Coppin crosses fingers, awaiting word from NIT


The odds aren't great, but there's a chance Coppin State could play in a postseason tournament after all.

The National Invitation Tournament will announce its 32-team draw Sunday night. While some established powers on the NCAA bubble would spurn the NIT, Coppin State (19-10) would be happy to continue its season. The Eagles last played March 1, when they were upset by Florida A&M; in the semifinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament.

"The NIT people have been in contact with us this week," Coppin State coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell said. "We would like to go to the NIT, but we can't get our hopes up too high. On paper, we'd be in, but you know that's not the way it's always done."

In selecting its field, the NIT uses the same guidelines the NCAA uses to select its 34 at-large teams: record and strength of schedule. An NIT staffer said name recognition isn't a factor, but Mitchell knows that his relatively unknown Eagles could be overlooked.

Mitchell referred to the USA Today computer power ratings for an example of how name recognition can hurt Coppin State. The Eagles are ranked No. 89 in the nation, one spot above La Salle, which Mitchell figures the NIT will take.

Coppin State would like one more game for its seniors. Guard Reggie Isaac is the school's all-time scoring leader with 1,923 points. Two-time MEAC Player of the Year Larry Stewart has 1,804 points and 1,042 rebounds. His 13.6 rebound average is third-best in the nation.

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