— Note: This article was originally posted back on 10/7/2016 on the old website. It has been updated —
You can tell a lot about a program or a sports franchise by the standards that they set for themselves.
Across the street from the Resch Center at Lambeau Field, the Packers proudly display the 13 seasons in which they won the NFL Championship, including 4 Super Bowl victories.
Inside Pauley Pavilion, the UCLA Bruins hang 11 banners celebrating national championships in mens basketball.
The Packers don’t hang banners for NFC North division championships. UCLA doesn’t even hang banners for Final Four appearances or Pac 12 Conference championships.
On the flip side, the Detroit Lions hang banners inside Ford Field proclaiming playoff appearances. The Indianapolis Colts hung an “AFC Finalist” banner at Lucas Oil Stadium after getting blown out by the New England Patriots in the 2014 AFC Championship game.
Back inside the Resch Center, at the south end of the arena hang several banners celebrating the finest seasons in Phoenix basketball history. Banners that proudly proclaim regular season and conference tournament championships along with postseason appearances in the NCAA Tournament, the NIT, and…..the CBI? The CIT?
Now I’m not saying that the Phoenix need to replicate the Packers or UCLA, but program standards speak volumes.
For a mid-major college basketball program, making the postseason is something that should be celebrated. However, with postseason events now geared towards mid-majors such as the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) and CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT), there are more slots than ever meaning it is much easier to make the post season.
It would be comparable to the Wisconsin Badgers or any other Power 5 FBS college football team hanging a banner inside their stadium celebrating an appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
I’m not even advocating for completely removing any trace of CBI or CIT appearances. Among the many banners hanging inside the old Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Marquette had a “postseason” banner that listed the year and appearance (NCAA or NIT) on the banner. Green Bay already does something similar with its Division II postseason accolades. A banner that lists all of the Phoenix Division I post season appearances would be appropriate.
What bothers me most is that the NCAA and NIT banners are the same size and have the same look as the CBI and CIT banners. These tournaments are not even in the same stratosphere.
The NCAA Tournament is what every college basketball team strives for when the season starts in October.
For a mid-major program like Green Bay, it is also special to be one of the 32 teams that makes the NIT field, either by automatic bid or by at-large selection.
It seems the only requirements for the CBI or CIT is that you have a winning record and are willing to pay an entry fee or play a road game.
I can understand the thinking at the time. Green Bay had not made the postseason since 1996 until Tod Kowalczyk’s 2008/2009 team finished 2nd in the Horizon League standings before falling to Cleveland State in the conference tournament semi-finals.
No banners had been raised since 1996 and the program wanted to celebrate something. So a banner was hung to commemorate the 2009 CBI appearance. Green Bay made a return appearance to the CBI in 2010 and an appearance in the CIT in 2013.
But since then, the Phoenix have won a regular season championship and made 2 appearances in the NIT – three actual banner-worthy accomplishments – along with the amazing 4-game run to a Horizon League Tournament championship in 2016.
So with Green Bay now in a new era of leadership – a new athletic director and a second year head coach – plus welcoming fans back to games for the first time in nearly two years, it’s time to raise the standards of Phoenix basketball back to where they should be.
It’s time to take down the CBI and CIT banners.