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Second season about to tip off for men's basketball

  • We're still playing
    We're still playing  The men's basketball team will open play in the NIT next week. Join the Tribe for the watch party Sunday and learn their first-round opponent.  Photo courtesy Tribe Athletics
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The hangover from Monday night’s loss in the Colonial Athletic Association title game may have left the impression that the basketball season was over for the William & Mary men.

It’s not. There’s more on the horizon.

By winning the CAA regular-season crown for the first time in school history, the Tribe (20-12) will receive an automatic bid to the National Invitation Tournament.Coach Tony Shaver

Sunday night at 8:30, the Tribe will gather in the Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium to find out who they will play, and when, in the first round. Fans are invited to join the team for the NIT Selection Show watch party at the Commonwealth Auditorium of the Sadler Center on campus.

It will be the university’s third appearance in the tournament, the last one coming in 2010 when W&M traveled to the University of North Carolina.

First-round games will be played on Tuesday, March 17, and Wednesday, March 18. Second-round games are set for March 20-23, with the quarterfinals to follow on March 24-25. The NIT semifinals and championship will be March 31 and April 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Tickets for the Tribe’s first-round game will be available through the W&M ticket office, beginning Monday morning at 10. For more information, call (757) 221-3340.

From here on out, every game the Tribe plays could be the last of CAA player of the year Marcus Thornton’s career. The university’s all-time leading scorer with 2,155 points, Thornton brought to life a conversation he had with coach Tony Shaver four years ago during the guard’s recruiting visit.Marcus Thornton

“He and I stood in the gym, Kaplan Arena, and (I said), ‘I think you’re good enough to help us put a banner up in this place,’” Shaver recalled. “And he did. For the first time in our history we’ll put up a regular-season championship banner. We didn’t get the one we wanted (Monday night), but we fought for that one.

“The best part of his legacy is that he’s helped take our program to a new level. He’s done it unselfishly. He’s done it with a great work ethic, and I’m really proud of what he’s done.”

Shaver’s disappointment was palpable after the loss to Northeastern, but that didn’t keep him from putting the school’s second consecutive 20-victory season in perspective.

“I’m very proud of this team, this season,” he said. “Who would have thought last year, walking out of (Royal Farms Arena after dropping the title game), losing six seniors, that we would be back in this game with a chance to win it. Or that we’d win 20 games back-to-back years at William & Mary, that we’d put up a regular-season banner, that we’d be going to a prestigious national tournament in the NIT. I’m very proud of them.

“What a great reward for this team.”