HED:Bulldogs say snub won’t hinder NIT play
By Parrish Alford
If he’s been anything in his first season as basketball coach at Mississippi State, Rick Stansbury has been positive.
But it’s taking all the positive vibes Stansbury can muster to get over the snub of his Bulldogs by the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Still, Stansbury is focusing on the positive as his team prepares for a first round National Invitation Tournament game at Colorado State Wednesday.
The sting, however, didn’t stop with the selection committee. It was reinforced when the NIT folks sent State on the road to play the sixth-place team in the Western Athletic Conference’s Mountain Division.
If State wins, it will face the Colorado-Pepperdine winner in the second round.
“There are a lot of positives we can take from this, and that’s the only way we’re looking at it – posititve,” Stansbury said.
“We’re all disappointed that we did not get into the NCAA tournanment. We felt like we earned the opportunity. It’s been well documented that we won 20 games in one of the best leagues in America. No one in our league won more games down the stretch except Tennessee and Auburn.
“Yes, we’re disappointed, and it’s unfortunate the way things turned out. We got knocked down, but we’ll get back up. They (NCAA selection committee) knocked us down, but not out.”
The task facing Stansbury now is getting his team to overcome its disappointment and play well on the road against a quality opponent.
“We’re very surprised to be going on the road to play the sixth-place team in the WAC, but this is Mississippi State and we get dissed all the time,” backup point guard Todd Myles said. “Chris Fowler and Digger Phelps, those (ESPN) guys killed us. They gave us no hope.”
Myles says the hurt will be overcome, and the Bulldogs – the ones who won twice in Atlanta and nearly advanced to the SEC Tournament championship game – will show up against Colorado State.
“We’ve got to go win it and regroup for next year,” Myles said. “We’ve got games left, and we’ve got to try and win the NIT now. You may not always get (to buy) the car you want, but there are other cars out there.
“We’ll play a tougher schedule next year and try to get the RPI up, but the biggest thing we have to do now is remain positive and focused. We’ve got to lace ‘em up and get ready for Colorado State.”