HPU men still hope for postseason tournament berth
Disappointed about sitting at home Saturday instead of playing in the semifinal round of the Big South tournament, HPU men’s coach Scott Cherry was hopeful that the Panthers’ season is not over.
Cherry pondered the possibility of HPU receiving the Big South’s NIT bid and said that the school had been talking to the 16-team College Basketball Invitational and the 32-team Collegeinsider.com tournament in recent week.
Brackets for the CBI and the Collegeinsider will be determined March 17 after the NCAA and 32-team NIT fields are set. Play in the CBI, CIT and NIT start March 19.
Cherry said the school was not certain that it would receive a bid to the NIT as the team with the best Big South record remaining if South division champ Charleston Southern wins the Big South tournament today. HPU and CSU tied for the best Big South record at 12-4. CSU will be the league’s automatic qualifier if it does not win today.
Cherry said the school hasn’t talked to the CBI or the Collegeinsider in a couple of weeks. The Panthers dropped to 17-14 when they lost to Liberty in the Big South quarterfinals on Thursday. The loss was the Panthers’ second in the three games since leading scorer John Brown broke a bone in his foot.
“We talked to the CBI and CIT before John was hurt,” Cherry said. “So, I don’t know if they take injuries into consideration like the NCAA does.”
Cherry feels that the Panthers have a 50-50 chance to get a bid.
“I’m optimistic,” Cherry said. “But we’ll just have to see how everything plays out with all the conference tournaments and who goes to the NCAA Tournament and then how many teams from the power 6 conferences and the mid-majors decide that they don’t want to go to the CBI or the CIT.
“If we do get a bid, we most likely would be on the road. So one factor might be, once they set the home teams, are we close to one of those teams so there won’t be a lot of travel costs.”
To be prepared for playing another game, Cherry said the team will workout this week.
“We’ll keep it simple,” Cherry said. “It won’t be full-blown practices. We’ll just have some fun. But, we want to be ready because we may find out on Sunday that we’re going to be travelling on Monday to play Tuesday.
“I would really like to coach these guys 1,2,3 or 4 more games after the season we’ve had. And whatever extra game experience we get will make us that much better for next year.”
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