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BYU's NIT note from President Smith

Maybe it helps to have a note from the right high profile person.

BYU lost in the semifinal round of the NIT on Tuesday, ending dreams of winning the tournament as it did in 1951.

New York City in 51 was a bigger deal than now, at least from a basketball perspective. It was home to the biggest college basketball tournament in the world the NIT. Now its home to the best teams that didnt make the NCAA field.

BYUs Tuesday loss to Baylor ended the Cougars season. The game at Madison Square Garden brought the inevitable comparisons to BYUs championship teams in 51 and 66.

As chronicled in Greatest Moments in BYU Sports by Lee Warnick and yours truly, BYU coach Stan Watts was reading encouraging telegrams to his team in the locker room prior to the championship game in 51. He had not realized, until he read it, that one of the notes came from then LDS President George Albert Smith.

From the top of the Rockies I send my love and blessing. Many thousands share my pride in your record. I have faith in your abilities. Play clean, play hard, play fair, play to win. God bless you, the telegram said.

On that team were Mel Hutchins and Roland Minson, who were honored this season during a ceremony at BYU. They led BYU to its title-game win over Dayton, claiming what was effectively the national championship.

A final note on that 51 team, courtesy of Greatest Moments in BYU Sports: It had humor.

When the Cougars stepped into the empty Garden for their first practice, reserve center Boyd Jarman, from Wyoming, looked up and said, Boy, this barn sure will hold a lot of hay.

It still would, no doubt.