Tournament invitation elicits usual reaction from Johns Hopkins
After 38 consecutive years of earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament, one would think that Johns Hopkins’ reaction to No. 39 would be a little muted.
But when the Blue Jays had to win the last two games of the season to even their record at 7-7 just to be eligible for postseason consideration this spring, a little outpouring of emotion is expected.
"They cheered – like we do every year," coach Dave Pietramala said of his players’ reaction when they saw that they will meet No. 5 seed Duke on Saturday at 12 p.m. "We don’t take things for granted around here. Strange things can happen. Obviously, there have been years when we’ve been certain where we stand that we’ll be in. But it still doesn’t take away from the excitement that you’ve been named to the NCAA Tournament, and that you’re one of 16 teams and now you have an opportunity to compete for a national championship. Was the cheer a little louder today? Probably so and that’s because of the position we put ourselves in and that position was pretty simple. Our destiny was in the hands of others."
Johns Hopkins, which has never lost in the first round of the tournament, didn’t get any favors from the NCAA selection committee, which sent the team to Durham, N.C., for a meeting with the Blue Devils (12-4). Duke has won 10 of its last 11 games – including tagging Virginia with its only loss of the season.
"Listen, we’ve never looked at our match-up and thought, ‘Oh, we’ve got the short end of the stick,’" Pietramala said. "You’ve got to play against great teams in this tournament no matter what and records go out the window. I’m certain right now, everyone’s got Duke moving on. In the broadcast [Sunday night], they had Duke moving on. And that’s OK. Based on the year we had, I understand that. What we’re going to do is we’re going to try to work awful hard and control the things that we can control."