Stags await postseason invitation
FAIRFIELD -- The wait is on for the Fairfield men's basketball team.
Even though the Stags (22-10) fell short against Siena in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game on Monday night in Albany, N.Y., their chance to play in the postseason remains alive.
Once the field is selected for the NCAA tournament on Sunday, the Stags figure to receive a call from the NIT, the College Basketball Invitational or the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament.
According to several Web sites, the Stags are a bubble team for the NIT and likely ticketed for the CBI or CIT.
"That's up to whoever the bracketologists are for the minor league tournaments, if that's what you want to call them," said Fairfield coach Ed Cooley, who directed the Stags to their first MAAC championship appearance in seven years. "I came here to get our program to the big tournament and I think my players are down tonight (Monday night).
"I would love an opportunity to play in a postseason tournament that is gracious to have us. I think it's great for our young players to experience postseason play, which they did in this tournament.
"Whoever wants us, I think we will play well and represent the conference in a first-class manner."
Fairfield started two freshmen -- Derek Needham and Shimeek Johnson -- and two sophomores -- Sean Crawford and Jamal Turner -- along with Johnson in the championship game. They also played the entire season without senior Greg Nero, who may get an extra year of eligibility due to illness, as well as junior Warren Edney, who was out with an injury. Junior Yorel Hawkins also missed the final five weeks.
Even though the Stags' future appears to be bright, Johnson said after the Siena loss that he was satisfied with his four years playing for Cooley and what the program accomplished.
"I had my time," said the first-team all-MAAC forward. "I had my chance and that's all I wanted. I had four years ... and I'm OK with where we are at."