The transition to Division I resulted in NKU not being eligible for the NCAA tournament for four years, but it does not mean the Norse cannot compete in post-season play.
The women’s team earned a spot in the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) and will host the College of Charleston Cougars Wednesday night (March 20) at the Bank of Kentucky Center at 7 p.m.
The Cougars had an overall record of (15-15) and went (11-9) in the Southern Conference.
About three to four weeks ago, the WBI contacted NKU and asked if it would be interested in the possibility of playing in the tournament if selected, according to head coach Dawn Plitzuweit.
“We finished our season March 2 and didn’t know if we should continue practicing up until the selection, which was 16 days later,” Plitzuweit said. “We continued to practice, thinking that we had a very good shot. We are the four seed playing the five seed so we were given the opportunity to host it and our university backed us.”
Plitzuweit said it was initially difficult for the team to go through a two-week period of not knowing if it would be able to compete again this year. She said the players were really pumped up when it was announced.
When the team found out it was going to play Charleston, it immediately began trying to download film and figure out what kind of team Charleston is through stats.
“Since then, we really started studying who they were, like we have with all of our opponents,” Plitzuweit said. “The prep for it really doesn’t change from any team that we’ve played. It just quickened up a little bit. We only have one day to practice, but they are in the same boat.”
Plitzuweit said she was pleasantly surprised to make a postseason tournament, but understands that her team worked very hard and deserved it.
“We never talked at the beginning or throughout the year winning ‘x’ number of games or putting ourselves in the position to compete in the postseason,” she said. “We just talked about being the best that we can be and improving on a daily basis and see where that leaves us in the end.”
The players are embracing the opportunity to keep playing.
“Once they said we wasn’t going to be able to make the NCAA tournament, we always hoped to make another postseason tournament,” said senior forward Tiara Hopper. “Either the WNIT or WBI, so I’m very excited to still be playing.”
Junior guard Kayla Thacker said the WBI will be a great experience and is excited that the team has a chance to make its mark.
“Not a lot of people get this chance, especially with it being our first year in Division I,” she said. “We are making history. It makes us want to play even harder to show everyone what we can do in this tournament.”
Plitzuweit left a message for the fans.
“[We need] to get some fans out there,” she said. “This will be a big game. This is a great opportunity. For students, it’s free. For general seating, it is a buck.”
She said being the host is a comfort factor and the players are excited to play at home in front of their fans.