Wildcats excited to head to New York

Arizona is headed to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament. Read on for their thoughts on the trip and more.

Arizona cruised through the first two games of the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament and will now head to Madison Square Garden to play Drexel for the right to face the winner between Alabama and Duke.

"This is one of the most prestigious tournaments that college basketball has," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. "To be able to play in Madison Square Garden is a great honor and I think it's something our players will forever remember if they don't go beyond Arizona to play there in the NBA."

Much of the focus after Tuesday's game is the fact that Arizona will now be playing in a historic venue and that is something that is not lost on the Wildcats.

"That's a dream come true to play in Madison Square Garden," Gabe York said. "That is a hooper's dream to go out and play there. We are definitely excited, but we are taking it one step at a time."

Like many of Arizona's players, this will be the first time York has played in MSG and even seen New York at all.

"I have never played in Madison Square Garden let alone been to New York," he said. "This will be my first time in New York. The Elite 24 is usually held at Rucker Park, so I was supposed to go there, but they changed it to Venice when I ended up playing there.

"It will be my first time, but I am excited. It is a business trip more than anything. I am excited to be in New York, but definitely playing in Madison Square Garden is going to be the best feeling."

Nick Johnson is also excited about the trip, but realizes that there is plenty of preparation to be done before next Wednesday's game.

"Who wouldn't want to play in Madison Square Garden?" Johnson said. "It's the biggest stage in basketball, period. We just tried to take it one game at a time and advance and we did that. I heard Drexel won, so we have to prepare for them and go out and play our game."

Miller echoed Johnson's sentiments, as he realizes that Drexel, which beat Rutgers on Tuesday, will present what is likely Arizona's biggest challenge of the tournament to date.

"It is incredible place, a great city and certainly three teams waiting on us starting with Drexel, who is very, very good," Miller said. "I know their coach well and they are close to home. That will be a difficult game on Wednesday."

One of the biggest benefits that Arizona has before the Drexel game is the fact that for the first time in a while, the Wildcats will have an extended break.

"We're excited about the opportunity that lies ahead and also excited that we don't have to keep playing games," Miller said. "It is an exciting stretch, but when you play five college games in 12 days, one of which is on the road at San Diego State, you are asking a lot.

"You can kind of sense it. We need a break and we also need to return where we get into a practice rhythm and improve on some things both on offense and defense."


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