When the LSU men’s basketball team was not awarded a National Invitation Tournament bid Sunday night, it was left with one of two choices: hang up the shoes and shove this season in the books, or pay to participate in the College Basketball Invitational tournament.
LSU officials quickly made the decision to deny a bid to the CBI, and they should be praised for it.
The common argument for playing in the CBI is that teams get more experience by playing more games. But how much more experience can these Tigers (19-12, 9-9 Southeastern Conference) get?
After five months and 31 games, there’s not much more LSU can get out of this season. It’s been through an 18-game docket in the SEC and advanced to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
If these young Tigers don’t know what it takes to win in the SEC by now, then shame on them. Playing a bunch of scrubs would do next to nothing for LSU.
I’m not even going to bring up the money issue. The LSU Athletic Department is willing to throw any amount of money at anything, so that’s not even a sound argument.
But the CBI brings up a serious logistical concern. Teams participating in the CBI must host their own games, and LSU would be hard-pressed to do that, seeing as the PMAC is already playing host for the first and second rounds of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
Though these dates may not necessarily create conflict, putting on a college basketball game is kind of a big deal. A lot of planning and manpower has to go into it, and the University would have had two days to scrap it altogether.
But the real issue is pride. If I’m a player and my coach tells me, “Hey guys, we weren’t good enough to receive an NIT bid, but we can keep playing basketball if we pay up,” I’m not going to feel good about myself or my teammates.
More basketball is always great, but if I were a player, I’d be embarrassed to play in the CBI.
The NIT is already viewed as the consolation bracket for the teams that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, so the CBI can only be described as the consolation bracket for the consolation bracket.
What player with any sense of pride in what he does would want to participate in something like that?
The program clearly thought about the precedent it would set by accepting a CBI bid. LSU basketball is trying to move forward and reshape its image, so why would it lower its standards by accepting a bid to the CBI? The Tigers went to the NIT last year and anything less than that would be a step backward for the program.
The bottom line is that if a program wants to be of championship caliber, then it should conduct itself toward championships that are awarded, not paid for.
Sports, much like life, are simple in that you get out what you put in. Two sets of professional selection committees did not find LSU good enough to receive a postseason bid, and while I do think LSU deserved an NIT bid, I can’t argue to the contrary.
LSU fans need to face the truth: their Tigers just weren’t good enough. Yes, they overachieved. Yes, it was a fantastic season with memorable performances. But you’ve got to let go. Quit being the doting and overprotective mother and let them pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get stronger from the experience.
This young team will benefit much more from realizing its résumé wasn’t up to par and moving on with new goals in mind than accepting a CBI bid, which is nothing more than a tiny trophy for “outstanding effort.”
And that’s a trophy nobody wants to receive.
Everyone’s been talking about how great LSU will be next season, but they keep forgetting that the only way to realize the future is to let go of the past.
Congratulations, LSU. Take a seat and enjoy the offseason.
You’ve earned it.
Marcus Rodrigue is a 20-year-old mass communication sophomore from Thibodaux.