Gophers have five main reasons to keep going in the NIT

by Jace Frederick

The media waited outside the locker room for customary post-game interviews with the players after the Gophers 63-55 win over St. Mary's in the 2nd round of the NIT on Sunday afternoon.

The wait was a little longer than normal. That's because the players were inside in the locker room catching the fantastic finish between Kentucky and Wichita State in the 3rd (but actually, the 2nd) round of the NCAA Tournament.

"You're not going to ignore it," Pitino said. "The NCAA Tournament's on every T.V. That's where you want to be."

While the NCAAs were undoubtedly the Gophers first choice of postseason play, they're taking advantage of the opportunity to play in the NIT. Minnesota has reeled off two wins so far, with one more earning them a trip to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals.

Pitino wrote five reasons (he said he wrote six or seven things, but only listed five) on the board for his players to continue playing hard throughout the postseason:

1. "You're a competitor."

2. "You appreciate this opportunity and you want to take advantage of it."

3. "Your seniors — you don't want to send your seniors out with a loss."

4. "You want to get to New York. You want to play in the greatest arena in all sports — the Mecca of college basketball, get your coach back to his roots a little bit."

5. "Do you love the game, or not?"

For Pitino, that last question has an obvious answer.

"The good thing about these guys is, they really do love the game," he said. "It's fun to coach that.