Alabama’s basketball team will play in New York City this week as part of the 2K Sports Classic, which benefits the Wounded Warrior Project, and Tide coach Anthony Grant said the team will get to do a lot of fun things while in the Big Apple.
“They get to go play basketball,” he said, smiling. “And be around a great group of guys and play for a great cause.”
In other words, this is a business trip. Alabama (2-0) will play in the semifinals against Oregon State on Thursday at 6 p.m. Purdue and Villanova play in the other semifinal. The two losers will play Friday at 4 p.m. on ESPNU, while the winners will face off at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
They’ll play in Madison Square Garden, which the Tide visited a couple of years ago for the NIT.
“Well, this is game three for us so every experience is going to be a different experience,” Grant said. “We had some of our guys play in Madison Square Garden a couple of years ago in the NIT, so hopefully we’ll have our veterans like Andrew (Steele) and some of the other guys that will be able to let our guys know what to expect.
“However, it is a different opponent, it’s a different situation. The thing I talked to our guys about is every court we play on is going to be 94-by-50. The rim is going to be 10 feet, so we have to focus on what we need to do to give us a chance to win.”
Steele recalled playing in Madison Square Garden for the first time.
“The first time I think we got goosebumps, but I know for me, Trevor (Releford) and Carl (Engstrom), it will be our second time so I think we’ll be able to help our young guys put it out of their mind,” Steele said. “I’m sure for them it’s going to be an exciting environment, but once the game starts we know we’re there on a business trip to win.”