Weber State University is now in the third round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Some see it as a small, unimportant tournament, but for WSU, it matters.
When it was announced a few weeks ago that the Wildcats would once again be playing in the CIT, some took to Twitter to complain about the Wildcats being in a lesser tournament. It was also noticeable at their first round game when many fans chose not to attend. While it may not be important to some fans, there’s no doubt it means something to the team and to the program.
I saw multiple people on Twitter bemusing the fact that WSU was resigned to play in a smaller tournament and not the National Invitational Tournament or the NCAA Tournament. At first, I was a little disappointed as well. I thought WSU deserved to be in the NIT. These thoughts were dispelled when I read a tweet from Frank Otis later that night.
Otis tweeted his gratitude and excitement of getting to play in a postseason tournament, regardless of what tournament it was.
“Thank god I get to play another game with my brothers in a Weber uniform,” Otis tweeted on March 17.
When I read that, it was clear that, to the players, this mattered. While some fans may have thought it was a rinky-dink tournament, to the players and coaches, this is important and it matters to them. When you think about it, it should matter to the university and fans as well. It would be huge for WSU to win a tournament.
It was also obvious that the team’s accomplishments mattered on Saturday night. When Scott Bamforth broke Damian Lillard’s record for most 3-pointers made, Bamforth’s teammates went wild. After a timeout was called, players went out to meet Bamforth, celebrating the record with him.
While the CIT isn’t a major tournament, it still is a tournament, and winning it would be a step forward for the Wildcat men’s basketball program. After having such a great season, it would be nice to cap it off with a tournament win. It would also be a great way to send off Bamforth and Otis. Since WSU learned they’d be in the CIT, I’ve heard head coach Randy Rahe say a few times that it would mean a lot to send those seniors out on a high note.
WSU has already experienced two important events during the tournament. Not only did Bamforth set the record for most career 3-pointers, but the Wildcats set a conference record for most wins in a season. Wednesday, they will be going for their 29th win of the year.
While this may not have been the tournament that the team and fans wanted to be in, now that WSU is in the third round of the CIT, the team is looking to make the best of it. Otis also tweeted that while this may not have been exactly what the team wanted, all they can do now is play the hand they’ve been dealt.
Saturday, the attendance was up from WSU’s opening-round game, especially in the student section. It was good to see fans coming out to the game. Hopefully the trend will continue on Wednesday night. Multiple times, I’ve heard coaches and players talk about the difference fans make at games and how they can lift the team.
On Saturday, there was a noticeable energy throughout the Dee Events Center. It was there through the entire game. It was most noticeable when Bamforth was trying to break the record and during big defensive plays when Air Force was trying to come back.
Despite the fact that a lot of fans had higher hopes and dreams of WSU being in the NIT or NCAA Tournament earlier this year, the CIT is important, and to win the tournament would be a huge accomplishment for the Wildcats.