SMU sees no reason to complain about NCAA Tournament seed
SMU coach Tim Jankovich isn’t going to complain about a No. 6 seed for his 30-win team.
Sure, the American Athletic Conference champions probably deserved a higher seed. But the Mustangs, who generally put only six players on the court during games, got an extra day and the shortest possible trip for their NCAA Tournament opener Friday at Tulsa, Okla..
“I’d rather stay excited. I hope our team feels exactly the same way. I don’t feel cheated at all,” Jankovich said. “I was worried we’d get a Thursday game. And we got to go to Tulsa, our closest venue. So it’s crazy to stand up here to complain and whine. I’m thankful for all that we got.”
Especially when remembering the hurt he felt for his players a year ago, when watching television and hearing all the talk about the NCAA Tournament that SMU was banned from playing in despite winning 25 games in Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown’s final season.
“Nobody deserves what has happened this year more than they do,” said Jankovich, Brown’s top assistant the last four years. “It probably motivated them just a little bit each and every week that we’ve gone along.”
There was also 2015, when in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1993, the Mustangs lost their opener 60-59 to UCLA after a questionable goaltending call against them on a 3-pointer in the final 13 seconds. And that came a year after watching the NCAA selection show with more than 1,000 fans and never hearing their name called for the 68-team field.
SMU (30-4) takes a 16-game winning streak into Friday when it plays Southern Cal. The Mustangs lost to the Trojans the day after Thanksgiving, but their only loss in 27 games since November was 66-64 two months ago at Cincinnati, another No. 6 seed from the AAC.
“It’s something that we owed ourselves from the beginning of the season,” sophomore Jarrey Foster said. “We wanted to be very successful.”
This season’s seniors include guard Sterling Brown, who has been part of a school-record 109 wins in his career - one more than forward Ben Moore.
“We’ve told them a number of times that we don’t have to be anyone different than we are,” Jankovich said. “Hopefully we’ll play as well as we have been playing.”