Big East M5: 02.14.13 EditionPosted by Dan Lyons on February 14th, 2013
- Syracuse and UConn played for the final time as Big East rivals at the XL Center in Hartford on Wednesday night. It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, and after an incredibly poor offensive performance by the Orange, UConn captured a 66-58 win. However, the postgame headlines weren’t about the end of a major college basketball rivalry or another hiccup by a top 10 Syracuse squad. Rather, in true Jim Boeheim-ian fashion, a press conference has become the most notable part of what was otherwise a historic night. Earlier in the evening, ESPN’s Andy Katz reported that he had learned that James Southerland’s academic issues, for which the forward missed six games, stemmed from two paragraphs in a term paper. What seemed like an interesting scoop at the time turned into a major issue when Boeheim refused to answer Katz’s questions after the game, calling him “an idiot” and “disloyal.” If Katz, who has had solid access to the Syracuse program in the past, reported on something that was supposed to be off the record, then Boeheim has a gripe. The Auburn Citizen‘s Ben Meyers has a great take on the situation; while he believes that the situation set Boeheim off, the Syracuse head coach used the issue to take attention off of his team’s bad play, a technique that he has successfully used in the past.
- The play in the Big East this season has been relatively sloppy and unbecoming of what has been arguably the greatest basketball conference in the country. Grantland‘s Charles P. Pierce relates this, specifically Monday night’s ugly Georgetown-Marquette match-up, to the overall state of the Big East: “As the game was a perfect fractal view of the season, the season, of course, is a perfect fractal view of what’s going on in college basketball, generally. The sport has lost its logic. It has lapsed into incoherence, and nowhere more obviously than in the Big East, once the premier conference in the country, and now a listing hulk that everyone expects to be demolished and sold for parts in the very near future.” Pierce goes on to describe the conference’s break-up, which he blames on the “heroin of college sports,” football, and waxes poetic on the league which we all love. It’s a great read for Big East fans.
- Russ Smith has certainly earned his “Russdiculous” nickname this season, for better and for worse. In a post on the Louisville site “Card Game”, Charlie Springer contends that Smith hasn’t yet proven that he is “comfortable as a teammate,” and that his occasional moments of basketball greatness are often countered when the guard goes rogue and makes poor decisions. The Cards haven’t gotten some of the production that they expected out of a number of their players, including Peyton Siva, who many expected to take a jump to stardom. Smith, eccentric play and all, is one of the Cardinals who has actually exceeded expectations, so much so that he’s won a few games by himself this year. Rick Pitino needs to find a way to bottle that energy and ability in order to keep the talented junior from blowing his own team’s season up.
- Once upon a time, Pat Forde called Rutgers–Seton Hall one of the hottest rivalries in the country. This was just a few years ago, so it’s unclear what time period Forde was describing, but I’ll take his word for it. However, today the battle for New Jersey is dying, and not because of conference realignment or the other normal factors. It’s being killed by apathy. Under 5,000 people filled the RAC for the 2013 edition of this showdown, and by the sound of Steve Politi’s article on the subject, those who were there didn’t seem surprised by the proceedings. Rutgers squeaked out a 57-55 victory over its intrastate rivals in a game between two teams destined for mediocrity. Seton Hall last made the NCAA tournament in 2006; Rutgers, 1991. New Jersey has seen some bad basketball over the years, and interest in the sport just isn’t there to the point where the two fan bases can overcome all those lean years.
- It remains to be seen who the Catholic Seven look to recruit when they break off and form their own league, but one hot name is Xavier, and current athletic director Mike Bobinski (who, incidentally, is leaving the school for the Georgia Tech job) recently stated that if the C7 looks his school’s way, it will have to at least listen. Xavier is a Jesuit school in Cincinnati, a metropolitan area the C7 loses when the Big East with the hometown Bearcats, and they have a very good basketball history. The Musketeers certainly seem to be a very solid fit for the burgeoning conference.