HOUSTON, TEXAS (March 16, 2009) The University of Houston men's basketball team accepted a bid to play in the 2009 College Basketball Invitational, director of athletics Dave Maggard and head coach Tom Penders announced late Sunday night.
The Cougars will face Oregon State at 9 p.m. (CDT), Wednesday, at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore. The winner of the Houston-Oregon State game advances to face the winner of the Green Bay-Vermont game in the CBI quarterfinals on March 23.
"I'm excited for the kids. It's all about the kids and wanting to play in the postseason. It's an opportunity to play another game, to play a meaningful game and gain the experience from that," Penders said. "This is a great opportunity for the University of Houston."
Although the Beavers bring a 13-17 overall record into the postseason, Penders said he expected a close ball game on Wednesday.
"They play a Princeton-style game. (Head coach) Craig Robinson was a great player as a Tiger, and he coached at Princeton, so they run that Princeton offense really well," Penders said. "They had some great wins this year and pulled some great upsets in the Pac-10. They were one of the surprise teams in that league. It's a very interesting match-up for us."
Picked to finish seventh in the Conference USA Preseason Coaches Poll and by many national basketball publications, the Cougars tied with UTEP for fourth in the final regular-season standings and advanced to the semifinals of the 2009 C-USA Tournament with a win against the Miners.
With a 21-11 overall record to date, the Cougars earned their third 20-win season in the last four years, all Penders. The Cougar coach will be leading the Cougars into their fourth postseason appearance during his five-year tenure and the 20th of this 35-year coaching career.
"This gives us extra practices and a game situation in the postseason. A lot of these guys just played in their first conference tournament, so that's one step. Now, we have a chance to play a postseason game," Penders said. "It gives them an opportunity to gain experience that you can't get just by working out in the gym.
This is the 29th postseason appearance for the Cougars in school history. It also marks the second straight season that the Cougars will compete at the College Basketball Invitational.
A year ago, the Cougars rattled off wins at Nevada and against Valparaiso before falling to Conference USA-rival Tulsa in the semifinals.
After competing in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational in 2008, Penders said he looked forward to another postseason appearance in that event.
"Last year, our experience in this tournament was great. It's a well-run tournament, and it's first class," Penders said. "The Gazelle Group handles some of the greater events in college basketball, like Coaches vs. Cancer.