March 11, 2012 in Sports

Cougars play USF on Tuesday in first CBI appearance

By The Spokesman-Review
 

PULLMAN – The season isn’t over yet for the Washington State men’s basketball team.

The Cougars were selected Sunday to make their first appearance in the College Basketball Invitational, and will play a first-round game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the University of San Francisco. The game can be seen on HDNet (Comcast channel 707 in the Spokane area).

If WSU (15-16) wins, it will face the winner of North Dakota State versus Wyoming on March 19. A tournament official said decisions about second-round sites won’t be made until first-round games are played, and are based on factors such as arena availability. The semifinal round is played March 21, with the two winners facing each other in a best-of-3 series held March 26, 28 and 30, if necessary. All games are played at home sites.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to continue our season by participating in the CBI,” WSU coach Ken Bone said in a statement. “It provides us a chance to keep playing and end our season on a positive note.”

It’s the second time WSU has been invited to the CBI, which began in 2008 as a postseason alternative for teams that didn’t make the NCAA tournament or NIT. The Cougars declined an invitation in 2010, but Bone made it clear earlier this year that his team would be open to any opportunity to continue playing.

San Francisco (20-13) finished fifth in the West Coast Conference this season. The Dons, who are coached by Rex Walters, are 10-4 at home this season, most notably beating Gonzaga there 66-65 on Feb. 18. USF’s last game was an 83-78 loss in the WCC tournament semifinals to eventual tournament champion Saint Mary’s.

The Dons are led in scoring by 6-foot-8 senior forward Angelo Caloiaro, who averages 14.2 points per game and is 10th in the WCC in 3-point field goal percentage (39.6). Three other USF starters – 6-9 forward Perris Blackwell, 6-4 guard Rashad Green and 6-foot guard Michael Williams – average double-figures. Starting guard Cody Doolin is just behind at 9.3 points per game.

They play an up-tempo style of basketball, scoring 75.4 points per game, good for 32nd in the country.

In USF’s WCC tournament semifinal loss to Saint Mary’s, the Dons played just one bench player – forward Cole Dickerson – for longer than five minutes. Three others combined to play just nine minutes. Caloiaro, Blackwell and Doolin have started each of San Francisco’s games this season. Green started all but one.

Oregon State (19-14) is the only other Pac-12 team in the CBI field. The Beavers, who won the tournament in 2009, are making their third CBI appearance and face Western Illinois on Wednesday. The Cougars could face OSU if each team wins its first two games.

Other participants are TCU, Milwaukee, Delaware, Butler, Quinnipiac, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Evansville, Wofford and Pittsburgh.

WSU is the only team in the field with a sub-.500 record. The Cougars lost in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament last season in New York, and are 13-11 all-time in the postseason.

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