On Sunday night, Utah State men’s basketball coach Ryan Odom huddled with his staff in his home, watching as much game film as possible, hurriedly breaking down their next opponent.
The Aggies didn’t have much time to prepare for the Oregon Ducks. Roughly 48 hours will have passed between Sunday’s selection shows and when the Ducks take the court at the Spectrum on Tuesday night in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament.
But Odom has a lifetime of knowledge when it comes to the NIT.
“It’s certainly been good to the Odoms,” the USU coach said.
His father, Dave, has won the whole thing three different times, once with Wake Forest and twice with South Carolina, during his storied coaching career.
“My dad always had a saying: You’re not in the tournament until you win one,” Odom said. “That’s certainly how we’re approaching this thing. … We want to compete to win.”
The Aggies haven’t been in the NIT since 2008. They haven’t hosted an NIT game since 2004. And they haven’t won an NIT game since 1960.
“It’s all about how you approach it,” Odom said. “I know our guys will approach it like they have every other game they’ve played this year — and that’s to try to win.”
To do that, they’ll have to take care of business against an Oregon team that started the season ranked No. 13 in the country but underperformed on its way to a 19-14 record.
The Aggies will be looking to show they’re better than their 18-15 record, too.
“Our team has scheduled well and performed well against good teams, we just haven’t beaten enough of those good teams,” Odom said.
After losing to Colorado State in the conference tournament and finishing seventh overall in the Mountain West, Odom and the Aggies may have had some doubts about receiving a postseason invite.
“I was a little nervous,” Odom said of watching the selection show on television.
Not only are they invited, they’re hosting.
“I think it can springboard you on to better things in the coming years as long as you use it the right way,” Odom said. “Certainly, we were disappointed we didn’t reach our goals of making the NCAA Tournament and having a go at that, but this is a really good opportunity for our program.”
Odom said his first call after hearing the news was to forward Justin Bean
“He was obviously over the moon and ecstatic about being able to play another game,” Odom said. “… We’re just excited we’ll be able to play in front of the Aggie fans again.”
It’s also an opportunity to get a Power Five team in the Spectrum.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for us because it doesn’t happen that often,” Odom said. “We certainly want to schedule these types of games. But, as you know, a lot of times our best chance to play these folks is on a neutral site. We would welcome any team that wants to come to Logan, and certainly we would want to return that game to them as well.”
First, though, Odom and the Aggies would like to hand Oregon a loss.
“If the tournament is happening, it’s worth going for it and trying to win it,” Odom said. “It doesn’t matter what tournament. And the NIT is a storied tournament.”
Women’s NCAA Tournament
• Utah vs. Arkansas, 3:30 p.m. Friday
• BYU vs. Villanova, 11 a.m. Saturday
National Invitational Tournament
• Utah State vs. Oregon, 7 p.m. Tuesday
• BYU vs. Long Beach State, 7 p.m. Wednesday
The Basketball Classic
• Southern Utah vs. Kent State, 7 p.m. Wednesday