NIT Fever, Catch it!

OK, so the old NBA advertising slogan doesn’t work for the National Invitation Tournament’s two San Diego entries, San Diego State’s men in the NIT and the University of San Diego’s women in the WNIT.

But wasn’t it better to have SDSU’s men beating Missouri State Wednesday to earn a date Monday at storied Syracuse than the season ending without a berth in the post-season?

And isn’t it better having the USD women play a home game against UC Santa Barbara at 7 tonight at the Jenny Craig Pavilion than waiting until November for the Toreros’ next game?

The NIT and the addition of the WNIT have become events for the local basketball fan, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The NIT provided SDSU senior guard Brandon Heath a chance to add to his legacy with his game-winning three-point field goal. Now USD’s Amanda Rego, the West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Year, has her opportunity.

One of the sad states of affair for college sports is if you don’t play on a national stage, you’re considered a failure. Following a college team, instead of a diversion, becomes an obsession.

Let’s face it, preseason expectations for the Aztecs this season failed to take into account a lack of depth at guard. SDSU probably would have been a first-round exit in the NCAA tournament. Now the Aztecs are two wins away from playing in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

This group of SDSU players has taken the program thin on post-season history to back-to-back post-season trips.

USD’s women are even thinner on post-season experience than SDSU, and the the Toreros’ young team is gaining extra practice time and experience by turning on the lights at the JCP for another night.

It’s not the national stage some would prefer, but the local basketball fan appreciates it.

— TOM SHANAHAN

Thursday, March 15, 2007

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