Nov. 23, 2010
NEW YORK -
Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off
Press Conference Quotes
Marriott Marquis Times Square
November 23, 2010
"I want to thank the committee. A bunch of old, retired coaches are responsible for the selection and brackets. We are proud we made this a real tournament. I want to thank the committee for doing a great job not only with seeding but with bracketing. Coaches, sincere congratulations for earning your way to New York City. I stress the word 'earning' because we are one of the few tournaments left where you have to earn your way here. You guys had to win your way here. Tennessee had two tough games, VCU upset the #1 seed and Villanova had to earn their way here. Now, we will have a true champion. Sincere congratulations to that. There is no place you can enjoy more than New York City at Thanksgiving. This experience, aside from basketball, with the parade, which you New Yorkers take for granted, the rest of us really appreciate. Thanks to New York, Madison Square Garden and Dick's Sporting Goods for making this a real championship."
Emcee and ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla
"We have four outstanding teams that are obviously undefeated. Four stellar programs. Four outstanding coaches ... three are giants in the business and one is a rising star."
Tennessee Head Coach Bruce Pearl
"I'd like to echo some of the comments CM made about being here. This is very special for some of our student-athletes and our University to be playing on hallowed ground. I hope we are up to playing some good basketball. We were challenged to be able to advance to New York and it is the right thing to do. It makes this NIT championship unique and special just like the postseason championship. For our program to be here and to try to represent itself against these coaches and programs is a great honor. Early in the season you learn about your team from trial and error. And you learn a great deal watching your opponents. I am not looking forward to playing VCU but I enjoy watching them. They are very athletic. They play a wonderful style of basketball. They are great in transition. They are hard to guard. From style of play and brand of ball, they are awfully hard to beat. We have to step up. I have a new basketball team. We have really good pieces and I think we are going to be a good team. We are not there yet. Tobias Harris and Brian Williams are from New York and are excited about being home for Thanksgiving and playing at Madison Square Garden. It is very nice to be here."
VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart
"I want to thank the committee first of all to be part of the tournament and second of all to come to New York. We appreciate the opportunity to earn the chance to be here. We are excited about the opportunity to be in New York City. About two-thirds have never been to New York City. Our team, the one of the four here, is the one that you will say is not like the others. Now we are going to get a chance to step up against the competition. One of the things that Bruce Pearl is at is he is a genius at getting his guys to play with confidence and poise at the crucial points of the game. Most of you don't know much about our team ... we try to play very, very fast. Our guys love to score. We have to be better defensively. Tennessee has a history of playing fast so Wednesday's game is going to be very exciting for a fans and player standpoint ... I don't know about from a coach's standpoint. What our guys said is that they are excited to be here but they want to be competitive and have a chance to win this thing."
Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright
"As Coach Newton said, this NIT, has evolved where it is something that is unique in sports. I think the NCAA taking this over and building on what Jack Powers has done is really exciting. I think the Committee that the NCAA has put together has made this unique. I love the NIT, at the Garden during Thanksgiving really speaks to New York basketball. Everyone in New York has a respect for the history of the game...Madison Square Garden, all the great neighborhoods. It is really exciting. It really is a thrill to be here. I think you are going to see some tough, physical games with some very good teams that respect being a part of this over this Holiday weekend. We have three senior guys who are from New York who are excited to be here: Corey Stokes, Corey Fisher and Antonio Pena. Going against UCLA, it is going to be a grind but it is going to be great basketball. You are going to see some great basketball this weekend. I wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving and luck in the tournament."
UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland
"It is an honor and privilege to be here in this tournament. I want to echo what great respect I have for the committee members up here and what they have meant to the game of basketball. We are really excited for our team to play in New York. To play at Madison Square Garden, which is by far, the greatest venue in the history of basketball. It is an honor for our team, our players and programs to play here. We have our work cut out for us tomorrow (against Villanova). It is going to be a challenge. I am really excited about our team. We have a lot of growth to make. This is a different level than what we played in our first three games. To play a top 10 team in Jay's team is going to be a very good challenge for our players. Friday we are going to play either VCU or Tennessee, both outstanding teams. I am just really excited about the opportunity to be here. It will be fun to be here and see the parade on Thanksgiving. Many of our players are in New York for the first time. We are excited about the opportunity and look forward to the games."