More notes, quotes from Big East Media Day :
NEW YORK – The Big East has lost Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame to the ACC and West Virginia to the SEC, but one thing they are not losing is their house. New commissioner Mike Aresco was delighted to announce the Big East had reached a multi-year deal to keep the league tournament in Madison Square Garden.
“You have to be in The Garden,” Aresco said. You may remember, the ACC flirted with the idea of trying to move in there. The new Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be pursuing college basketball games, too, and has the Atlantic 10 Tournament this year. There could be a Battle for New York among power conferences on this level sooner or later.
“It would be hard to argue,” Aresco said, in his opening remarks, “that, top to bottom, we’re not the strongest conference. … The new teams coming in will help us maintain a high level of basketball success.”
I spoke to a few Big East officials here about the UConn’s chances of convincing the league to relent and allow the Huskies to play in the Garden. No one wanted to address it on the record, but the gist is, it’s very, very unlikely. However, there is a Big East presidents meeting schedule for November in Chicago where they could bring the matter up.
Aresco noted only that not allowing an NCAA ineligible team to participate in the Big East Tournament was “a policy that has been establish by our presidents.”
Kevin Ollie joked about being cut from the Celtics by Rick Pitino, in favor of Wayne Turner. “Wayne Turner, man, I don’t know,” Ollie said. “He was a Kentucky guy – it was political, but I got over it.” BTW, Turner played three games with the Celtics in 1999. Ollie played 13 years, retiring in 2010.
Jim Boeheim was asked about motivating a team that was ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, as his Syracuse team was in 1992-93.
“Yeah, we went through that,” he said. “You just tell [the players], ‘you’re season is your season. That’s it. This is your tournament, you’re in it.’ We got off to a rough start, but we finished strong and ended up having one of the best regular seasons we’ve had.” Syracuse lost its first three games in Big East play that year, but finished 20-9, losing to Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament. (The league presidents did allow them to play in The Garden.)
To be competitive, UConn really hopes DeAndre Daniels, an elite recruit, rebounds from his disappointing freshman season. Ryan Boatright, his roommate, sees a different guy now.
“He’s our leading rebounder in practice – I don’t know what got into him,” Boatright said.
Shabazz Napier: “I tell DeAndre all the time, ‘you could be our best player.’ His length and size are second to none. I thought DeAndre’s biggest flaw last year was that he wasn’t willing to work as hard as he needed to. He’s working a lot harder now.”
The Huskies will need the 6-foot-8, but slender Daniels to rebound and run the floor in order to play the “West Coast style with an East Coast mentality” that Ollie has been talking about.
Providence coach Ed Cooley, formally of Fairfield, thinks his team will be upset over being picked last in the league. As for his second year, Cooley said, “I’m not as comfortable, because I know things I didn’t know last year.”
The Big East, he said, “is an animal.”
From the other side, Peyton Siva, preseason Player of the Year from top-ranked Louisville noted, “Providence is ranked 16th and they spanked us by 31 last year. It shows you tough The Big East is.” **************************
Shabazz Napier on postseason ineligibility, “At the beginning of the year, it won’t be on our minds because we’ll have a lot of games left. But when there’s nine games to go, five games to go, it’s going to be upsetting, because we’re going to want to keep playing.” How the Huskies handle that – the game in February and early March – could play a large part in Ollie’s evaluation as he seeks the job on a permanent basis.
Paul Doyle, Jeff Jacobs and I will have lots more from Media Day on the main website and in the Thursday Courant, so be sure to check that all out. Click here to read our update story on the main website.
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