|Fan Voice: Wrapping up the school year|
|Written by Todd Marver, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Thursday, 03 May 2012 16:23|
While many college teams had already put their playing gear away for the season, two Redbird squads were faced with the luxury of watching playoff selection shows this season as potential candidates to be picked. But each team faced very different emotions from one another on selection day.
ISU men’s basketball experienced joy during the National Invitational Tournament selection show in March, as it earned a bid to the competition with previous uncertainty if the Redbirds would be selected.
While their end of the year run was impressive, there was some doubt as to if their entire body of work would be enough to avoid competing in pay-to-play tournaments such as the College Basketball Invitational or the CollegeInsider.com tournament.
The ’Birds finished the regular season with a 9-9 mark in conference, good for a five-way tie for third place. The Redbirds struggled on the road with a 4-9 record, but played like a different team at home with a 14-3 record. It appears ISU’s dominance at Redbird Arena and a strong MVC tournament run, including a victory over No. 14 Wichita State, was enough to propel the Redbirds into the NIT.
It was great to see students who had not previously shown a strong interest in ISU basketball jump on the bandwagon when the Redbirds upset the Shockers in the MVC tournament semifinals.
Even though we lost, I enjoyed the opportunity to ride the fan bus to watch ISU play Creighton in the conference tournament title game in Saint Louis, Mo., because you never know how often that chance will come around to be playing with an NCAA tournament berth on the line. Watching the two Redbird basketball NIT contests against Mississippi and Stanford on national television was very special because it is not often that our school gets that kind of exposure.
On the other hand, the ISU football team experienced sorrow during the Football Championship Subdivision selection show in November. The Redbirds were not selected despite sitting all alone in the third place in the 2011 Missouri Valley Football Conference standings. Three MVFC schools (Northern Iowa, Western Illinois, and North Dakota State) qualified for the FCS playoffs in 2010.
Despite not continuing play past their last regular season contest, the Redbirds had nothing to hang their head about as the squad went on a five-game winning streak from Oct. 8 to Nov. 5.
While all of ISU’s losses were equally painful with 10-point margins or less, the week 1 defeat at Eastern Illinois sticks out the most to me because the game was the most winnable out of all the four losses. The Panthers concluded the season with a 2-9 mark, including 1-7 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
I am sure the 2011 FCS playoffs snub still stings for the Redbirds and it will motivate them even more to be successful this season and come back stronger than ever.
There is a lot to be excited about in Redbird Country and the future looks bright for both the men’s basketball and football squads. Redbird football gave fans something to be excited about with its performance at the Red-White Scrimmage April 28. The squad is headed by fourth-year starting quarterback Matt Brown and looking to come back and make the playoffs after a near-miss in 2011.
The ISU men’s basketball team returns every member of this year’s team on next year’s squad minus juniors Trey Blue and Darious Clark who have recently transferred out of the program. There is some uncertainty because former ISU head coach Tim Jankovich recently left the program to take a coach-in-waiting position at Southern Methodist University.
But assuming the core of our players stay in the Redbird program once a new coach is hired, expectations for ISU men’s basketball in 2012-2013 will be sky-high. Come check out the Redbird football squad in action Sept. 1 against Dayton at Hancock Stadium and ISU men’s basketball is set to host its first public event of the season at Hoopfest on Oct. 12.