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Buffs Tour NYC Firehouse, Get First Look At MSG

Mar 29, 2011

NEW YORK - Jimmy Duffy was among the lucky ones.

The 40-year-old New York firefighter spent several hours buried in the rubble of the South Tower of the World Trade Center before he was rescued on Sept. 11, 2001.

Duffy was rescued; six members of his FDNY company - Hook & Ladder 24, Engine 1, Third Division - weren't.

"I just got out before the South Tower came down," Duffy, a 13-year firefighting veteran, told Colorado basketball players and coaches Tuesday afternoon on their brief tour of the NYC firehouse.

CU and the FDNY outfit - among the first responders to the 9/11 terrorist attack - have had a 10-year relationship. It started in November 2001 when then-CU football Coach Gary Barnett invited members of the firehouse to a Buffs football game in Folsom Field, where they were honored at halftime.

In return, they took a black-and-gold CU flag, autographed by members of the Buffs coaching staff, back to New York. It flies on the back of one of the company's hook-and-ladder trucks, which answers many of the approximately 4,000 calls annually.

"We appreciate you flying our flag," CU Coach Tad Boyle told the firefighters during the tour of their quarters. "We're all proud of you and what you do."

The firefighters reciprocated, telling Boyle and the Buffs they were proud of them for reaching New York for the NIT semifinals. CU plays Alabama Tuesday in the second semifinal game (7 p.m. MDT, ESPN2).

Senior guard Levi Knutson called the short tour and the narrative by Duffy "breathtaking . . . what these guys do on a regular basis is a lot more important than what we do."

Boyle and the Buffs were presented a plaque from the firefighters featuring the inscription, "Yes, We Do Believe In Miracles." CU Assistant Equipment Director Brendon Smith brought the firefighters a box of long-sleeved CU T-shirts, recently designed for the NIT trip.

From the firehouse, the Buffs went to Madison Square Garden for their game-day shootaround and to get a feel for the court and the venue where they will meet the Crimson Tide with hopes of advancing to Thursday night's NIT championship game.

Tuesday's CU-Alabama game follows the Washington State and Wichita State opener (5 p.m. MDT, ESPN2). The Buffs (24-13) and Crimson Tide (24-11) is the pair of surviving No. 1 seeds, while the Cougars (22-12) is a No. 2 seed and the Shockers (27-8) a No. 4.

Before their shootaround, while waiting for the Crimson Tide to clear the court, the Buffs wandered through hallways adjacent to the arena and saw team photos of the 1969-70 and 1972-73 New York Knicks - NBA champions in both seasons.

"Lot of history here," Boyle said of the arena where the Buffs would play in another six hours. They returned to their hotel on Times Square for the long wait.

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU