Well, your Stanford Cardinal are still in it and have now guaranteed themselves of a spot in basketballs top 72. Mind you, Im not diminishing the accomplishments of the Cardinal who are probably playing their best ball of the season, its just that the NIT has lost just a tad of its luster in fact you might say its just plain rusted out.
In fact its even possible that Stanford could play fellow Pac-12 competitor Washington in the final at Madison Square Garden. That should bring em in from Jersey in hordes dont you think?
There was a time when the NIT had more prestige than the NCAA tournament for instance when USF won it back in 1949. In recent years however what it represents is an opportunity for coaches to have as many as fifteen or so more practices than they otherwise would have. And with a young team like the Cardinal, that could mean a whole lot when it comes to a hoped for improvement in 2012-13.
For the Cardinal this has been a bookend season. It began with a trip to the pre-season NIT final at Madison Square Garden in which they lost a winnable game against Syracuse. And it will end in the final four of the post season NIT final four at least. Nice. Except theyd cash it all in for a better conference season and a trip to the real tournament which is currently composed of a grand total of zero teams from the left side of the country.
Which begs the question; will it be any better next year? Certainly its a tad early to start making predictions, but the simple answer is not so much.
Stanford should be better and be in the top half of the Pac 12 next year. They need consistency, but that comes with experience and thats what playing in the Brand X tournament this year will give them.
Cal loses toughness with Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez graduating. Theyve got talent coming back and could be more athletic but its going to take another yeomans coaching job by Mike Montgomery for the Bears to be in the Pac 12 pack.
Washington will lose two players to the pros in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross and I think will actually be better. Not enough basketballs for that team this year.
Arizona has the nations No. 1 recruiting class coming in and almost everyone back. They will be in the national championship hunt next season.
UCLA kept its coach and kept its recruiting commitments. Theyll be lots better especially if Joshua Smith loses about an entire Joshua Smith.
Kevin ONeil promised me USC would be good next year. OK K.O. Better lots better I believe. Not sure Im going as far as good.
Dana Altman has proven that he can win with a bunch of guys who have never even met each other. Oregon loses some good seniors but I still think will be in the hunt.
Oregon State gets everybody back. They should have been better this year with what they have. I dont get it.
Herb Sendek at ASU will at least have a point guard next year. When hes got his kind of guys he can really coach. I may be a minority of one but I think they could be OK.
And lets not forget that Washington State is still playing and in the finals of the Whatchamacallit Tournament that makes the NIT look like the NBA Finals. Ken Bone does more with less than any coach in the conference. You try recruiting to Pullman, Washington.
I say that with sincere apologies to our own Jayme Sire who knows every great restaurant in Pullman. Which is like knowing the best Jewish deli in Beijing.