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Joe Ovies

Without much fanfare, Pirates take CIT

Posted April 3, 2013

Congratulations are in order for East Carolina after the Pirates capped off their best basketball season in school history by claiming the CollegeInsider.com Tournament Championship.

Now you'll be excused if the first reaction to this news is, "wait, what?"

It's not like the CIT has been a well publicized event since its inception in 2009. It competes with the College Basketball Invitational, which started in 2007, for most superfluous postseason tournament.

Unlike the National Invitational Tournament, it lacks the backing of ESPN and the allure of Madison Square Garden for the final rounds. Instead, the CIT is broadcast to fewer homes on the CBS Sports Network and headlines are buried deep inside the college sports sections of national websites.

But let's not pretend NIT participants aren't subjected to the same snide remarks about relevancy despite the tournament's ancient pedigree.

Bottom line: If a school is going to participate in a tournament, they might as well go out and win it. So props to the Pirates for ending their season in winning fashion. Their game against Weber State was entertaining and had an exciting finish thanks to Akeem Richmond's dagger at the buzzer.

At the very least, East Carolina can claim a title Duke, North Carolina and NC State don't have in their trophy cases. Am I right?

Basketball success in Greenville is a relative thing. East Carolina had never produced a season with 20 wins or more before Jeff Lebo showed up on campus. The Pirates had never won a postseason tournament game either, losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 1972 and 1993. Even their first trip to the CIT in 2011 resulted in an early exit.

In an ironic twist, it could be argued that East Carolina's lack of basketball success kept them on the Big East back burner while the conference was looking for full-time replacements. It wasn't for lack of football success and Greenville's market size could be overcome when including fan support throughout the state of North Carolina. As much as football has been a driving force of expansion, the old Big East still needed to appease the basketball-only schools and their desire to keep the tournament in New York prestigious.

Winning the CIT might mean nothing in the long run, but the hope in Greenville is that it becomes the first step in turning East Carolina into a respectable mid-major program. It's necessary for the university's overall athletic profile and future realignment positioning.

31 Comments

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  • WufSkins Apr 4, 8:07 p.m.

    Great win Pirates. Watched the end and was happy to see you guys end your season on a high note. I think the move to the AAC will be a plus for your hoops program, maybe become the next VCU or Wichita St.

  • Hokies94 Apr 4, 4:13 p.m.

    I credit Terry Holland for hiring a great coach at ECU. Lebo is a star on the rise, and this huge win will guarantee that he will draw great interest from top recruits. That's all it takes to keep on winning. Lebo learned from the Dean, and he has motivated this team in a short time frame. ECU is on the rise. Once again. I congratulate Coach Lebo, players, administration, and the fans.

  • GunnyGoesBaaaarf Apr 4, 7:24 a.m.

    So lets see, If you win the NCAA, you are #1, the NIT #69, so if you win the CIT, your what,... View More

    — Posted by anonemoose

    That is easy to say if you support a winner. When your team is in the gutter in basketball for... View More

    — Posted by tcoutouzis

    Ignore the naysayers, tcout - winning the CIT IS a big deal - congrats to ECU!

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again01 Apr 3, 4:19 p.m.

    Congrats, Pie-rats!

    — Posted by TruthBKnown Banned Again01

    From you Truth, I will take that as a compliment. That is about as close as a... View More

    — Posted by tcoutouzis

    Dude, I said congrats!

    When UN*Cheat wins something, I say "Congrats, Holes!"

    I call you what I call you. I still congratulated you. You won a championship, and it was an exciting game-winning shot. It's a good way to end the season, and maybe a first step to better things.

  • johnnyaudit Apr 3, 3:46 p.m.

    So lets see, If you win the NCAA, you are #1, the NIT #69, so if you win the CIT, your what,... View More

    — Posted by anonemoose

    It's you're, NOT your. Learn to spell if you want to be taken seriously.

    — Posted by me2you

    Good come back. You must be an EZU grad. Oh wait, you were just correcting grammar.

    — Posted by vance203

    BTW, comeback is one word. And he was correcting your spelling, not grammar.

    With all those mistakes, you want to throw out the EZU label? Someone needs to look in the mirror and learn to do more than use spellcheck.

  • Hokies94 Apr 3, 3:18 p.m.

    Super coaching job by Lebo! The players fought hard all season, and it payed off. Congratulations to all ECU fans!!!

  • tcoutouzis Apr 3, 2:15 p.m.

    For all of you that want to see the last play.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5nklxLWIro

  • tcoutouzis Apr 3, 2:12 p.m.

    Congrats, Pie-rats!

    — Posted by TruthBKnown Banned Again01

    From you Truth, I will take that as a compliment. That is about as close as a "congratulations" we can get out of you.

  • Stilllearnin Apr 3, 2:07 p.m.

    Congrats to the Pirates!!!

  • vance203 Apr 3, 1:58 p.m.

    So lets see, If you win the NCAA, you are #1, the NIT #69, so if you win the CIT, your what,... View More

    — Posted by anonemoose

    It's you're, NOT your. Learn to spell if you want to be taken seriously.

    — Posted by me2you

    Good come back. You must be an EZU grad. Oh wait, you were just correcting grammar.

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