New York - New Territory

There's a chance the Ole Miss Rebels could get a bit caught up in the bright lights, big city that is New York. At least for one day the plans call for the Rebels to see some sights and to do that if they so choose.

But that will be Sunday afternoon and evening after arriving before noon that day. Come Monday, it's again all about winning the NIT Championship.

There's a press conference Monday afternoon at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. There's a closed practice at an undisclosed location that day. The focus on Monday is clearly on Tuesday night's Final Four matchup against Ohio State at Madison Square Garden in the 71st National Invitation Tournament.

"One thing that's different in the NIT (than the NCAA Tournament) is that it's not until now that you're in a true tournament venue," Andy Kennedy said. "This is our Regional. The bright lights, the big city. This is really our NCAA Tournament experience. So that's going to bode well for not only the young kids, but it's also great that our seniors get a chance to experience it."

The second-year Rebel head coach said getting to this point the last three games has been special.

"We got to play at home (vs. UC Santa Barbara and Nebraska), and that was about pride and wanting to advance," he said. "Then we had the chance to go to Virginia Tech, and for those seniors it was gratifying (to win there) because it got us to New York. For the underclassmen, now they realize that if we can win in that environment against that team, then we can grow from that. That (winning on the road) has been a huge hurdle for us to overcome in our league."

Kennedy said he wants the Rebels to enjoy themselves and experience one of the world's most important cities.

"Many of them have never been to New York, and Sunday we'll enjoy that," he said. "On Monday we'll get back to the business at hand and get ready for a tremendous challenge. We put our goal out there to get to New York. Now our goal is to win a championship. We've put ourselves in that position and hopefully now we can take advantage of it."

Eniel Polynice is one of those players who has never been to New York.

"We're excited about going to New York. The Big Apple," said the sophomore guard. "We want to have fun, but we don't want it to be over yet."

Polynice said he truly believes all the late-season success that's been going on will assist the Rebels next season.

"It's going to help us a lot because we'll be better on the road," he said of winning at Virginia Tech and playing at Madison Square Garden. "We're going to know how to handle situations like this better because we've been through it."

No distractions this week though, right Eniel?

"We're just going up there to play," said Polynice, who has been nursing a knee problem for a month or so and playing through some pain. "Everybody's going to come together and focus on basketball again."

And Polynice's first thoughts on what New York will be all about?

"Expensive burgers and cold weather and snow probably," he said.

And hopefully two more wins for Ole Miss, along with even some talk about the future.

"Get these next two wins, have some fun," Polynice said, "and get next season off with the right start."

Kennedy agrees with Polynice and continues to impress upon everyone that this is mostly about seniors Dwayne Curtis, Jermey Parnell, Brian Smith, and Kenny Williams.

"Will this have the pomp and circumstance of the other Final Four? Of course not," he said. "We can build on this for all the guys who will be returning. But this is still about the upperclassmen and them experiencing all this, and I can't emphasize that enough."


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