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Husky Men's Basketball

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March 17, 2007 at 2:31 AM

Turner and the NIT

Had a chance to talk with UW athletic director Todd Turner on Friday on his role in the hiring of Kevin Stallings as the coach at Vanderbilt, the team that will face Washington State today.
As I detail in this story here,Stallings got the job in 1999 after Turner — then the AD at Vanderbilt — was unable to lure Bob Bender away from UW.
And not to belabor the point on the NIT, but this was the first chance I’d had to talk to Turner since early last week. He has since talked with C.M. Newton, the head of the NIT selection committee, to get his views on why UW was not invited. Newton told Turner the same thing he’d told reporters — that UW was close but squeezed out by a number of different factors, including the paring of the field.
But Turner also said that “basically, we just didn’t win enough games” particularly on the road. Turner said that from talking to Newton, he thinks if UW had won just one more road game, it would have been invited.
“I think losing 10 games on the road was a problem for us,” he said. “If we had won one more it wouldn’t have been an issue.”
Turner also said he thinks the fact that there is no one on the NIT selection committee with ties to the Pac-10 hurt UW’s cause. The two West Coast representatives are Rudy Davalos, longtime AD at New Mexico, and Carroll Williams, longtime coach at Santa Clara.
“I think our league would benefit from better representation on the selection committee,” Turner said. “The fact that we don’t have a person sitting around the table, I don’t think it’s an absolute necessity, but I just don’t know how much guys from other leagues see the Pac-10 night in and night out and you can’t win in that situation.”
“What disappoints me more than anything else, and in some ways this reflects on the perception of our league, is I don’t think people regard the schedule in the Pac-10 as being as challenging as the ACC or the SEC or the Big Ten and I think that’s totally unfair. We played 20 games against Pac-10 teams and of our (13) losses, only two were against teams that were not in the NCAA tournament (Oregon State and Cal). To think that we weren’t a tournament caliber team
is hard to justify. I think that we were a tournament caliber team.”
Turner also said he thinks UW could have won a game or two in the NCAA tournament had it gotten in, basing that in part on how the Pac-10 has performed so far, going 4-2 in the first round.
As for the future, Turner confirmed that UW has been talking to the NIT about hosting pre-season games next season. The NIT recently decided to hold opening round games in that tournament on-campus rather than at neutral sites.
“We are definitely we will be the host of a West region,” Turner said. “That would be great.”

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