UTA Men's Basketball Tips Off at NIT

Not the tournament they aimed for, but still rewarding

By Mola Lenghi
|  Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012  |  Updated 6:19 PM CDT
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After a historic showing, Texas-Arlington's basketball team's season is not over yet.

Mola Lenghi, Arlington Journalist

After a historic showing, Texas-Arlington's basketball team's season is not over yet.

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The season's not over for the men's basketball team at Texas-Arlington.

The Mavericks, who finished 15-1 in conference play in a historic regular season, are heading to the National Invitation Tournament.

Some may dub the NIT as the "Not Important Tournament," but don't tell that to the Mavs and their fans.

“This is a big deal. They've had an awesome season this year,” said Jennifer Chavez, manager of Maverick’s Bar & Grill in Arlington, where the official watch party will be held for the Mavs' opening-round game.

Texas-Arlington plays No. 1 seed Washington at 9 p.m. in Seattle.

Though they won't be playing in the prized NCAA Tournament -- where a mere appearance would have been a victory in itself for the Mavs -- they did win over a lot of fans.

“There's a lot of buzz this year," Chavez said. "We get phone calls every time they're playing wondering if we're going to show the game on the [TV] screens. There's a lot more action this year."

Even those who don't really care about basketball jumped on the bandwagon this year.

Student Albertine Mbuyi said she's not really a basketball fan "but as long as I'm a Maverick, I’ll point myself as a basketball fan."

A new era may have arrived at Texas-Arlington.

“UTA has only had postseason play two other times -- once in the NCAA Tournament and once in the NIT," said Scott Cross, men’s head basketball coach. "There are a lot of teams at home right now wishing they had the chance at postseason play and because our guys worked so hard during the season, we're fortunate enough to have an opportunity here tonight.”

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