Jan. 18, 2001
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Wyoming's basketball program hastaken another step toward national respectability with the announcement thatthe Cowboys have been invited to the 2001 Pre-Season NIT Tournament, HeadCoach Steve McClain announced Thursday.
Wyoming's appearance marks its first in what is considered one ofthe top early-season tourneys in the country. Tournament pairings and hostteams will be announced toward the end of the season, McClain said. Thefirst round is scheduled for Nov. 12, and 13, of 2001. The second round isNov.14-15 and 16, and the semin-finals and finals in New York City are setfor Nov. 21 and Nov. 23.
"This invitation shows our players and fans that the respect we arestriving for is coming," McClain."This speaks highly of our program becausethis is one of the elite tournaments. There is no question that thetradition Wyoming has with the NIT had an effect on our being in thetournament.
"I want to thank Lee (Moon) because he was instrumental in the NITpicking us to be a part of the tournament. The opportunity to get in mighthave slipped by us had he not acted quickly when a spot was open. Ourprogram is extremely appreciative of the work he did.
"I really like the level of competition we will face," McClaincontinued. "There are no average teams in this tournament. I'm happy forour fans and for our players. They are excited, and understand thehigh-profile nature of the event. There's great competition, and excellenttelevision exposure. Hopefully we will receive a home game so our greatfans can get a flavor of this tournament."
"We are really excited about it," said Athletics Director Lee Moon."I think it is a tremendous opportunity and a statement about the directionof our program. There are so many benefits for a program to be a part ofsomething like this. Hopefully we will be awarded an additional homeopportunity, and the chance to bring another quality team to Laramie. Theexposure is outstanding, and the further a program advances the morenational respectability it receives. It gives a program a great opporunityto be evaluated on a national level.
"We are extremely pleased that the NIT Committee had that kind ofrespect for Wyoming. I'm sure committee members will be watching theCowboys, and evaluating the size of our crowds for the rest of the season todetermine whether we will host a game in the tournament," Moon concluded.