Friday, March 31, 2006

South Carolina successfully defends NIT Title

South Carolina successfully defended its NIT Title beating Michigan tonight by the score of 76 64. Yes I meant to say South Carolina because I refuse to call them USC since they aren't the real USC. It's hard for me to say nice things about SC since I'm a huge Clemson fan but I've got to tip my hat to them. I'm not sure if this is a dubious record or not but they are just the second school to ever win the NIT back to back. They joined St. Johns as the only schools with that distinction. Though when St. Johns won their titles when the NIT was the only post-season tournament and not the second tier tournament the NIT is considered to be today.

But SC deserves a lot of credit. I've never seen a team get kicked to the ground get up and just dominate like they did at the end of the year. In fact to say that this season was a tale of two seasons would be quite an understatement. They finished the regular season with a record of 15-14 and won one of their last five games. But they took the SEC tournament as a new beginning and won the first three games to get to the championship only to lose to Florida by two. Looking back now maybe they should've been given some consideration by the NCAA committee for their strong finish. But maybe that snub is what they needed to re-motivate them to finish strong in the NIT. In getting to the NIT Championship game SC had to beat Western Kentucky, Florida St, Cincinnati and Louisville coached by The Rick Petino. The Louisville team was only one year removed from the Final Four. I guess it's pretty safe to say that Coach Dave Odom is off the hot seat and the chants of "fire Odom" won't be heard till next year. It seems as though Dave Odom has become the basketball equivalent to Clemson's Tommy Bowden. Every year they seem to be on the hot seat when the team is struggling but somehow they find ways to finish strong and take the bull's-eye off their chest.

But something really has to be said for this team to even be playing in the NIT this year. I see it this way. If you end up in the NIT and win or finish strong, you should take that extra playing time and experience and improve upon your season the next year. Well SC didn't do that, in fact their season was worse than last year. Granted it is always nice to win a championship in anything but it's a dubious record to win the NIT back to back. I might be in the minority on this but I view this SC season as a failure in that they didn't apply anything from last years tournament to improve this year. In the grand picture of college basketball, it is better to lose in the first round of the NCAA than to win the NIT. Let’s just hope that SC won’t be playing for a three-peat, then again as a Clemson fan I could care less


At March 31, 2006, Anonymous McKleeve said...

First off, I can't believe that a Clemson fan can be that gracious (in print) about Carolina. I agree with you on many points.

It's not USC. It's Carolina, and it always will be. Not a big deal? Try living in North Carolina where that successful school that wears Citadel Blue uses the one name moniker ad nauseum. Sure, it's fine for them to use it locally, just like we do in the Sandlapper state, but it really torques me off to hear "Carolina" used for the evil northern school, and only USC having the directional modifier appended. For goodness sake, use them both if you're not from one or the other!

Secondly, yes, the NIT is a disappointment. Yes, we expectly, rightly so, a better season. Yes, winning the NIT two years in a row is a very dubious honor. But at least we picked it up and made something out of a horribly disappointing regular season.

I've read some comments from Dave Odom recently, about his change in attitude and demeanor during the postseason, especially at practice. Sounds like he needs to learn some of those lessons and apply them to the regular season.

Oh, well, at least there's baseball. Oh, yeah, and now that Spurrier is here, there's football in the fall. Now there are a couple of coaches who learn and succeed.


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