that game goes up-and-down, it could be embarrassing."
Ford said the campus is thrilled to have TU at its arena, which seats 6,327. The Golden Flashes have won 50 of their last 56 home games.
"We do not get a team from Conference USA and the caliber of Tulsa in our gym often," he said. "We're excited for the opportunity."
National Invitation Tournament
Northeastern (20-12) at Connecticut (17-15), 6 p.m.
N.C. State (19-15) at South Florida (20-12), 7 p.m.
Coastal Carolina (28-6) at UAB (23-8), 7 p.m.
Texas Tech (17-15) at Seton Hall (19-12), 8 p.m.
William & Mary (22-10) at North Carolina (16-16), 8:30 p.m.
Jackson State (19-12) at Mississippi State (23-11), 9 p.m.
Jacksonville (19-12) at Arizona State (22-10), 10 p.m.
Tulsa (23-11) at Kent State (23-9), 6 p.m.
Illinois State (22-10) at Dayton (20-12), 6 p.m.
Weber State (20-10) at Cincinnati (18-15), 6 p.m.
Quinnipiac (23-9) at Virginia Tech (23-8), 6 p.m.
Northwestern (20-13) at Rhode Island (23-9), 6 p.m.
Troy (20-12) at Mississippi (21-10), 7 p.m.
Nevada (20-12) at Wichita State (25-9), 7:05 p.m.
Illinois (19-14) at Stony Brook (22-9), 8 p.m.
St. John's (17-15) at Memphis (23-9), 8 p.m.
Illinois-Stony Brook winner vs. Tulsa-Kent State winner, TBA
Illinois State-Dayton winner vs. Weber State-Cincinnati winner, TBA
Jacksonville-Arizona State winner vs. Texas Tech-Seton Hall winner, TBA
St. John's-Memphis winner vs. Troy-Mississippi winner, TBA
Quinnipiac-Virginia Tech winner vs. Northeastern-Connecticut winner, TBA
Nevada-Wichita State winner vs. Northwestern-Rhode Island winner, TBA
Jackson State-Mississippi State winner vs. William & Mary-North Carolina winner, TBA
N.C. State-South Florida winner vs. Coastal Carolina-UAB winner, TBA
Illinois-Stony Brook-Tulsa-Kent State winner vs. Illinois State-Dayton-Weber State-Cincinnati winner, TBA
Jacksonville-Arizona State-Texas Tech-Seton Hall winner vs. St. John's-Memphis-Troy-Mississippi winner, TBA
Quinnipiac-Virginia Tech-Northeastern-Connecticut winner vs. Nevada-Wichita State-Northwestern-Rhode Island winner, TBA
Jackson State-Mississippi State-William & Mary-North Carolina winner, vs. N.C. State-South Florida-Coastal Carolina-UAB winner, TBA
Tuesday, March 30
At Madison Square Garden
First Game, 6 p.m.
Second Game, 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 1
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.
NIT first round
Tulsa (23-11) vs. kent state
At MAC Center, Kent, Ohio
6 p.m. Wednesday
Tickets: Call TU ticket office at
Eric Bailey 581-8391
TU's Jerome Jordan, here dunking against Marshall during the Conference USA tournament, says he is excited about postseason play. The Hurricane takes on Kent State in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday. STEPHEN HOLMAN / Tulsa World