Whether it’s to give older players a final round of applause or allow a young team the chance to grow, coaches for Seton Hall and Colorado both say they’re “excited” to participate in the National Invitation Tournament.
The 17-win teams will meet Tuesday night in Boulder, Colo., with Colorado entering the contest as a No. 3 seed.
Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle talked about “an opportunity for young players to grow and continue to develop.”
“I look at Xavier, who won (the NIT) last year, and now they’re a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament (this season). And they’ve got a lot of the players they had on that team back. I’m excited that we’re in it.”
Colorado (17-16) finished eighth in the Pac-12 during the regular season, then, without its second-leading scorer, lost 80-69 to powerhouse UCLA in the quarterfinals of the conference tourney.
Seton Hall coach Shaheen Holloway is also enthusiastic, although wary of making the trip from New Jersey to Colorado on a day’s notice.
“We’re excited to keep playing for the seniors and all of us. It’s a blessing to lace them up and let these guys showcase their talent on a different stage, in front of a different audience,” Holloway told the Asbury Park Press.
“In a perfect world, if they’re going to send us there, they’d let us play Wednesday so we have a day to get used to the altitude. This is not going to be an easy trip.”
The Pirates (17-15) finished the regular season tied for sixth in the Big East, then fell 66-65 to DePaul in the first round of the conference tournament.
Seton Hall’s top two scorers are seniors, although only 2.9 points per game separate leading scorer Al-Amir Dawes and fourth-best scorer Dre Davis.
In his first season at Seton Hall after three at Clemson, Dawes, a Newark, N.J., native, is averaging 12.6 points. Forward Tyrese Samuel finished at 10.9 points on 55.5 percent shooting from the floor and added 5.8 rebounds per game.
Colorado’s scoring load is more top-heavy. Junior forward Tristan da Silva averaged 16.0 points, easily a career high, and 4.9 rebounds. He has made 50.6 percent of his shots from the field, including 40.2 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Sophomore guard KJ Simpson was right behind da Silva at 15.9 points and 4.3 boards per game. However, he missed the Buffaloes’ past three games with mononucleosis and was to be reevaluated on Monday.
–Field Level Media