Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent. He has been at the Big East Tournament this week taking in all of the action. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.
Austin Croshere. That name evokes the first true memory I have of Big East basketball. I’m not even making this up for effect.
It was 1995. My family had finally taken the plunge and signed up for, that’s right, cable television. I was young. Third or fourth grade, and nearly all of my college basketball consumption to date was through March Madness on CBS. I really liked Duke, but I also really didn’t know any better. Then when the number of available channels on my family’s living room television ballooned from five to 55, I became exposed to a whole new world. Most importantly for the development of my nascent mind: Championship Week.
In that year’s Big East Tournament, Austin Croshere was a sophomore role player at Providence College. The Friars were the defending champions, but had lost key players from a season before and limped into Madison Square Garden with a 7-11 conference record. In the Friars’ quarterfinal game against Syracuse, the first sporting event broadcast on cable in my home, Croshere produced an unforgettable performance. He scored a career-high 28 points – 18 of those in the game’s final 10 minutes – and led the Friars to a dramatic upset overtime victory. The New York Post‘s Howard Blatt called Croshere “an outrageous force” in his game recap. It was truly mesmerizing theater, and something you couldn’t have watched on channels 6, 8 or 13.
On its proverbial headstone, the now old Big East Conference should have an epitaph that is something along the lines of “Never be the same again.” For me, its existence began with Austin Croshere, and ended with Montrezl Harrell. Live, right in front of me. A moment in time where I actually believe I was in the center of the universe.