Wojcik: Tulsa's NIT Candidacy is "Strong"

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:16 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Mar 12, 2011 3:25 PM CDT

Bobby Lewis
Oklahoma Sports Reporter

TULSA, Oklahoma – Tulsa has to wait until Sunday to find out if it will be playing in any postseason tournaments. After finishing the regular season with a 66-54 loss to the UTEP Miners in the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament, the Golden Hurricane’s leader quickly lobbied to get his club in the NIT.

“I think our candidacy for the NIT is strong,” said head coach Doug Wojcik during his postgame press conference. “I don’t have a vote, but I think the four teams that make it in the semifinals in Conference USA deserve it in the NIT.”

Tulsa, UTEP, Memphis and East Carolina were the last four standing in the league. The Tigers beat the hometown Miners to claim the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The NIT is less prestigious. It doesn’t crown a national champion, but is considered a competitive tournament. Tulsa has competed in the NIT ten times and won the entire thing in 1981.

The team’s resume is good enough to get in in the eyes of its coach.

“We have 8 of our 12 teams in the top 100 RPI. We did not play any non-Division I teams,” Wojcik explained. “We have 19 wins. We’re the only team in Conference USA the last four years to get to the semifinals (of the league tournament each year).”

Tulsa has made the NIT in two straight seasons but has hasn’t fared well. The team beat Northwestern in the first round before falling to Auburn. Last season the Golden Hurricane lost to Kent State 75-74 in the first round of the tournament.

Wojcik thinks the difficult schedule the team played this year will help push his team into the postseason tournament again.

“I think it goes back to who you play and who you’re willing to play,” he said. “We go to Wichita. We go to UNLV. We play Oklahoma State.”

Tulsa finished the season with a 19-13 record. Including the conference tournament, Tulsa won 12 of its 18 conference games.