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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, March 10, 2018 1:00 am

Mastodons accept spot in CIT for 4th time

Coliseum to be site of Monday game

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

The IPFW men's basketball team's season will continue at noon Monday with a Tournament opening-round matchup at Memorial Coliseum.

The bid marks the fifth consecutive season the Mastodons have played in a postseason tournament with CIT appearances in 2014, 2015 and 2017 and an National Invitation Tournament berth in 2016.

“Our guys are very appreciative. It's an honor,” coach Jon Coffman said. “Our program is in the stage, too, where on any given night, against any opponent, anywhere in the country they can go out and win.

“They're recovering from the disappointment of not making the NCAA, that's our ultimate goal. The NIT, CIT they've both been great postseason environments.”

The opponent is yet to be determined.

“We thought we were going to be on the road, and we were hoping that we would get one of the TV games on Monday, but I just didn't know,” Coffman said.

“We won't know until (today) who we're going to play. They had to define the host team to get them ready for TV.”

The Mastodons fell 86-82 to North Dakota State in the opening round of the Summit League Tournament on Sunday, and knew Wednesday that the bid was official.

“We knew that when we released them (the team) on Monday that it was a possibility,” Coffman said. “We told them to be back Thursday night and practice Friday.”

Coffman knows that with quick-turnaround postseason games, the key is to be “a better version of you than they are of themselves.”

Even during the regular season, one-day preparations produced better results than spending four or five days on one opponent, such as the turnaround between Stetson and Indiana in December.

“Even in league play, the first round when we went through, we dropped some weekday games and picked up the one-day prep games on the weekends: Oral Roberts to Denver, South Dakota to North Dakota State,” Coffman said. “These guys, they've developed a very high IQ for our scouts.

“We also really focus on what we do, and so obsessing about the opponent isn't quite as vital. We haven't played as well when we have obsessed with the opponent.”

Select tournament games are chosen to honor legendary coaches, and Monday's contest will honor Hugh Durham, a former coach at Jacksonville, Florida State and Georgia.

The CIT is in its 10th season and features 32 teams with games played at campus sites.

There is no predetermined bracket as opponents are set after the previous-round results to ensure geographic stability.

Tickets will be $1 and go on sale 10 a.m. today through Ticketmaster. IPFW students will be free with a student ID. Season-ticket holders will get an email with information on reserving tickets.