New York City- The hustle and bustle is evident everywhere you move. Penn Station, the avenues, side streets, commuters are making their way home, free from another 9-to-5. Amid the mass movement, the neon sign is lit up in splendor. The announcement to those inclined is the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
The nation’s oldest post season tournament. A virtual rite of Spring, as evident as the mixture of frost contrasted by rising mercury. The minute preseason baseball annuals hit the stands, you know NIT time is not far off, a great time on the basketball calendar. On this evening, thete are four solid mid-majors: Valparaiso, BYU, San Diego State and George Washington.
Detractors may label the tournament as a ‘mid-major’ event. They are missing the point. This ‘Final Four’ is a celebration and recognition of a level that has effectively carried its weight in the ‘Big Dance.’ An added feature no one can detract, playing at Madison Square Garden, the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena.’
The evening’s games give us four programs from different conferences and regions. The games were a study in different methods of execution and success, from Valpo’s defense and ball movement, to BYU’s offense, San Diego State’s rebounding and the 1-3-1 zone of George Washington.
Varied basketball entertainment for fans. Ample material for coaches and would-be coaches to fill their notebooks. A night to remember for fans, especially those making the trip to follow their beloved favorites. The results saw Valpo edge BYU and George Washington handle San Diego State. The final on Thursday gives us two programs who have never advanced this far in the NIT. A new and first-time champion will be crowned.
The years, to we longtime followers, move on in tournament lore. Each year, though, brings a new chapter to be chronicled, a bit of refreshing change mirroring the season of Spring.
Between charts and notes, a press row look at George Washington and San Diego State:
The Vogues sang about the "five o'clock world" in the 1960s. In New York, it remains present today:
George Washington assistant coaches prepare to scout the BYU-Valparaiso semifinal:
The Madison Square Garden jumbotron tells all:
Brigham Young's Kyle Collinsworth meets the media:
San Diego State at the free throw line:
The interview room, in extreme silence, awaits players and coaches in the second semifinal: