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Preseason NIT Basketball Tournament




| 2006-07 will post info about the 2006 preseason NIT around November 20, 2006.

Below is the 2004 preseason NIT.

NEW YORK CITY - Over the course of the two day tournament fans were treated to four good games. Oh, a half here or there might have reminded us that it is early season. Regardless, the play and intensity, especially in the final, hinted of contests staged in March as opposed to Thanksgiving.

The scores : SEMIS Wake Forest 79 Providence 67
Arizona 61 Michigan 60 (OT)
CONS. Providence 72 Michigan 63
FINAL Wake Forest 63 Arizona 60

Wake Forest came in number one and held on to that ranking by defeating Providence in the semis and Arizona in the final. The final literally went down to the final second. Arizona trailed by one with seconds remaining. Wildcat guard tried to shake Taron Downey but had to settle for a contested jumper just past the foul line. Eric Williams grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 1.2 seconds to go. Williams canned both free throws to give Wake a three point advantage. Arizona then inbounded and threw a long pass that guard Hassan Adams gathered and immediately launched. His shot was close but unsuccessful and Wake Forest earned the championship.

Arizona is a team that traditionally is effective in transition and limits mistakes. Watching the Wildcats’ performance in the Pre-Season NIT semifinal game against Michigan it was evident that they are a work in progress. Poor shot selection, lack of continuity on offense and being generally out of synch were their main faults. Only their athleticism and ability to rebound the ball offensively kept them spared from the consolation game.

Lute Olsen’s club looked a lot better two nights later. In addition they showed great resiliency. After leading number one Wake Forest most of the way , Arizona fell behind following an explosive Wake run midway through the second half. Arizona quickly regrouped and essentially battled the Demon Deacons to the buzzer.

Wake Forest did not have a particularly outstanding tournament from highly regarded lead guard Chris Paul. To the credit of Skip Prosser’s club, they emerged from the Garden as champions. Paul’s running mate Justin Gray scored a game high 21 points in the championship game and earned the honor of Outstanding Player of the tournament. Eric Williams a wide body is a strong inside player who can rebound and defend. The 6-8 junior has to work on finishing in the post to add to his effectiveness. Downey is an underrated guard who does an outstanding job defending. He forced Arizona’s Mustafa into a 1 of 12 shooting night. Jamaal Levy a 6-8 senior forward is in Prosser’s estimation, “perhaps our most essential piece of the puzzle.” The slender Levy had an eight point 12 rebound outing against Arizona. Simply, Wake Forest has a number of options and weapons in its arsenal. Deacons showed an enviable combination of poise and explosiveness. They rallied from an eleven point early second half deficit against Arizona by virtue of a defensive effort that ignited the transition game. Wake also refused to panic despite a slow start and trailing most of the contest.

Michigan almost made the final yet left New York with two losses. Wolverines have some size inside but the big men are still raw. Tommy Amaker’s club needs contributions from the Daniel Horton - Dion Harris backcourt. Michigan lost a heartbreaker in overtime to Arizona in the semis. Amaker was worried the disappointment over the loss might carry over into the consolation. His fears were realized. Michigan started strong in the third place game yet, when Providence stepped up and made their challenge. Michigan folded.

As Providence entered the semis everyone was familiar with Ryan Gomes and Donnie McGrath. By the end of the Pre-Season NIT the name of mention when discussing Tim Welsh’s club was Dwight Brewington. The sophomore guard showed the ability to hit the three pointer and slash going to the basket. Providence thrives on scraping and working. As Welsh says, “we are basically three guards and two small forward.” Gomes at 6-7 has improved his defense and ability to take defenders off the dribble. The usually dependable McGrath struggled in his two days in New York. When he’s back on track at the guard spot, the Friars will be even tougher to handle. Assistant coaches play a prominent part in the recruiting process. These invaluable members of the coaching staff also perform important tasks during the regular season. Such as scouting and game preparation.

During the Wake Forest - Providence semifinal game. Arizona assistants Rodney Tention, Jim Rosborough and Josh Pastner were seated at the press table. Before the Arizona plane landed in New York for this tournament, the staff knew a great deal about their semifinal opponent Michigan as well as their potential opponent on Friday, Providence or Wake Forest. Still, any extra edge you can get is helpful. As Tention noted game tapes have been broken down but, “watching in person gives you a different perspective. You see how kids react to certain situations, you pick up things in person you can’t see on tape.” The Arizona assistants watch and jot down notes. Rosborough notes out loud how Wake initiates the offense with a screen. Tention makes a few notes. Overall the Arizona assistants are doing more observing and think out loud than writing. Tention says that, ‘you want to run against Wake Forest. Let them go half court and they’ll pound you.” Rosborough and Tention agree, “Providence is tough and very active on defense.” Tention adds that ,” Gomes is tough inside but Brewington gives them another dimension.”

With about 10 minutes remaining in the Wake-PC semi, the three Arizona assistants head to the locker room. They will assist head coach Lute Olsen with final game preparations for Michigan. Tention has already said that following the semifinal game with Michigan he will head back to his hotel room and break down the tape of the Wake Forest Providence semi. “I’ll watch it twice tonight,” he says. “It will be a late night.” And you thought the life of a college assistant was all glamour.


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