LA Tech to Host Iona in First Round of NIT

March 16, 2014

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RUSTON - With the 2014 National Invitation Tournament field and pairings announced today, Louisiana Tech was given a No. 3 seed and will host sixth-seeded Iona inside the Thomas Assembly Center on Wednesday, March 19 at 6:30 p.m. CT in a game that will be broadcast live on ESPN3.

This marks the second straight year that the Bulldogs earned an automatic bid into the NIT by finishing first in their conference. This will also be only the fourth time that LA Tech was hosted an NIT game, the last one coming in 2002.

Last season, LA Tech (27-7) upended Florida State, 71-66, in Tallahassee, Fla. before falling at Southern Miss in the second round. The Bulldogs are 8-7 all-time in NIT games and a perfect 3-0 at home.

The NIT consists of 32 teams and the `Dogs will be in the same bracket as No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 Georgia, No. 4 Georgetown, No. 5 West Virginia, No. 7 Vermont and No. 8 Florida Gulf Coast.

Iona (22-10) also earned an automatic bid into the postseason tournament, winning the MAAC regular season title.

The Gaels feature one of the highest scoring offenses in the country, averaging 83.5 points per game with five players averaging in double figures.

These two programs have met only once on the hardwood and that was on Jan. 2, 1986 in East Rutherford, N.J. The Bulldogs came away with an 84-54 victory.

Tickets will be $15 for 100 level seats, $10 for general admission and free for the first 1,000 students thanks to private support. Students can reserve their seat for the game by presenting a valid student I.D. at the ticket office on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Tech Ticket office will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday and normal hours thereafter.

Reserve season ticket holders' can purchase their same seats until 2 p.m. on Monday. Kids club passes cannot be honored for entry into the game per NIT rules.

The contest will be broadcast live on the LA Tech Sports Network on KXKZ 107.5 FM (Ruston) with the pregame show beginning at 6 p.m. CT. The "Voice of the Bulldogs" Dave Nitz will call the play-by-play with Jack Thigpen providing analysis. Fans can also access live audio of the game via the Internet by subscribing to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com.

Twitter users can also receive live in-game updates by following @LATechHoops.

For complete coverage of Bulldog Basketball, please follow @LATechHoops on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.

QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH Michael White:

Opening:

"It is an emotional time. There has been a lot of sleep deprivation for the staff and the players. It is kind of a fog more than anything. Looking back to El Paso, it seems like we were there just a few hours ago, but it also seems like we were there a few months ago. It was a great run, obviously not the best way to finish it. We did not achieve the ultimate goal which is very disappointing. We said before the season that if we did not make the tournament with this team we would be disappointed and we are. I am still proud of the accomplishments. There are a lot of teams nationally that are disappointed to not be in the tournament. There are a lot of good teams that did not make the NIT. We can be proud of that and especially the fact we are a host and get to play one more time in front of our fans. A little bit of a disappointing time but still an exciting time."

Two Consecutive Post Season Tournaments:

"Last year our win in Tallahassee was a big part of the recruiting pitch for us, in that we had success against a national name, in a national post season with some prestige. To host and do it again two years in a row is nice to add to the resume in terms of recruiting and in terms of just building this program. Just counting the number of accomplishments these guys have achieved is pretty neat. Now the new goal for us to find our way to New York City.

Regrouping after Conference Tournament:

"We have a great group of guys. We just met for probably an hour and a half in the film room. We watched film on Tulsa, the good, the bad, the offense, the defense and really broke down why we did not have success. It is not that we did everything wrong; Tulsa did a lot right. There were a bunch of areas that we could have been better in. After, we moved along to the NIT and the NIT show and we talked briefly about Iona. I want our guys to go get a long night of sleep, get back focused on academics and then tomorrow we will come in and watch film on Iona for the first time and try to have a great practice. We are going to turn over a new leaf. I expect our guys to have good focus and to know that it is not over. The NCAA tournament is not there, but the NIT is to be expected. We need to take advantage of the opportunity that is in front of us."

Conference USA 1 Bid League:

"It is hard for me to fight too much for us and other schools in our league when I do not want to say we should have been in and Southern Miss should have been in, because I am not going to name who should be out. I just think there are several deserving teams. I really thought we should be in the conversation and we were. There are some things we could have done better. If we had won at East Carolina, maybe we are in. If had beaten Southern Miss on the road, maybe we are in. Southern Miss can probably say the same thing; maybe if they had beaten us in the tournament we would have gotten two teams in. I cannot tell you we should have been a multi bid league, but I promise you we had five or six other teams that would have been competitive in the NCAA Tournament in the first round regardless of who they were matched up with. Five or six teams in Conference USA could have been competitive; it is a very good league."

Scheduling in the Future:

"I did a poor job; our strength of schedule is not what it should be. There are certain loopholes or tricks, I maybe should have scheduled another division two opponent instead of one of the really low level division ones that dropped our RPI and dropped our strength of schedule. We went from one guarantee to three guarantee games and I thought our number would be significantly higher than it was last year and it was not. That being said, if we win a couple more we are not having this discussion. Scheduling is very difficult for us and for most teams. We have had a lot of success here at home and that makes it more difficult to get quality opponents to come to Ruston. We will continue to have those challenges, but we will continue to work on it as well. We are not going to blame other people, I have to do a better job and we have to do a better job as a program to try and increase our numbers, while at the same time trying to tally wins. We are going to continue to recruit and player develop and so on."

Changes for the short term:

"We still have five or six game slots that are open. Your league is what it is and we are locked into a few contracts already. Again, it is difficult; I could talk about scheduling for an hour. We would go full circle, come right back here and not get anywhere. I am not trying to make excuses, it is on me. There are three or four opponents on our schedule this year that had disappointing seasons. I am not going to mention any schools, but you look at it and say `wow they had a tough record.' That was not what we anticipated. Those things are impossible to anticipate. We had some 300 RPI teams that could cost us. Again, we cost ourselves with some opportunities that we did not take advantage of. We could have had the same outcome in every game but won at St. Mary's and be in the tournament. A lot of it is scheduling and a lot of it is performance."

Being a Mid-Major:

"I think there are some unbelievably well-funded mid majors that can buy their way into 8-0. We are obviously building. We are realistic in that we have to play a lot of home and home games. We have to be bought two or three times. It is what it is and we are doing the best with what we have. We are proud with what we have accomplished. I think we are one of the best 68 teams in the country. Can I sit here and say that we definitely should have been in? No, I cannot say that because I do not want to slight anyone else. I am proud of this team, we are a very good team and hopefully we can show that against a very good Iona team on Wednesday night."

Learning from NIT last year:

"Taking advantage of the opportunity would be first and foremost. We had a great performance at Florida State which was a big win for this program. Iona is not that national name, but we know as a staff that they are a terrific program that has another terrific team, as they did last year. By Wednesday I assure that our guys will be familiar with their program and their team. We will do our best to try and do well against them and advance. I know they will be prepared. If we can advance and continue to advance it will place feathers in our cap. Every win in the post season would be big for this program."

 

 

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