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BYU basketball getting taste of Big Apple

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 9:28 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young Cougars players Brock Zylstra, Brandon Davies, and Tyler Haws walk through Times Square prior to their NIT Final Four game in New York City Monday, April 1, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars players Brock Zylstra, Brandon Davies, and Tyler Haws walk through Times Square prior to their NIT Final Four game in New York City Monday, April 1, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

NEW YORK — As BYU's Brandon Davies, Tyler Haws and Brock Zylstra strolled through crowded Times Square on Monday afternoon, they attracted quite a bit of attention.

Maybe it was the fact that they're tall, and were being followed by cameras. But bystanders started gawking at the Cougar trio. Some strangers took photos of them, and some posed for photos next to them, not knowing exactly who they were.

"Are they NBA players?" asked one man.

After fulfilling media obligations Monday at the Marriott Marquis Hotel — answering questions about Tuesday's National Invitation Tournament game against Baylor — Davies, Haws and Zylstra took some time to soak up the Big Apple atmosphere.

The Cougars arrived Sunday and spent that night walking around Times Square and dining on some world-famous New York pizza.

Brigham Young Cougars player Brandon Davies in interviewed prior to their NIT Final Four game in New York City Monday, April 1, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars player Brandon Davies in interviewed prior to their NIT Final Four game in New York City Monday, April 1, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"I like Times Square. I went to a bunch of stores," Davies said. "But there's too many people for me. I come from the little town of Provo. There's too much going on at one time for me."

"It's a different city, for sure," Haws said. "A lot of very nice people here. It's been fun so far."

The Cougars practiced Monday morning at the New York Athletic Club and spent the evening at an NIT banquet near Central Park.

Because a New York Rangers hockey game was scheduled for Monday, BYU wasn't able to practice at Madison Square Garden, the site of Tuesday's game.

Zylstra said the fact they are playing in the NIT Final Four hasn't quite sunk in yet. But that will probably change once BYU arrives at Madison Square Garden.

Brigham Young Cougars players Tyler Haws, Brock Zylstra and Brandon Davies at interviewed by media prior to their NIT Final Four game in New York City Monday, April 1, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars players Tyler Haws, Brock Zylstra and Brandon Davies at interviewed by media prior to their NIT Final Four game in New York City Monday, April 1, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"Maybe it will become more real then," Zylstra said. "We look pretty calm, ready to take this on. I don't see anyone who's nervous right now. But that can change when you step in there and the ball gets thrown up."

Haws said the Cougars are ready for Madison Square Garden.

"We've played in some big environments, on big stages this year," he said. "We've played at the Barclays Center and EnergySolutions Arena. We've been on the road at Gonzaga. So I think guys are kind of over that. We're hungry to get a few more wins."

FAMILY SUPPORT: Quite a few friends and relatives of BYU players have made the journey to New York.

"Everybody but my younger brother and his wife came. Nine of us, including my wife and daughter," said Zylstra.

Brigham Young Cougars players Tyler Haws, Brock Zylstra and Brandon Davies walk through Times Square prior to their NIT Final Four game in New York City Monday, April 1, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars players Tyler Haws, Brock Zylstra and Brandon Davies walk through Times Square prior to their NIT Final Four game in New York City Monday, April 1, 2013. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Haws' parents, his sister, and his younger brother, T.J. — a junior at Lone Peak High and a future Cougar — are in town as well.

"There will be a nice Haws clan around," Haws said.

INJURY UPDATE: BYU coach Dave Rose said injured forward Josh Sharp practiced a little Monday, but added that he's "doubtful" for Tuesday's game.

NOTES: BYU has a record of 15-8 all-time in the NIT, including titles in 1951 and 1966 … BYU's game with Baylor will tie for the latest game played into a calendar year at the end of a season in program history. The Cougars also played on April 2, 1903 — exactly 100 years ago. That resulted in a 16-10 loss to Colorado at home.

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