Perhaps nothing reveals character in a college basketball player more than a berth in the NIT.
Oklahoma State senior guard Nick Sidorakis understands completely. The last time the Cowboys played in the event, in 2008, they lost by 16 points at Southern Illinois.
"You've got to understand that you are playing for a championship, no matter if it is an NIT or the NCAA championship," Sidorakis told the Tulsa World
Oklahoma State (19-13) will open the NIT at home on March 15, but drew a difficult assignment. Harvard, which narrowly missed out on NCAA bid after losing by one point to Princeton in a playoff game to determine the Ivy League champion, stands 23-6. One of its nonconference wins was a 16-point rout of Big 12 member Colorado, which also was snubbed from the NCAA Tournament.
After directing the Cowboys to NCAA Tournament appearances in his first two seasons, coach Travis Ford will get his first chance to motivate an OSU team in the NIT. He has some noteworthy experience. In 2008 Ford guided Massachusetts to the NIT crown.
Steering a high-major program accustomed to NCAA runs, however, is a different challenge. One of the Cowboys' veterans, senior forward Marshall Moses, even admitted he was one of the players who would just as soon have been home as in Carbondale, Ill., for the blowout in 2008.
If Oklahoma State carries that same attitude against Harvard, the Cowboys may not stand a chance, even at home. Moses is their leader underneath and capable of dominating the glass, as well as scoring off the low block. Keiton Page is an outside bomber who almost fueled an upset of Kansas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament before teammates could not get him the ball on the final possession of a 63-62 defeat.
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