NIT Semifinal Press Conference
March 29, 2010
Marriot Marquis Times Square, NYC
“I will be brief but I do want to introduce members of our Committee but before I do, I want to congratulate the four coaches and their teams for earning their way to the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. You have done a great job, been on the road and have earned your way to here. We are looking forward to some great games.
Let me introduce the Committee, if I may, and I will start at the far end with Carroll Williams. Carroll is the former athletic director and head basketball coach at Santa Clara. Carroll serves us as one of the Committee members representing the West. Bob Weltlich, who is new to the Committee, was the coach of Old Miss and Texas and South Alabama. Came on the Committee in the fall and represents the South. Les Robinson, former coach of Citadel, East Tennessee, North Carolina State, among others and was also the athletics director at Citadel and North Carolina State and also a member of the Men’s Basketball Committee for a number of years. Jack Powers who is Mr. NIT as far as I am concerned, Jack was a long time head coach and athletics director of Manhattan. I have known Jack since the early 70s and he is now on the professional staff of the NCAA in the NIT office in New York City and represents the east. Don DeVoe, who was the head coach of Virginia Tech who won the NIT in 1973, represents the east. Rudy Davalos, the coach at Auburn and the San Antonio Spurs, works with Carroll in the West…did a great job with the Men’s Basketball Committee in the NCAA. Reggie Minton and I represent the north. Reggie is the former head coach at Air Force Academy and is currently working with the National Association of Basketball Coaches as the Associate Director. Reggie does a great job representing the Big 12 and other conferences we look at.
We have really enjoyed making this a true basketball championship again and that is what it is. You earn your way here, you play your way through it and whoever wins it is a good basketball team. We are very proud of the coaches, their athletes and of this tournament. We will have a great tournament.”
Dayton Head Coach Brian Gregory:
“It is a great honor to be up here. I always say it is a great honor to be the Head Coach of Dayton, to get to this tournament. So much of our success and history has been based in New York City and Madison Square Garden. It is just a great honor. One of the challenges, you see four teams up here that have looked inward and said we are the reasons we didn’t make the NCAA tournament and we need to respond to that, and I think you see four teams that have responded extremely well by playing hard, playing really good basketball and playing unselfish basketball and three coaches in this profession that I obviously have a great amount of respect for. Coach Newton and the Committee, thank you, just a first class run program all the way around. In the city of Dayton, it is great to be a part of this, and to another chapter to our great legacy in the NIT. We do have seniors that now will be able to put their final paragraph to their legacy. Old Miss is tremendous, great energy, tremendous guard play and just killing people on the glass as well. It should be a great first game. What an honor to be here, representing our great University in a place that has really created the tradition of Flyer basketball.”
Old Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy:
“I want to start by thanking the Committee and Coach Newton. Coach Newton and I go way back. We appreciate the opportunity to come and play in this tournament. We were fortunate that our kids embraced this opportunity. We were here a couple of years ago and it is truly an amazing experience. Many of our guys have never been to New York City or played in the Garden, one of the most storied venues in all of basketball is something our guys are excited about. It is probably one of the most competitive NITs I can remember with quality coaches and quality teams. These are very good programs that have represented themselves well. We are excited to be here, we thank you for the opportunity and we know we have to play outstanding basketball Tuesday to beat the Dayton Flyers. Brian (Gregory) has done an outstanding job and they are playing as well as anyone in the country.”
Rhode Island Head Coach Jim Baron:
“What a great field. Congratulations to C.M. Newton and his Committee. Very happy to be here in New York City. I am a native of Brooklyn, always excited to be back in New York City. I am very excited to play in Madison Square Garden. I used to sneak in to watch the Knicks play with Red Holzman, Clyde Frazier and some of the great teams they had. I was also fortunate, as a player, I remember how much fun it was to play in the NIT. The opportunity to coach in the NIT is even more special. I am very happy the team has advanced to the semifinals. All five starters are from the New York metropolitan area. Hopefully we will have a lot of fans come to the Garden. I am very happy to represent the University of Rhode Island partly because of the tradition they have had in the 40s. I want to congratulate all of the teams and coaches for being in this tournament and good luck to you all.”
North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams:
“We are excited to be here. It was a very frustrating year for us to say the least but at the same time it is what it is. We played ourselves in that position. We were excited that we were the last bracket in on Selection Sunday night and I was as nervous as I have ever been in my life. To me, that shows the true feeling that I really wanted to play. I said after the loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament when someone asked me if we would play I thought that was sort of that that was peculiar question because my response is if someone invites me to play, I am going to play. I think that is what you are supposed to do as a coach or as a player. I think somebody that asks that kind of question doesn’t even realize the history and tradition of the NIT. As a basketball coach you want to keep playing and see if you can find the missing ingredients of how we can make ourselves better. I think that is what all these coaches are here doing. Watching Jimmy’s (Baron) club, they won at Boston College, we couldn’t do that. They won at Virginia Tech, we didn’t do that so we have a great deal of respect for his club. For me having the opportunity to play in the semifinals of the NIT, is something I look forward to. My team has played a little bit better the last few games. You finish the season, that is what your kids really think of, your seniors, you want them to have a better feeling at the end because they remember their senior season. Thanks very much to the Committee for choosing us and allowing us to play. I was excited when I saw North Carolina’s name up there. I didn’t listen to the prognosticators and what they were saying. It was a treat for us. We have played three games against three very good teams. I am up here with three guys that have big time ball clubs with a break here and there could be in the other tournament but we are all excited to be where we are. Thank you very much.”