Big East M5: Doomsday Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 17th, 2012


  1. The writing was on the wall long before the announcement was made but Saturday marked the end of the Big East conference as we all knew it. As expected, the league’s seven catholic schools — Villanova, Marquette, Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and DePaulannounced they were leaving the conference together with the assumed departure date tentatively set as June 30, 2015. Although the announcement should sadden any Big East basketball fan now staring at a shell of the conference, the move makes perfect sense for the seven considering none of the group fields a FBS football program and football is the sport that has dictated all of the money-grabbing and maneuvering. Once it became clear that the conference cared less about its basketball pedigree and more about salvaging its standing in the football community, the Catholic Seven were all but gone. There is still much to be played out, however, as many wonder whether the seven will form their own conference and try to recruit other basketball schools like Xavier and Butler, or whether they will try to latch on with another conference. Needless to say, this is huge news in our corner of the blogosphere and rest assured we will have plenty more analysis, memories, and news to share as the weeks progress.
  2. One Big East player who was probably happy to see the conference realignment news take center stage was Syracuse‘s sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams, as he got to watch news of his shoplifting incident slip into the background amidst all the conference realignment chaos. Rumors of the incident spread last week as photos of what appeared to be Carter-Williams being led down a mall escalator in handcuffs circulated around Twitter, and the Syracuse Post-Standard did the rest of the legwork. The gist of it is that Carter-Williams was caught trying to shoplift a bathrobe and gloves from a Lord & Taylor outlet at the mall. He was caught, worked everything out with the store, and the police did not have to get involved. I have seen some rip into Carter-Williams for this and while there is no denying his judgment (as well as his thieving ability) were poor, I am tempted to give him a break here. By all accounts he acknowledged his error, cooperated with the store, and reimbursed them and then some from what he was trying to steal. That sounds like the actions of a kid who knows he did a dumb thing and accepted his punishment. Given all the other sorts of mishaps that college players make news for, I will refrain from calling Carter-Williams a criminal who needs to be suspended and just say this was a kid who made a dumb decision and is still paying for it.
  3. The news surrounding Syracuse basketball isn’t all negative, however, as legendary coach and quote Jim Boeheim is set to win his 900th career game tonight, assuming his Orange can handle a middling Detroit team. If he wins, he will join Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight as the only coaches in Division I history to reach that plateau. The fact that a coach can win 900 games in a career is impressive in and of itself, but its his longevity and loyalty that make this feat so remarkable. Unlike Krzyzewski and Knight, all of Boeheim’s wins have come at his alma mater, as he hasn’t coached at any other school in his long and storied career. We are also talking about a coach who, since taking over the program in 1976, has failed to reach 20 wins in a season just twice and has never won fewer than 16 games in a single year. You can scour the Internet on your own if you are looking for more in-depth celebrations of Boeheim’s achievement, but Boeheim has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest collegiate coaches in any sport, as if there was ever any doubt.
  4. The move out of the Big East could pay additional dividends for Providence coach Ed Cooley as the university’s president, Rev. Brian J. Shanley O.P., indicated that the school would be looking into extending Cooley’s contract to ensure he is at the helm for the foreseeable future. Cooley’s recruiting prowess is well-documented, but his ability to produce winning teams at Providence is not.  That is not to say he can’t do it, it is just to say that he has barely gotten his feet wet at the school, and so handing him an extension at this juncture may be dangerous if the team fails to live up to expectations over the course of the next three or four years. That said, Providence doesn’t have the luxury of being an elite job and the current conference instability doesn’t make it any more appealing. In order to ensure Cooley doesn’t jump ship if things go wrong, the university is willing to extend him now. It is a risky move but the right one as the Friars search for stability and a new home to continue their rebuilding efforts.
  5. Tim Sullivan, a columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, hit the nail on the head when he called the Louisville basketball team a “roller derby”. Saturday’s gritty win against Memphis was all the evidence that Sullivan needed as the Cardinals let the Tigers jump out to a huge early lead only to claw back into the game in the second half and eventually emerge victorious. The offense and even the defense for stretches was not a pretty sight, but Rick Pitino’s bunch forced 24 turnovers and drew 33 free throws, scratching out a quality win any way they could against the high-flying athletes of Memphis. The game was so intense that even Pitino couldn’t resist a last-minute jab at a heckler after the Cardinals had won the game. It doesn’t take a basketball expert to see this is going to be a theme for the Cardinals all season long. Some teams have smooth offensive players and tons of NBA talent; the Cardinals have some streaky shooters, a penetrating point guard, a formidable frontcourt, and nearly unmatched competitiveness. That is how they are going to win games this season and I bet if you asked Pitino, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
mlemaire (324 Posts)

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