Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NIT Semifinals: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

NEW YORK CITY -­ The young lady, Lindsey, wore a purple Clemson sweatshirt. She was going to New York to meet her husband, a Clemson grad, to take in the NIT. On the train from Secaucus, she spoke of her and spouse’s passion for football but did admit, “your school is in the NIT at the Garden. That is a big thing. You have to be there.”

This conversation served as just another reminder of how big the nation’s oldest postseason tournament is. March Madness is not the sole property of the NCAA tournament. The NIT is prestigious, and the fans traveling from Texas, Minneapolis and Tallahassee realize it is an exciting time to get to New York and see your team contend on the hallowed Garden floor in pursuit of a national championship.

The side trips, sights, sounds and experience that is New York are an added feature to those visiting from out of town.

New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson was in attendance and chatted at halftime of the first game with ESPN analyst Bobby Knight. Woodson can remember to exact detail the day he played for the Hoosiers when they captured the 1979 title. “The NIT is still a very big tournament,” Woodson said. “Though Coach Knight and I both said if we were playing, we would sell the place out.”

SMU coach Larry Brown has enjoyed success on various levels during his storied coaching career. Defeating Clemson to get a shot at a NIT title left him, as one who respects the game and tradition, very humbled.

Granted, the tournament is short on press clippings these days, but there is no denying its allure, outstanding tradition and importance to players, coaches and fans alike.

Commuters make their way to and from Madison Square Garden:
A Clemson assistant supervises pregame warmups:
Fran and Meg Fraschilla with NYU standout freshman Kaitlyn Read...she attended high school with Fran and Meg's son Matt in Dallas and is a family friend rooting for SMU:
New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson and his college mentor Bobby Knight share a moment together:
Their uniforms are different, but the SMU band is good, even playing the Beatles' "Back in the U.S.S.R."
Minnesota cheerleaders hold their pregame meeting before taking the court:
Like father, like son as Richard Pitino reacts to a play on the floor:
Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown catches up with longtime friend and New York college basketball cult legend Robert Elkin after meeting the media:

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