William & Mary

Tribe takes on Tulsa Tuesday in NIT

  • A key cog
    A key cog  Terry Tarpey will have to play well if the Tribe is going to defeat Tulsa in the first round of the NIT Tuesday night in Oklahoma.  Photo courtesy Tribe Athletics
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There was an obvious sense of anticipation Sunday night as the William & Mary men’s basketball team sat with more than 100 supporters and watched the field for the National Invitation Tournament unfold on ESPNU.

As matchups were announced, and schools in warm-weather locations such as Miami were assigned to host teams other than the Tribe, the players would collectively groan.

“Some of it was just spoofing,” guard Marcus Thornton said after seventh-seeded W&M was awarded a game at second-seeded Tulsa Tuesday night at 8 (EST). “But there were a couple of places we said we wouldn’t mind going.”

The Tribe coaches immediately began tracking down video of the Golden Hurricane’s last three games, and looking for coaches outside of Tulsa’s American Athletic Conference they could tap for added information.

{{youtube:medium:center|FxGcFCxlZT8, Tony Shaver talks about the NIT}}

Meanwhile, other members of the athletic department began pursuing transportation arrangements to get the Tribe out to Oklahoma, preferably in time for a Monday practice.

Daunting as it sounds to mix long-distance travel, practice, game-planning sessions, and a bit of “down” time, coach Tony Shaver welcomed the opportunity to continue watching this team compete on a national stage. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

The university will host a public watch party for the game tomorrow night in the Berkeley Room, Mason School of business. Snacks will be provided, with a cash bar. The party starts at 7:30.

“This has been a great basketball team, a lot of fun to coach, and a lot of fun to watch play,” Shaver told the crowd at Commonwealth Auditorium. “Sometimes, I get mesmerized watching from the sideline at what they can do sometimes.

“As these guys were saying today, ‘It’s pretty nice to be practicing in mid-March.’”

Tulsa finished second in the American Athletic Conference this season at 14-4 and advanced to the semifinals of the league tournament. The Golden Hurricane posted a 22-10 record and will play in its 11th NIT. W&M and Tulsa have met on just one previous occasion, with the Golden Hurricane downing the Tribe, 79-60, as part of the First Tulsa Classic in 1986.

The winner of the Tribe-Golden Hurricane matchup will take on the winner of No. 3 seed Murray State and No. 6 seed UTEP. The NIT second round will be on either March 20, 21, 22 or 23. The NIT quarterfinals are set for March 24 and 25 with the semifinals to follow in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, March 31. The NIT championship game will be on Thursday, April 2.

All 2015 NIT games will also include two experimental rules.  Teams will compete using a 30-second shot clock instead of the current 35-second shot clock. The 31 games of the NIT will also have a four-foot restricted-area arc under the basket as opposed to the current three-foot arc.