Monday, March 11, 2002

NIT takes half of Atlantic 10


Georgetown turns down invitation

The Associated Press

        The Atlantic 10, which had only Xavier selected for the NCAA Tournament, had five teams chosen Sunday night for the NIT's expanded 40-team field.

        Richmond, Saint Joseph's, St. Bonaventure, Temple and Dayton were selected for the NIT, which gets under way Tuesday night with five games.

        One name missing from the NIT list was Georgetown, which lost in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament and finished 19-11.

        Hoyas coach Craig Esherick said he couldn't accept the invitation because his team was going to be sent on the road and he didn't want his players missing classes.

        “We wanted to play but didn't want to play at all costs. We're in school now,” he said. “We couldn't use our home court, the MCI Center, because it's the site of the NCAA tournament's first two rounds this week. It got to the point that since we couldn't have a home game we wanted to be playing closer to home to not miss class. After a while I said "Look, maybe we're better off not doing it.”

        Through the first four rounds, all games are played at campus sites. The semifinals and championship game are to be played at New York's Madison Square Garden on March 26 and 28.

        The only other team to turn down an NIT bid was Louisville in 1987. The Cardinals accepted a bid this year and will play host to Princeton at 9 p.m. Tuesday. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said on his weekly television show Sunday that the NIT “would be quite an experience for us.”

        “If we're invited, it would take three wins, and obviously, we'll take it one at a time,” Pitino said. “But if you make it there, Madison Square Garden is probably the most exciting place to play in college basketball.”

        Besides Louisville, Conference USA sent three other teams to the NIT: South Florida, Memphis and Houston. The Big East, Mountain West and Southeastern Conference each had three.

        Iowa, which fell one game short of the NCAA Tournament, losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament final Sunday, will play host to LSU at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

        “We can still try to make it a positive by ending up in Madison Square Garden in the NIT,” Iowa senior Luke Recker said. “Hopefully, I have a lot of basketball left in an Iowa uniform.” Men's NIT schedule



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