A few of the highlights:
The team, coaches and staff went to dinner in Little Italy on Sunday night
The team had an early wake-up today - 7:15 am. After eating breakfast and meeting for awhile, they practiced from 9:30 - 11 am at the New York Athletic Club
Coach Odom, Tre' Kelley and Carlos Powell went to a press conference with the rest of the final four coaches and athletes at the Marriott Marquis at Noon
Tonight the team will eat with Memphis, Maryland and St. Joe's at Tavern on the Green
Tomorrow USC will have a shootaround at 1 pm and then eat pre-game meal at the hotel in Times Square around 5 pm.
Tre' Kelley and Carlos Powell talked about their trip to NYC, the teams mood and what they came to Manhattan to do.
USC: The team practice yesterday and then came up to New York City. Reflections?
Kelley: Practice yesterday was very intense. We knew we had to come up here and play well so we knew we had to get a lot of things done in practice yesterday. Yesterday we worked hard on things ourselves to get better. The trip up here yesterday was fine. We went to dinner last night and then went to bed. We had practice early this morning. We did a lot today. We worked a lot on Maryland's offense and defense today.
USC: What was the mood in practice today?
Kelley: It was high spirited. The guys are really excited to be here. We are very high spirited. The practice was very competitive and we got a lot done. We are very glad to be here.
USC: Do you know the history of the New York Athletic Club?
Kelley: (smiling, chuckles): No, no - I really don't know anything about the New York Athletic Club. It was just another gym to me, but I hear it's very famous.
USC: Tonight you are eating at Tavern on the Green. Are you aware of what type of restaurant you are going to?
Kelley: I have heard a few things about it. Coach Odom told us it's one of the most famous restaurants in the world.
USC: Do you know anyone from Maryland's team?
Kelley: I played AAU basketball with Chris McCray. I know Garrison and I played against Mike Jones in high school. I don't know that much about Maryland's team, but I do know a few individuals on their team.
USC: People call this the other tournament. How do you feel about that?
Kelley: For me, it's the post-season and it's really important. People can call it whatever they want but out of 330 something Division I teams, there are 8 left - four in the NCAA and four in the NIT. That says something. We are still playing now and to still be playing is great.
USC: How will this help us next year? Have you seen anyone improve?
Kelley: Oh yes, I think this will help us next year. It's extra games and practice which is really good. It's given us a lot of confidence. I think Brandon Wallace has really stepped up his game in the last few weeks. So has Tarence Kinsey. Carlos Powell has always been on one of our leaders, but he is playing really well too.
USC: Is there anything you want to do while you are in New York City?
Kelley: Yeah - PLAY BASKETBALL!
USC: Do you have any goals in the championship:
Powell: I want to win the championship. The team wants to win the championship. I want to go out on a good note.
USC: Your teammates have talked about how you have stepped up your play in the last few weeks. Is there something that has gotten into you?
Powell: Knowing the season will end. Something has clicked. The guys said step up and we need you. I am not trying to go home. I need these last two games. I don't' want to quit.
USC: The practice today was very spirited and it seems like everyone was having a lot of fun.
Powell: Since the NIT started we have been having fun. We have been playing together. No one is angry anymore or jealous. A lot of the guys stopped pouting and we are playing lose basketball now.
USC: What do you know about Maryland?
Powell: I have watched them a lot. They trap and run a lot. They have a great coach. It's gonna be a great game. It'll be tough but as long as we play hard and have fun we will be all right.
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