Which teams were left out of Big Dance?

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Which teams were left out of Big Dance?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Washington and Seton Hall were hoping to get sent anywhere for the NCAA tournament. Instead, they wound up at home with No. 1 seeds in the NIT. Tennessee and Arizona also received top seeds Sunday night for the 75th NIT, which begins Tuesday and concludes with the March 29 championship game at Madison Square Garden. Drexel, snubbed by the NCAA selection committee, got a No. 3 seed and will host Central Florida in the first round. Other notable teams in the 32-team field are Miami, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nevada, Northwestern and Oral Roberts. Drexel (27-6) and Oral Roberts (27-6) had the most wins among teams not chosen for the 68-team NCAA tournament. Oral Roberts is seeded fourth in the NIT and will play No. 5 seed Nevada in the first round. Washington finished atop the Pac-12 standings, but became the first team to win a regular-season title in a power conference and miss the NCAA tournament. The Huskies (21-10) lost at UCLA in their regular-season finale and then to Oregon State 86-84 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament. "We had control of the situation and we lost it," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. Arizona reached the Pac-12 title game, but lost to Colorado 53-51. The Wildcats (23-11) will host Bucknell (24-9) in the NIT on Wednesday. "I want to fight and get these guys as far as we can," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "If that's New York City in the Final Four of the NIT, great. But it has everything to do with trying to have a magical season to win as many games and compete for championships. I think we all know our next loss will be our last." Nine teams from the Big East received NCAA bids. Seton Hall, seeded 10th in the conference tournament, was left out. Next up, the Pirates (20-12) host America East regular-season champion Stony Brook (22-9) on Tuesday night. Washington plays at home the same night against Texas-Arlington (24-8), the Southland Conference regular-season champion. Oral Roberts, Nevada and Drexel also were among the 11 teams to qualify automatically for the NIT because they won their regular-season conference crowns. Drexel won 19 games in a row before losing to Virginia Commonwealth in the Colonial Athletic Association title game. But a low RPI (in the 60s) and weak strength of schedule number (220s) kept the Dragons out of the NCAA tournament again -- they haven't made it since 1996. "My big thing has always been here at Drexel, I can't get nobody to play me at home," coach Bruiser Flint said. But that's where the Dragons will be Wednesday night when they face sixth-seeded UCF (22-10). Drexel, in the NIT for the first time since 2007, is a sparkling 13-0 at home. The NIT field includes 24 teams with at least 20 wins and five schools from the Atlantic 10 Conference. One of them is Dayton, the 2010 NIT champion. Washington and Arizona are joined by two other teams from the Pac-12, Oregon and Stanford. Both received a No. 3 seed. Northwestern, still seeking its first NCAA tournament invitation, is headed to its fourth straight NIT. The fourth-seeded Wildcats (18-13) will host No. 5 seed Akron (22-11) in the first round Tuesday night. The Zips entered the Mid-American Conference tournament with the top seed and lost 64-63 to Ohio in a wild final. 'One thing that hasn't happened here, I don't think there's ever been a postseason champion in basketball, and so we're going to play to win a championship," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. Wichita State beat Alabama in last year's NIT championship game.

New Cal coach Wyking Jones ready to prove critics wrong amid changes

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AP

New Cal coach Wyking Jones ready to prove critics wrong amid changes

Even the most passionate Cal fan might struggle to name a single player on the current basketball roster. The team's top five leading scorers from last season have all departed. Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird moved on to the NBA, Grant Mullins graduated, and both Charlie Moore and Kameron Rooks elected to transfer.

But perhaps the most significant change is on the sideline. Out is Cuonzo Martin, who agreed to a massive seven-year contract with Missouri, worth a reported $21 million. Replacing him is 44-year-old Wyking Jones, a longtime assistant coach, who spent the past two seasons as Martin's top aide in Berkeley.

Jones' promotion was met with heavy criticism from many in the media, both locally and nationally. Skeptics believe Cal settled for the cheap option, rather than the best option. But why can't both be true? There's no denying that salary played a factor in the hire - the athletic department's financial troubles have been well documented in recent years. But Jones impressed Athletic Director Mike Williams in other areas too, reportedly acing his job interview with a detailed plan for the program moving forward. And unlike the other candidates, Jones already has direct experience dealing with Cal's unique set of circumstances.

“It's not something that you can walk into and just get a really good grasp of,” Jones explained. “It's a learning curve that, if you walk into this situation for the first time, it would take you a tremendous amount of time. Knowing who to go to when you need things, who's in charge of this, who's in charge of that, just having a familiarity of how to really get things done around here.”

Jones also discovered the challenges of recruiting at a school like Cal, where not every athlete can qualify academically. While many coaches would view that as a negative, Jones chooses to embrace it.

“In my mind, that's what makes this place special,” he said. “It's the number one public institution in the world for a reason. Your recruiting pool shrinks quite a bit, but that's okay because typically what happens is if you get a kid who has a lot of discipline on and off the court, you're not going to run into troubles on the weekends when they're in the dorms. They're usually kids who have a lot of respect for the community and other students.”

From a coaching standpoint, Jones has unquestionably paid his dues in the world of college basketball. Prior to joining Cal as an assistant in 2015, he made stops at Louisville, New Mexico, Pepperdine, and Loyola Marymount, where he also played from 1991-95. Now, after nearly 15 years in collegiate coaching, Wyking Jones is a head coach.

“I think initially it's very exciting to have an opportunity to coach, have your own program at a storied program like Cal, to follow in the footsteps of some great coaches,” he said, smiling. “But now the smoke has cleared and it's time to get to work.”

That work has already begun. As previously mentioned, Jones will have to replace his top five scorers from a year ago, who accounted for nearly 56 points per game. The Bears will count on increased production from senior center Kingsley Okoroh and junior guard Don Coleman. They will also rely heavily on redshirt senior forward Marcus Lee, who sat out last season after transferring from Kentucky.

“It's an adjustment, for sure,” Jones admitted. “But you have 13 scholarships for a reason. It's just an opportunity for the guys who are still here to earn their scholarship. It's an opportunity for them to make a name for themselves and have an impact on this program.”

Under Cuonzo Martin, Cal established itself as one of the best defensive teams in the country. Last season, the Bears ranked 18th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 63.4 points per game. Jones hopes to continue that trend while also implementing a full-court pressure defense, similar to the one he coached at Louisville, which resulted in a national championship in 2013.

“It's a process,” he acknowledged. “In year one, hopefully we can be good at it. In year two, look to improve. In year three, hope to be great at it... It's a type of defense, when you're talking about pressing, it's reading all the other guys on the court. It's never scripted. It's being able to read when is the right time to go trap, when is the right time to go switch, when is the right time to bluff and stunt at a guy to slow him down. So there's a learning curve in it.”

Jones knows there will also be a learning curve for him personally as a head coach, especially with such a young and inexperienced roster. He expects his team to be overlooked and undervalued by much of the college basketball world, but that's just fine with him.

“I think a lot of people will probably guess that we won't be very good, and that's motivation right there. That's motivation for my staff, for our managers, for the support staff. It's motivation for everybody that's a part of this program to exceed those expectations. So I think that makes for an exciting season.”

Source: Kings to sign Summer League standout to two-way contract

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USATSI

Source: Kings to sign Summer League standout to two-way contract

Jack Cooley must have made a good impression on the Kings during the recently completed Las Vegas Summer League.

The former Notre Dame will sign a two-way contract with Sacramento, a league source confirmed to NBCSportsCalifornia.com's James Ham.

Cooley averaged 9.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and shot 64 percent over five games during Summer League action.

Cooley had other offers from teams overseas, but is hoping for another shot in the NBA.

Undrafted in 2013, Cooley's only NBA action came with Utah during the 2014-15 season. He averaged 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds in 16 games.

News of a deal was first reported by 2ways10days.com's Chris Reichert.