One of the benefits of being from a power-5 conference and just missing the NCAA basketball tournament is that you often get a home game in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.
If you want one. Indiana last week decided it didn’t. Even though it was the higher seeded team in its first-round NIT matchup, it opted to let Georgia Tech host instead.
The explanation was that Indiana officials didn’t figure they could draw much of a crowd since Indiana students were on spring break.
Indianapolis Star columnist Greg Doyel did a little research and found that 11 of the 16 teams hosting first-round NIT games — including Iowa — were on spring break. Indiana was the only one that rejected a home game. (Iowa had an announced crowd of 12,864 for its NIT opener. With its students on break.)
The suspicion is that the real reason Indiana was worried about attracting a crowd had nothing to with spring break. It was because the school knew its snobbish fans were so disenchanted with being in the NIT and with the direction of the program under Tom Crean that most of them wouldn’t show up.
The players themselves barely showed up, losing to Georgia Tech on Tuesday.
Crean got fired on Thursday.
Maybe they should have just refused the NIT bid and let some other team have it.
The best NIT crowd I ever saw was in 1995 when Iowa was forced to play DePaul at what was then known as The Mark of the Quad-Cities while Carver-Hawkeye Arena was being used for NCAA wrestling tournament.
The game had a sellout crowd of 10,678 and featured an extraordinary atmosphere. It offered an opportunity for bunches of fans in the Quad-Cities who never had seen a game in Iowa City to cheer on the Hawkeyes right here in the old hometown.
I’ve often wondered why other schools didn’t use the same tactic in the NIT. If Indiana was that worried about having a national television audience see scads of empty seats in Assembly Hall, it should have tried playing the game at 8,110-seat Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium over in Seymour, just 50 miles to the east.
It might have attracted a crowd there just because of the novelty of the occasion.
You may have noticed that Iowa received eight points among the “others receiving votes’’ in the final Associated Press basketball poll and figured that had to be a misprint.
Those eight points came from John Feinstein of National Public Radio, who put the Hawkeyes in the 18th spot on his ballot, probably by mistake. Voters input their ballots online with the use of a dropdown and Feinstein undoubtedly intended to vote for Iowa State.
That is not to say that Feinstein doesn’t sometimes do unusual things with his weekly ballot. He also was among the few who voted for Middle Tennessee, Princeton and Vermont last week.
Sorry to hear of the passing in late January of Allan Steinfeld, the popular and highly innovative race director of the New York City Marathon.
Even before he succeeded Fred Lebow as director, Steinfeld was instrumental in modernizing the NYC Marathon and establishing a template for other big-city marathons to follow.
Steinfeld visited the Quad-City Times Bix 7 several times and the last time he was here he went fishing with legendary runner Bill Rodgers and his brother, Charlie, at a local farm pond. Rodgers grudgingly recalled that Steinfeld, a former high school science teacher and lifelong city dweller, was the only one who caught a fish.
One local sports aficionado recently insisted that Augustana’s Grey Giovanine would be a candidate for the head coaching vacancy at Illinois. He didn't say he'd get the job but said he'd get an interview.
He’s didn't. It’s a ridiculous assertion on a couple of levels. There is no indication Giovanine wants a Division I job. Everyone knew the Illini were going to hire someone with a much bigger name (like Oklahoma State's Brad Underwood).
That is not to say that Giovanine isn't good enough to make it at that level. What he did with the Vikings this season in what was supposed to be a total rebuilding year was flat-out amazing.