CIT offers more than what meets the eye

By now it’s pretty common knowledge what happened in the last 0.9 seconds of the men’s basketball team’s quarterfinal game against Oakland on Monday night.
Whether Oakland coach Greg Kampe liked it or not (trust me from being at the press conference after the game, he didn’t) junior Chris Roberts was able to just beat the clock and bank in a 75-foot prayer to give the Braves a 76-75 advancement into the semifinals of the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
I think the only person in the arena who was happier than Roberts after the ball went in was the Scout Sports Editor Alex Mayster, who was shocked his prophetic statement made just moments before the shot, actually came true.
“Here’s what’s going to happen,” he said with a sarcastic laugh during Oakland’s time out with 3.3 seconds remaining in the game. “Oakland is going to score and then Chris Roberts is going to drain a shot from three-quarters court for the win.”
Those were his exact words. I’m not making that up.
Since that game, I have probably watched the replay of that shot a dozen times and sent it to every single basketball fan I know, often receiving a variation of the same response.
“Wow, that’s an incredible shot. Too bad it was in some made-up tournament.”
But is the CIT really something to be disregarded and pushed aside?
On one hand, who wants to boast about competing to be the 98th best team in the country in a tournament that is fairly far down the preseason list of games you want to be playing in come March?
But after watching the last three games of the CIT, I can honestly say I not only understand, but agree with Bradley’s decision to take part in this tournament.
True, the crowds of 4,472, 5,007 and 6,114 are well below the average attendance of 10,019 enjoyed during the regular season at Carver.
And true, Bradley did have to pay a considerable amount of money to enter the tournament (a little less than $30,000, Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh said).
Obviously, it’s no team’s goal to end up in the CIT. But, when you aren’t on the guest list for the big dance and your number isn’t called for the NIT either, that doesn’t mean you should just throw away a chance to extend your season.
There are the typical cliché reasons that go along with entering a tournament like this – getting the seniors some more minutes and giving the young guys a chance to experience tournament play (even though Taylor Brown seems to be the only reserve receiving an increased role). But there are still other reasons the CIT is a good fit for Bradley.
First, let’s look at the College Basketball Invitational, Bradley’s other option for postseason play, and the avenue it decided to take last year.
The CBI costs twice as much and offers half the talent of the CIT.
Among the teams accepting bids to the CBI are two teams with losing records and the Valley’s Wichita State, who finished 16-16.
By entering the CIT, Bradley was able to get a look at a talented Oakland team (23-12 coming into the quarterfinals), who coach Jim Les said after the game could be considered as a possible regular-season opponent in the future. 
Playing Oakland also gave us a chance to see players such as Johnathon Jones (the nation’s assist leader) and sharpshooter Erik Kangas (fourth place in the country in 3-pointers made and a scheduled participant in the NCAA 3-point competition), who we may otherwise never have thought twice about.
The other big reason for Bradley to jump at the invite to the CIT was the fact that the Braves received the top-seed and were guaranteed home court advantage throughout the tournament.
In a town where Bradley basketball is the high point of winter entertainment, I don’t understand why many fans are ridiculing not only the idea of bonus basketball, but bonus basketball right here in Peoria.
Now, I won’t really take much stock in the fact that this marks Bradley’s fourth straight postseason appearance because that stat has been cheapened by the fact that 129 teams are now selected to play extra ball after their regular seasons.
All I’m saying is why not play in the CIT?
The only downside of the tournament so far is having to endure Mayster’s constant boasting about his impeccable psychic abilities.
I can deal with that, I guess.
D.J. Piehowski is a junior journalism major from Genoa. He is the Scout assistant sports editor.
Direct questions, comments and other responses to dpiehowski@mail.bradley.edu.