Everyone was very complimentary to the NIT today, praising it as the best of the preseason tournaments and noting the NIT and Madison Square Garden's spot in the lore of college basketball.
The Wednesday game will be the first appearance there for all of the Huskies except coach Lorenzo Romar, who played there as a pro; Jon Brockman, who played there in the Jordan Classic as a high school senior; and freshman Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who played there while in prep school in neighboring Connecticut.
As for the games themselves, all four participating coaches noted the relative youth of their teams, including UW opponent Texas A&M, which returns three starters from its Sweet 16 team of a season ago, and is without star point guard Acie Law, who headed for the NBA.
And finally, tournament officials, including C.M. Newton said once again that thier snub of UW from the postseason tournament last season was no snub at all, just a tough decision that maybe looks a little better since all four No. 1's became the final four teams in both the postseason and the current preseason tournament ... indicating that maybe these guys know what they're doing. In any case, bygones, and the NIT says it is thrilled to have the Huskies here now. And the Huskies seem pretty happy about it too.
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Some random quotes from media day:
ROMAR on what can be taken from the performance here: This is a young season, and it's so long. I've seen teams go out and win the Maui Classic and by the end of the season they're not playing very good. Some don't do good early, by the end of the year (they are).
ROMAR on the size of the Aggies: We'd better box out. We can put lineups out there where we have comparable size to them. But we can also put – like there way we're going to start – with a small lineup where sometimes that can be to a big team's disadvantage. But they are definitely a very good opponent. They're tall, but some teams are tall but not effective. These guys are tall and athletic and quick and physical.
BROCKMAN on A&M counterpart Joseph Jones: He's a big athletic guy. He uses his body really well. He's really experienced, so he knows how to play. He's a tough tough (guy to) guard. He's so strong and big he can use his body to push people around without using his arms, which makes it tough getting your body in the right position.
JUSTIN DENTMON on the NCAA feel to this tournament: That's what it feels like. You walk into the hotel, it feels like the NCAA tournament. We're going to go play, then move to the next level. We're going to find out where we are as a team and where our focus is as a team.
DENTMON on the reaction of the freshman to NY: I think they'll be looking like, wow, I've never see anything like this. But by the time we take the court we'll be ready to play.
DENTMON on his reaction to NY: This is just another good thing happening in my life. When we went to Greece, that was something good. When I step into the Garden, that will be something good. It's just another stepping stone to where we want to be.
CM NEWTON on the NIT: We want these teams to really enjoy a wonderful experience around Thanksgiving in the city. We want to do everything we can to make it a fun time for them. And of course fun comes with winning and you guys have at it and have a good time.
SYRACUSE COACH JIM BOEHEIM on the event: It's always been a tremendous tournament. It's always been good for college basketball – both pre and post. So we're pound to be part of it. … By the end of the week I think all of the teams will have found out something about themselves that will help them at the end of the year.