It’s around 8 p.m. Thursday. WVUM Sports Director AJ Ricketts stands courtside in Madison Square Garden, the mecca of basketball, where Spike Lee comes to eat his feelings and think about his Knicks’ woes.
Only one hour remains until the start of Rickett’s final Hurricanes basketball broadcast: the National Invitational Tournament championship (NIT).
“We heard [the team] yelling from the locker room and we were courtside,” the senior texted me from the hardwood. “Michael Irvin just fired them up with a speech.”
Clearly, the Canes in the Big Apple were brimming with enthusiasm. But what about the students on campus?
The NIT isn’t exactly the most coveted destination for those seeking playoff glory. In fact, it’s often seen as the consolation bracket for those who didn’t qualify for the main attraction: the NCAA Tournament. If the latter is the Big Dance, then the NIT is “Crank That (Soulja Boy).”
However, at the same time, reaching the final game in a field of 32 is always impressive, especially for a young team with only one player remaining from the group that led UM to the “Sweet 16” just two years prior.
So, where does that leave us as students and fans? Should we be proud that our basketball team made it to the climax of the Florida State University of tournaments?
“I was really proud they made it all the way to New York,” said sophomore Isabella, who did not disclose her full name for fear of backlash. “They’ve gotten somewhere, which is better than doing nothing.”
That’s a valid point. I respect her mentality. Next time my parents call and ask why I’m not studying, I’ll just say: “Ma, binge watching ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ is better than doing nothing.”
But other students were not as enthusiastic.
“Someone asked what I was doing at 9 p.m. and I said I don’t know,” said Alexandra Hopkins-Slayton, a sports administration major. “I said I’d keep a lookout on Twitter.”
But it might have been hard to keep track of the tournament via social media, considering that the NCAA’s official Twitter account never tweeted about the NIT the entire week.
The NCAA did post Friday about the most recent Division I golf rankings, so maybe there was just too much breaking news to cover it.
Additionally, our football team produced a lousy 6-7 record with a team so talented that it might donate three players to the first round of the NFL draft. But our hoops squad finished with 12 games over a 0.500 win percentage – so where’s the love? One of the NIT games against Alabama was actually played on campus, and it barely yielded the number of attendees that would fill an intense fraternity-intramural game.
“People only go to the football games for the tailgates,” said another student who wished to remain anonymous. “Students just want to get drunk.”
Silly campus planners. They should have factored in alcoholic freedom as an incentive to increase attendance at the BUC. I mean, the Rat can only give out so many wristbands.
Regardless of location or tailgate opportunities, demonstrating school spirit should hold some precedence over those luxuries, even if it’s not for flagship tournaments.
Because, at the end of the day, it’s still better than doing nothing.
Danny New is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. “The Maturity Column” runs alternating Mondays.