Nov. 19, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With a perfect 3-0 record, including a pair of wins in the North Regional of the NIT Season Tip-Off, the University of Michigan men's basketball team is preparing to travel to New York City for the semifinal round of the preseason tournament. The Wolverines will take on Pittsburgh on Wednesday (Nov. 21) at 9:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.
One thing head coach John Beilein and the Wolverines stress daily as part of their culture is being champions in everything they do, on and off the court. The NIT Season Tip-Off provides Michigan with its first opportunity to become champions on the court early in the season. But before the Wolverines can think about being champions, they have to face a talented Panthers team, which is under 10th-year head coach Jamie Dixon, in the semifinals.
For many of the Wolverines, the trip to New York will be their first. In addition to the playing on a national stage in one the most storied basketball arenas in the country, Michigan's players will participate in several other team and tournament functions throughout the week. The team will attend a banquet on Tuesday in Central Park, watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from its hotel in Times Square and share a holiday dinner together on Thursday (Nov. 22).
Former Wolverine and current men's basketball director of operations Travis Conlan commented on the team's opportunity to compete in Madison Square Garden and spend the holiday week in New York.
On playing at Madison Square Garden ... "Playing at Madison Square Garden is very, very special. I remember when I played there back in the 1990s. Walking down the halls I saw pictures of Muhammad Ali in prize fights on the wall and just knew that the best athletes in the world from many sports usually end up playing there at some point. It was an honor just to be a part of that. When we won the NIT Season Tip-Off in 1997, it was really special to know that you won a championship on that floor when you think of all the great players that have played there. There is just something about that stage -- you have Broadway down the street -- it's literally a stage. The bright lights are on; they dim the lights in the crowd so the only thing that shines is the floor. It's a really cool atmosphere and I think our guys are really going to enjoy that. I don't know if they'll understand the significance at the time because I don't know if I really did, but we're going to remind them how special of a place it is while we're there."
On off the court bonding experience ... "That's one of the biggest things about these preseason trips, no matter where you go, the down time with your teammates, the coaches, the staff, the families is great. You really get to know each other a lot and this is no different. Going to New York, a lot of guys have never been there. They've never been to Central Park; they've never been to Times Square. We're going to have a chance to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which everyone has seen on TV. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to go check out the 9/11 Memorial and also head over to the Statue of Liberty. We've got some things planned because we understand this is a business trip to win basketball games, but we also want them to have a good experience while they're there. Coach Beilein is really big on the historical pieces of places we travel to. Going to Europe a few years back, he wanted the guys to really get out and see Europe. It's the same thing in New York -- he understands we have a job to do, but he also understands this is an opportunity for them to learn and grow as individuals and as a team. We'll take full advantage of that. I know that guys are excited -- they've been talking about it, so hopefully we'll be able to win a couple games and also have a good experience off the court."
Contact: Tom Wywrot, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423