UCLA would accept NIT invitation if offered

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
7:09
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- UCLA's chances of making the NCAA tournament ended with a 66-58 loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament Thursday at Staples Center, but the Bruins would play in the NIT if invited, coach Ben Howland said.

"If we have the opportunity to play in the postseason in the NIT, we would accept," Howland said. "It's something that I want for our players. So yeah, no question, we would not snub our nose at the opportunity to play in the NIT."

NIT tournament invitations are handed out after the NCAA tournament selections are made Sunday. Conference regular-season champions not invited to the NCAA tournament get an automatic berth in the NIT, which could hinder UCLA's chances.

UCLA last played in the NIT in 1986 and lost to UC Irvine, 80-74, in the first round. They won the NIT in 1985.

The CBI and the CIT are other postseason tournaments that could court UCLA (19-14), but it's not likely the 11-time national champion Bruins would accept an invite to either of those lower-tier events even after missing the NCAA tournament for the second time in three seasons.

"Coach Howland already spoke to us after the game and I don’t know if we would go to any of those other tournaments," said senior guard Jerime Anderson, who said he did not know the names of the other tournaments.

Lazeric Jones, also a senior, said he would welcome the opportunity to extend his college career by playing in the NIT, but has little knowledge of the CBI or CIT.

"I love playing basketball so any basketball game I can play is good with me," Jones said. "To be honest, I don’t know too much about those other tournaments. Whatever coach wants us to do and whatever my teammates want to do, I’m down with that."

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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