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Backer Bits: Why SBU Turned down CBI & CIT Invites

BONA BACKER BITS: Walt Stubbs

Despite finishing the 2016-17 season with 20 wins, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies will not be playing in any post season tournament this season. Some had hoped that the 20 wins would be enough to get the Bonnies an NIT bid, a bid that last year wasn’t even a consolation for the team and its fans after being snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee.

The NIT Snub, if you will, wasn’t really a snub if you think about it. Bonaventure’s best win per the RPI was George Mason. Bonas was also 0-9 against teams ranked in the top 100 of the RPI. It also didn’t help that the highest number of automatic bids, ten, went to teams that were Regular Season Champs in their league but did not win their conference tournament.

Thus, the automatic NIT bid.

Unlike years ago, politicking to get into the NIT doesn’t work. They use the same metrics that the NCAA Tournament Committee uses. So recording just the 15th 20-win season in program history and having back to back 20-win campaigns for the first time since the 1977 and 1978 season wasn’t enough.

It was enough to get invited to both the CBI and CIT, smaller post season tournaments that usually include schools from smaller conferences. You will not normally find a school from the Power Five Conference participating in either of those tournaments. Same goes for the Big East. The Atlantic 10 doesn’t like to consider itself one of those smaller conferences and word is that the conference told each of its 14 institutions to decline any invitation to them. Discouraging the schools is a lot different then giving an ultimatum it appears, as both George Mason and George Washington accepted to play in this year’s CBI.

Looking at the brackets, they are probably the two biggest name schools participating other than Wyoming. The reasons for accepting the bids for both those schools has to do with what each school thinks is best for their programs.

For Mason, it is an opportunity for second year coach Dave Paulsen to give his young team some more experience and confidence as it heads into next season.

For the Colonials, it gives newly minted Head Coach Maurice Joseph a chance to get a little more experience himself as a sideline general. There’s no better coaching experience than to actually coach in a game. This gives him that opportunity. Remember, he only was named interim head coach at the end of this past September, a few weeks before opening practice after the firing of Mike Lonergan. So while the conference might look down on playing these lower level post season tourneys, if the opportunity presents itself, they are not going to tell one of there universities not to partake.

For the Bonnies, the reason for not playing was twofold. Just two years ago, there was a fury of activity from the athletic department and Coach Mark Schmidt to partake in the CBI. The team was relatively young, with Marcus Posley, Deon Wright and Jay Adams ready to get some extra experience which the coaching staff believed could help them for the 2015-2016 season. It was also an opportunity to give seniors Andell Cumberbatch, Youssou Ndoye and Chris Dees an opportunity to play in the post season.

Unfortunately, accepting to play in the CBI is a lot easier said then done. The main drawback? Money. The CBI and CIT makes it teams that participate pay to play. It costs $40,000 to host a game in the CBI in the first two rounds. Not exactly chump change, especially when it concerns Bonaventure and their limited budget. Thus, the decision to play two years ago was declined. The Bonnies could have played this year as well, but this time it wasn’t solely about the money.

Coach Schmidt and his staff were going all in for either the NCAA or NIT or nothing. And to be honest, who can blame him or the administration? Is it really worth it to play in the CBI or CIT? It probably would be more worthwhile to put that 40K to better use, such as going overseas during the summer for a few weeks and playing in a couple of tournaments. It would be a learning experience for the players, as far as taking in the views and cultures of another country but also would give the team time to develop camaraderie that you wouldn’t get in playing in the CBI or CIT.

In any event, the Bonas season is over, but before you know it, another season will be upon us. And hopefully, after the A10 Championship concludes in Washington DC, the Bonnies will be playing in either the NCAA or NIT.

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as espn.com/insider, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.