Utah coach Jim Boylen was just leaving the Disney on Ice production at the EnergySolutions Arena Sunday night with his wife and 3-year-old daughter when he got the call that his team's season wasn't over yet.
Boylen had been informed his team had been invited to the new College Basketball Invitational, but he didn't know who his opponent was yet. However, as of 11:30 p.m., Boylen and the Utes didn't know who their opponent would be, although it was believed that their first game would be on the road.
By that time, Boylen had already put his team through a practice Sunday night at the Huntsman Center with another one scheduled for this morning.
"We're thankful to still be playing," said Boylen. "It's important for this team to be playing any opponent to compete and feel the pressure. Anytime you can play in an elimination tournament it's a stepping stone. We're excited about it."
It will be the Utes' first postseason tournament since going to the NCAA Tournament in 2005 when Andrew Bogut led the Utes to the Sweet 16. The last time the Utes played in a postseason event other than the NCAAs was in 2001 when the Utes played Memphis in the first round and lost 71-62 at the Huntsman Center.
The Utes have just one senior on the team, who is in the regular rotation, guard Johnnie Bryant, whose career will end with Utah's next loss. That's why Boylen believes that the experience his team gets in any more games will benefit the team in the future.
"Any postseason play on the road is good for us," he said.
"I think it's positive."
The CBI was created by the Gazelle Group, which produces exempt tournaments such as the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The 16-team tournament will be played at campus sites beginning Tuesday with second- and third-round games being played next week. Then a three-game series featuring the two finalists will be played the following week.
Among the other teams that had accepted bids are Washington, UTEP, Nevada, Bradley, Virginia, Ohio, Brown, Houston and Richmond.Some teams such as Wake Forest and Missouri declined invitations.
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