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The captain reflects on the Preseason NIT, looks ahead

By Dan Rosen
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 30, 1999
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What are your overall thoughts of the Preseason NIT as a whole?

Well, overall, as a whole, the great thing was that we did win two games out there in New York and four overall, and the great news was that we really gelled together as a team. We played real well and even the final game, Mike Wright didn't have one of his best games and the other guys picked it up, and that shows that we can win as a nucleus and as a team.

Was there any question of Wright's attitude after the game? Was he down on himself after the game or was he just happy that you won?

The thing that I was most proud of with Michael Wright, and even the coaches would say this, the guy was so upbeat and so positive. If you saw on TV, he was cheering and he was such a team guy. Most guys around the county, if they had a bad game, no matter win or lose, they would be so disappointed or depressed, but he was such a winner. He is a team guy, and a flat out winner, period.

What did you guys do for Thanksgiving?

We worked out, we had practice and then we had a team dinner with all the other NIT teams. We just ate there with the other teams and watched film afterwards. Kind of your normal basketball day and Thanksgiving day.

What did Jason (Gardner) and Gilbert (Arenas) think of their first road trip and it being to New York and Madison Square Garden?

Well, they were real happy after they got all-tournament MVP. They enjoyed the road trip, it was a good road trip. It is good for them to play against that type of competition and be in that type of atmosphere. It is a good experience for them. Being on a neutral court is just like the NCAA Tournament setting. But, we will be tested again. Our first road game is really this Saturday against a great Texas team.

What do you think of Texas after watching them against Michigan State?

Texas is good. They have a tremendous front line in Gabe Muoneke, Chris Owens and Chris Mihm and that is going to be fun to watch against our front line in Richard Jefferson, Mike Wright and Loren Woods, so it is going to be a great game. First we have to take care of business against BYU before we can get there.

What do you guys know about BYU, last year it was the game where 'Gene elbowed Brett Jepson?'

With BYU, they are a real, real scrappy team. They play extremely hard, great shooters. Almost like an Indiana team or a Princeton team. They are just a team that moves well without the ball. They are going to be feisty. They aren't great athletes, but they are just guys that can play the game, a real fundamental team.

What do you think about being No. 4 in the nation already?

Oh, I think it is awesome, tremendous. Stanford is No. 3 and that is great for the Pac-10. I think it is a great respect for us. But again, we want No. 1 at the end of the season, that is what we want most.

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