Kennedy on NIT, Illinois State | Ole Miss Sports

Some notes from last night’s conversation with Andy Kennedy following the Rebels’ NIT invite. ..

(Leaving New Orleans did you believe there was a chance you guys would get in?)

“I was not overly optimistic. We’ve been in that situation, unfortunately, three different times where we felt like we needed one more marquee win. The hole in our resume, when you look at it objectively, is the fact that we were 1-7 vs the (RPI) top 50. That in and of itself kept us relegated to the NIT.”

(Your guys were playing hard at the end of the year. Do you think they carry that effort into the NIT after not reaching the NCAAs?)

“Starting with the LSU game, then winning at Bud Walton and at home against a very good Alabama team, I thought we did carry momentum to New Orleans, and I thought we did play hard. You put so much into it, getting to the NCAAs is the holy grail. It’s what you put as your goal, and when you don’t reach it, there’s disappointment and frustration. My hope is that once they get beyond that and see that the goal is now gone, then see what’s in front of us, the opportunity to keep playing basketball, that the competitive spirit that allowed them to get inside an SEC locker room will take over and that they will want to keep playing. We have some guys who have had the opportunity to experience getting to New York and playing in Madison Square Garden. That created a good memory, a good experience, and it’s my hope that’s something to motivate them moving forward.”

(What do you know about Illinois State?)

“I don’t know anything, really. I’ve seen them some just because I’m a basketball junkie. I saw them in the Missouri Valley final against Creighton. I didn’t watch it extensively. I know it’s a quality program. The whole Missouri Valley is an outstanding basketball conference. I know they’re playing good basketball right now to reach the finals of the conference tournament. To get to Creighton, they had to beat Wichita State, who is a 5 seed in the NCAA tournament.”

(What do you think of your NIT seeding? Is 2 where you thought you’d be?)

“I didn’t know until you see who did not get intcluded in the NCAA tournament. Everybody has a blog, and everybody has opinions, but I felt like we were probably one of nine or 10 teams fighting for the last four or five slots. I’d have thought 1 or 2, or worst case senario a 3.”