K-State Earns First Trip to Postseason Since 1999

By: From: KSU Sports Information
By: From: KSU Sports Information

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Kansas State men’s basketball team was rewarded for its successful 2006-07 season on Sunday night, as the Wildcats earned their first trip to the postseason since 1999 with an at-large selection to the MasterCard NIT.

Kansas State (22-11, 10-6 Big 12) was selected as a No. 2 seed in the West Region and will play host to the No. 7 seed Vermont (25-7, 15-1) on Wednesday, March 14 at Bramlage Coliseum beginning at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU. The winner of the game will advance to play either No. 3 DePaul (18-13, 9-7 Big East) or No. 6 Hofstra (22-9, 14-4 Colonial) on the higher-seed’s home court on Monday, March 19. Other match-ups in the region include No. 1 seed Air Force (23-8) hosting No. 8 Austin Peay (21-11) and No. 4 Georgia (18-13) hosting No. 5 Fresno State (22-9). The winners of the four regionals will advance to Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 27-29.

Kansas State is making its 28th appearance in the postseason, including its sixth in the NIT. It is the first postseason of any kind since the Wildcats dropped a 72-71 decision to TCU in the 1999 NIT at Bramlage Coliseum. The program has posted a 4-6 all-time record in NIT play, including a 4-1 mark in games played at home. K-State made its most successful trip to the NIT in 1994, where the Wildcats defeated Mississippi State, Gonzaga and Fresno State en route to advancing to the Final Four. The Wildcats lost to Vanderbilt in the semifinals and Siena in the third-place game.

Vermont enters Wednesday’s game with a 25-7 overall record and the regular season championship of the America East Conference with a 15-1 mark. The Catamounts have won 22 of their last 25 games, including a 13-game winning streak from Jan. 21 to March 4, before losing the tournament championship to No. 2 seed Albany on March 10. The team earned one of its most impressive wins of the season in a 77-63 road victory over Boston College on Nov. 13, while they dropped tough decisions at Maryland (81-63) on Nov. 8 and at Michigan State (66-46) on Nov. 21. Vermont went an impressive 13-3 on the road this season, including a perfect 8-0 mark in conference play. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Wildcats and Catamounts as well as the first with any team from the America East Conference.

With Kansas State’s 2007 berth, head coach Bob Huggins has now guided 18 consecutive teams to the postseason (1988-89 at Akron; 1989-2005 at Cincinnati; 2007 at Kansas State). Overall, Huggins has now led programs to the postseason in 20 of his 22 years as a Division I head coach. This will be his fifth trip to the NIT and first since taking Cincinnati to the second round in 1991.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Bob Huggins, Kansas State has posted its highest win total (22) since the Mitch Richmond-led Wildcats earned 25 en route to the Elite Eight in 1988. The Wildcats also posted 10 conference wins for the first time in the Big 12 era and for the first time since the 1987-88 squad tallied 11 in the Big Eight. The 22 wins are the most by a first-year coach in school history, while Huggins is just third first-year coach (joining Kansas’ Bill Self and Texas Tech’s Bob Knight) in the Big 12 era to guide a team to both a 20-win and 10-win conference season.

NIT Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Bob Huggins

On not getting selected to the NCAA Tournament…

“That’s life. You get knocked down and you get back up. There were a couple teams that came up that I thought probably put us in jeopardy.”

On Texas Tech getting into the tournament…

“I was happy for them. Happy for them, happy for our league.”

On his thoughts of some other teams that made the tournament…

“I don’t want to get into all that, it serves no purpose. I heard Lou Holtz say one time Billy Ray Smith wasn’t a good player because he didn’t get knocked down, he was a good player because he didn’t stay down. He got up, took the shortest route to the ball carrier and arrived there in a bad mood. I think that’s how you’ve got to approach things.”

On winning more than 20 games overall and 10 games in the conference and not being selected…

“What it says is we need to win more games.”

On any moments he thinks the team could have taken advantage of to better their chances this season…

“There were 11 of them.”

On whether or not the selection committee showed the Big 12 Conference enough respect…

“We just sat in there and watched, and a couple of those guys had two Big 12 teams in the Final Four. That’s a lot of respect.”

On things they could have done better to make the NCAA Tournament…

“I learned a long time ago, don’t depend on others. These guys will tell you that’s what I’ve told them from day one. You don’t ever want to leave it in anyone else’s hands. It was in our hands and apparently we needed to do more. In the future we plan on doing a whole lot more.”

On the inherited weak non-conference schedule…

“I’m never going to buyout a game. We very well could have won some of those games and didn’t win them. It wasn’t anybody else’s fault.”

On his message to his team after the disappointment…

“That’s life. They’re going to get knocked down a couple more times, if they’re lucky – most people get knocked down a whole lot more than a couple. You’ve got to get up and go on. Life is not as easy as everyone wants to make it out to be. You see people go through hardships all the time. It’s not what happens to us, it’s how we respond to it. We need to respond to it in a fashion becoming of what we all want Kansas State basketball to stand for.”

On the opportunity to play in the NIT Tournament…

“I’m happy for these guys that they get to keep playing. That’s what it’s about this time of year. There are a whole lot of folks that aren’t playing. We get to continue to go on and play and if you get to play in Madison Square Garden, that’s a heck of a deal. Madison Square Garden, to basketball players, is the Mecca of basketball. We’d all be lying if we sat here and told you we weren’t disappointed, we are. We got knocked down; we’ve got to get back up.”

On getting the team’s spirit back up in time for Wednesday’s game…

“I don’t think I’ll have a problem. We lost 11 times and we came back and played. That’s the great thing about athletics that a lot of you don’t get to experience – you get beat and you can’t imagine what these guys felt like in the locker room, what we all felt like in the locker room. The next day you get to go to practice and have the opportunity to change it for the better. ”

On what he knows about Vermont…

“Call me in about an hour and I’ll be able to tell you. I’m good; I’m not that good.”

Senior Forward Cartier Martin

On not getting selected to the NCAA Tournament in his career…

“It’s disappointing not being able to get a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. (We got selected to the NIT Tournament) and we’re just going to try to win this one.”

On the NIT bid…

“We just have to keep our heads up and keep fighting. We’ve still got something to play for. We’re going to put all we can into this tournament and come out on top.”

His excitement on playing again…

“It’ll definitely be exciting to get a chance to play in our home arena again and get a chance to see these fans a couple of more times. This is a great place and I’m happy that I’ve been a part of it.”

Junior Forward David Hoskins

On the chance to play in New York City…

“That’s what we’re looking forward to. We got a high seed in the NIT Tournament so we’re lucky to play some games here at home and hopefully if it turns out like we expect it to, we’ll be playing in Madison Square Garden.”

On his disappointment level…

“I’m as disappointed as anybody else on the team. We’ve got to respond and come back and play in this NIT and give this all we’ve got.”

On watching the decision…

“I didn’t give up. We sat there and watched the whole thing. Of course we’re going to be optimistic; we thought we were going to be called until the last team. We weren’t. It wasn’t like there was anybody throwing chairs. It was just disappointment on the face of everybody.”


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