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Husky Men's Basketball

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March 12, 2007 at 5:01 PM

Newton speaks

I got a hold of C.M. Newton, the chair of the NIT Selection Committee, for a phone interview today.
Much of what he said is probably what you would expect in terms of defending what happened, but he also went into detail about the selection process, and some of that I’ll save for a story in tomorrow’s paper.
But here’s a bit of what he said.
Asked about Washington, he said: “We got down to those last few teams and they (Washington) were one of them, but with the committee members voting, they missed (getting in). We had eight automatic qualifiers which really hurt (teams like Washington). If we hadn’t had that many, Washington would have been in the field, but we just had the 24 (at-large) spots.”
There were eight committee members, including Dean Smith and Gene Keady, and Newton said they simply voted for the teams they felt should be in, and the 24 with the most votes got in (eight teams received automatic bids for winning regular season conference titles).
Newton said the Huskies “are much like the other teams that were in the mix (and were left out). Iowa was fourth in the Big Ten, or Akron which had (25) wins. UConn was one of those that had a very similar record to Washington’s. That’s just the way the votes came out.”
“There was no one reason (UW was left out),” Newton said. “No conspiracy. None of that stuff.”
As I detailed here earlier, the NIT has taken at least one Pac-10 team every year since 1981 except for two seasons when there was no conference team left with a winning record after those that received NCAA invites.
But Newton said the committee didn’t consider conference affiliation. Nor, he said, did TV play a role.
“We are serious about trying to make it as fair and as good a basketball tournament as possible,” he said. “TV doesn’t have a say, the size of the home court doesn’t enter into it. Just look at the fact that North Carolina State is going to Drexel. That never would have happened before. We would have gone where the gate was.”
Newton said TV only gets involved once the matchups are set in terms of setting game times, dates, etc.
Newton said the committee considered “who they played, how they played and where they played them. … ultimately, it was what your gut feeling was about them as a basketball team.”
Newton was asked if UW’s 1-10 road record might have been a factor. “That’s one of the things you look at,” Newton said. “Road record and who they choose to play outside their league, all those factors come into it.”
Newton mentioned Drexel as a team that got impressed the committee “because one of the thigns they did was they are a bunch of road warriors. They went out and played people out of their league. Who you choose to play, we look at all of those things. Ultimately, you just sit down and rank the teams and the teams with (the most votes) get in.”
Newton said that he had talked with UW athletic director Todd Turner a few days before the selection process
“Todd is one of my favorite people and I talked to Todd before our meeting,” Newton said. “I know he feels very good about their future and I do think they are going to be really good next year.”
I asked him about teams like Fresno State, which some have mentioned on here as not having a resume as good as UW’s. “You can find warts on every team and you can find beauty marks on every team,” Newton said.
The Huskies are scheduled to play in the pre-season NIT next year, but Newton said that had no impact on anything. “That’s a whole different animal,” he said. “We are just tickled to death they are going to be in the pre-season NIT next year.”



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