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Old 03-17-2014, 09:23 AM   #1
Thorpesaurous
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Default 2014 Big East

So as many of you know, I've been going to the Big East tournament for nearly 25 years now. 1990 was my first year, as a precocious middle schooler. And frankly every year the rush never wears off. The weather changing, the long train rides, the opulant drinking and eating, it's coinciding with St. Pats on Saturday for the title game so regularly. It hasn't just been something I do, but rather something that's become a part of me. Aquaintences will see a game on and wonder where I'm sitting.

So this year, I was a bit on the fence. As the documentary last night was pointing out, it isn't exactly what it used to be. There's an NCAA tournament group at The Garden the 28th and 29th, so I had been eyeing that as a possible replacement. I just wasn't keen on the idea of spending 1000 bucks to see Depaul play Seton Hall, or whatever other nonsense was gonna get thrown out there. But last minute a friend of mine, the guy who is a Georgetown Alum who has more money than he knows what to do with, and has the Bulls Season Tickets on the floor, calls me to ask if I need seats.

I hadn't seen him since last April. I blew out my achilles a week after being out in Chicago for a cancer fund raiser for his son. So it's been a while. I called my usual partner, and we knew B would get us great seats, so we both figured what the hell. Why break the streak when we're going to get great seats we probably won't pay for.

We wound up 4 rows behind press row. We were toward the baseline, about even with the FT line. This was for the four game Thursday Session.

We did our typical 8:30 train down. Skipped our usual drinking on the train because we're getting old. Replacing a depressent like alcohol with an upper like caffien really paid off as the day wore on. We made it to the Blarney Rock with time plenty of time to spare, and were able to enjoy breakfast.

We were in Section 12, which by all accounts was a spectacular seat, but when I got in, even I was surprised. It was fourth row behind the press table. So close, that the guys who re-did the Garden, had actually thought to put in a small replay screen on the inner part of the big jumbotron, to make seeing replays easier for the guys in that section, because it's just that close. The things you could hear, as far as the softness of the rim, the thud of the ball on the floor, and the sneakers squeaking, was something I have really only heard the last time I was with B at the Bulls game against The Nets that went three OTs last year. And then it was only from halftime on, as opposed to four games of this. I got to meet Erin Andrews, who is insanely tall, and while strikingly beautifull, not really my thing. And I got to shake hands with Gus, who sort of big timed me a bit. And also with Bill Raftery, who was every bit as cool as I'd expected him to be. Just a guy who flys all over the game to watch basketball, who eats and drinks in every city in the country. The seats also included access to The Delta Club, which is cut off from most of the arena. It was a super decked out bar. And a great spot to hang out between games or during halftimes.

The basketball was better than I expected, even though it wasn't perhaps at the level I've grown accustomed too. Three of the Thursday games were excellent. It opened with Seton Hall upsetting Villanova at the buzzer. Nova entered the game third in the country, and it took all of about 4 minutes to think they were a strong candidate for upset potential in the big tournament, weather they won the Big East or not. They were super small. They played at a tempo that bordered on out of control. And they were launching threes at a rate that would just kill them if they didn't fall. They didn't, and it did. We had bet on them laying 10 points, and even down 13, it didn't feel over. They just play so fast that it felt like they could make that up and build a 12 point lead of their own in just a few minutes if a few things dropped. But it's a terrible way to play to me.

The next game was a game that I had some interest in because Providence coach Ed Cooley is a guy I'd met a bunch while he coached at Fairfield, my alma mater. A really nice guy, and super smart basketball guy, he's a Providence native, and is inclined to say things like he wouldn't leave The Friars for Duke. They were playing a St. John's team I had seen in person Super Bowl Saturday whip up on Marquette in a what was really a rock fight. I had no faith in The Johnie's five man switching defense being able to overcome an inept offense that features not really a single basketball player. So we took Providence as a slight underdog, and came away incredibly impressed. Providence Went super big. They're 23 zone morphed into a 32, with 6-10 250 lb PF Batts pairing with the enormous 7+ Derosiers, who while not great, is a decent athlete who is willing to compete. With no ability to space, The Johnnies threw themselves at the middle of the zone, and came away with little throughout.

The break took us to Nik and Stefs for a 500 dollar dinner before the tip between the four of us. A chance to really catch up. B's brother was with us, and it's always fun when everyone is as easy to talk to as we all were. My friend Kevin was never that close with B, but even he was a little surprised at how easy every one was. Four guys argueing over the check is always a good sign, and B's brother wound up picking it up, which was incredibly and unnecessarily generous.

Game three we skipped gambling on. It was an awfull Depaul team vs. Creighton, but the number was a huge 16.5. Anyone who knows college basketball knows a blowout could be 10 points, so I didn't want to lay that much. It was my first experience seeing Doug McDermott live, and was incredibly impressed. This isn't just a shooter. He's much bigger than I expected. I believe he's listed at 6-8, and I was expecting 6-6, but I would say he appeared closer to 6-10. And his movement skills were remarkable. He's not explosive or fast, but he's incredibly smooth and balanced. He ran off curls a ton, and his ability to change direction coming off them was noticable. And he took the ball in transition more than once. Dropping off one handed touch passes, and once throwing a cross court lefty skip pass right off the bounce directly in front of us, that I'm sure didn't look like much on TV, but was no small deal seeing it. The kid can flat out play. He competes on the boards. His post game is totally playable. He'll throw that Dirk knee up shot at you in a flash. And the ball handling was better than I expected. And the jumper is as pure as I'd imagined. You could tell especially in warm ups, when the misses came off so incredibly soft. He set a Big East first half record with 27, and just seemed like he could do whatever he wanted. They won and covered, although there were moments I was thrilled I didn't bet on them. You don't want to be up 20 all game and win by 15 because the last five minutes didn't matter and you choked up a cover.
The team was good but not great. They have a bunch of smart guys. But they never got to the free throw line. Way to dependent on face up shots. But McDermott will be a really good pro. He's a much better player than Kyle Korver. I had thrown out Matt Harpring somewhere, but he's much better than that. If he goes 12, he'll outplay three or four of the guys taken ahead of him. The jumper will keep him from busting, and gun to my head right now, I'd take him over Marcus Smart. Won't happen, but he's just got so much fitt-ability, I think he's more plug and play than a guy who I'm not sure how good he is without the ball, and not sure he's good enough I want to build my franchise around him having it. McDermott was bad defensively. And not because he couldn't move his feet or anything. He just noticably got lost more than once, which is a little scary for a guy that instinctive, but I'd rather try to drill that out of him. More than once he had his back facing up court, which is just like an amatuerish mistake. Lost his guy behind him a few times. Just real problems unrelated to his limited athleticism, and when the athleticism is limited, you can't have those mistakes.

The final game was Marquette Xavier. Simaj Christon was another guy I wanted to see, and he didn't disappoint either. A bit out of control at times, but clearly a pro. And Xavier put some really good big athletes on the floor. We bet on that game too with Xavier inexplicably getting a point from the Marquette team, who while really tough, I saw lose the rock throwing contest to St. Johns a month ago. After making the bet, I realized I didn't know nearly enough about Xavier, but I was more betting against Marquette.

We stayed the full four. Casually walked back to Grand Central. Stopped for a drink at a bar we found that Super Bowl Saturday near the trains. Saw a fight, and caught the last train to Clarksville. It was a truely great day. I gave my Friday seats, which weren't quite as good, to a girl I'd been talking to a few weeks who's a Providence Alum (which sub conciously may have impacted my gambling choices). She goes to the city every year for St. Pats anyway, so she was gonna be around.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:23 AM   #2
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I slept all day Friday. I woke up at 6:15 and thought hell, I'll go to work, only to realize after showering and getting dressed that it was pm. We rode Providence who we really liked in person, and hit again from our couches. And then I hit on Creighton a second time. Saturday I had recovered, and almost on a whim decided to head back down for the title game. I spoke to Maggie, and she was heading out with her friends, so I figured I'd meet up with them, then leave for the game, and come back and hook back up. I wanted to take Providence, which my friend did, but I didn't want to be in the arena and see McDermott go off and not be able to enjoy it, so I sat it out. I wound up finding a single ticket in 206, dead on the mid court, about halfway up, but in the first row, and had access to a TV so I could hear the broadcast which was cool. It was fascinating watching coach Cooley, who's double big zone had morphed again. Derosiers never shared the court with Batts that night. Going smaller allowed them to chase McDermott and company more efficiently. Cotton is a tough little bastard. And between him and Batts offensively, I feel this team is a scary 11 seed. They play two man between those two, with Batts able to post up and kick to shooters, and Cotton is able to take over when things fall apart or they need something. Combine that with a versatile defense, and they're not terrible. I wound up sitting next to another loser who came alone. He comes up from DC for the tournament just because he loves basketball. And he was really impressive. He knew at least as much basketball as me. He was better with players and coaches. Clearly a hoops junkie. He even knew Coach Ed coached at FU before I mentioned it, so I knew right away this guy was the real deal. My ability to read X's and O's was a bit better, but overall it was a really pleasant experience with a stranger.

The place was super chippy. The Creighton fans had an out to prove something attitude, and seemed to feel they were underrated because they were white and from Nebraska, and coming to "the Big City". There was a definite Hoosiers vibe. But to be fair, from Providence's end, they were sort of like "**** you trying to play the David roll to our Goliath, we've spent the last decade getting kicked around by Syracuse and Uconn and Pitt and Louisville and West Virginia, and nobody gives a shit if your white". It was a palpable feeling. And I saw more than one shovey argument that saw people get moved. And by not gambling I got to really enjoy how well Providence played, and McDermott's attempt to shoot Creighton back into the game.

I left and called Maggie, but she had already been put to bed back in queens, and spent the night wondering the street in the afterglow of the tournament and moreso the St. Pats festivities. I grabbed the 2:07 and watched the ACC from bed on Sunday. It was a truely great weekend. If you've never been to the city, and you love basketball, and you can enjoy yourself on vacation by just sort of melting into a city, and not necessarily going on every tourist trip, you owe it to yourself to get to this tournament. In fact I'd say it's a shame you didn't get here a few years ago, but it's still a great way to experience the city.

Now I gotta start looking for those regional final tickets for next weekend.
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:45 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2014 Big East

Seems like you make a thread about the Big East every year and it makes me jealous that I didn't go every time. Really cool to hear about the games and the atmosphere of the city.

Having a vacation where you just kind of melt into the city and fall into the atmosphere sounds right up my alley. Maybe next year I will finally make it out to NYC for it.

How would you feel about another league replacing the Big East as the MSG tournament? I know that there are rumors the ACC might take that spot eventually.
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Old 03-17-2014, 11:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2014 Big East

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jailblazers7
Seems like you make a thread about the Big East every year and it makes me jealous that I didn't go every time. Really cool to hear about the games and the atmosphere of the city.

Having a vacation where you just kind of melt into the city and fall into the atmosphere sounds right up my alley. Maybe next year I will finally make it out to NYC for it.

How would you feel about another league replacing the Big East as the MSG tournament? I know that there are rumors the ACC might take that spot eventually.


I'm a Syracuse fan, so I'd kill for the ACC to move up here. And even without them, the better the leauge the happier I'd be. However I'd love to go back in time and start the real Big East over again. I think there is something to those small Catholic northeastern schools, and the nature of the northeastern catholic high school culture.

I will say The Garden and The City themselves are a big part of the experience. As I understand it, other conferences essentially lease out the facilities they run their tournaments in. So they have a lot of control over what goes on at these tournaments. Pricing puts in more students. And for a league like the Big 10, I know they don't server alcohol, which to me is just unamerican. But The Big East is run the other way around. The Garden pays for the right to run the tournament. In fact I think some of those rumors stem from their working on getting out of their contract based on a breach of services rendered because that league isn't what they payed for.

As such, The Big East seems to feel a little different, at least according to my buddy B. The crowd is a little older. The student sections are there, but it's expensive to travel to the city and stay a week, so you get more of an alumni vibe. I would go so far as to say maybe it's not as rowdy, but that's not really fair. It's just a different, more grown up type of rowdy. Probably less loud and more mean spirited in a lot of ways. The city is filled with high end alumni (losing Syracuse killed them, and Notre Dame was a bigger hit than the general public probably considered). But there's a great vibe of people re-living the golden years. And overconsuming but in a functional way is I'm sure more common than it is among students.

Having a group like "The Cameron Crazies" try to take over the Garden would be interesting. I'm just not sure it would happen the way they think.

Spending a week in the city, catching a show, wandering around to see the sights, heading to SoHo to catch a comedy club show, hit a club, then load up on basketball, and close out the week soaking up the St. Pats vibe in the city would be to me a perfect vacation. But then again I get sunburn and aint all the fond of beaches, so what do I know.
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Old 03-17-2014, 11:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: 2014 Big East

Just a few pics I'm having trouble getting in here. The first is my Championship game seats, the second is The Empire State building lit up for St. Pats, and the third is from Thursday's session.

https://blu169.mail.live.com/att/Get...UvanBlZw_3d_3d

https://blu169.mail.live.com/att/Get...UvanBlZw_3d_3d

https://blu169.mail.live.com/att/Get...UvanBlZw_3d_3d

Last edited by Thorpesaurous : 03-17-2014 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 03-17-2014, 04:05 PM   #6
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I don't know, I think they are a ton of "Cameron Crazies" within traveling distance of that that area. Most in the ACC have referred to New Jersey as basically a sister city with Durham for years. Not sure if that's the perception there, but it is in the south. In general, I believe there's a good amount of ACC alumni in New York.

The ACC is planing to move to Barclays Center for a couple years in the near future. That should be interesting. MSG is locked up with the Big East for a long while. I think over the next decade, at least. I'll probably travel up there once to see the facilities when it happens. I heard the venue is top notch.

The ACC Tournament will never permanently move away from North Carolina. I can promise you that. The Big Four wouldn't allow it and the ACC is a fundamentally southern rooted conference. I'm not even sure the smaller schools beneath the Mason–Dixon would travel up to New York. That said, the old ACC Tournament lost much it's luster once they let in the Big East into the conference the first time around. I wouldn't mind a rotation between Greensboro (or Charlotte), DC, and Brooklyn for a while. See how that works out. Maybe throw in Chicago for Louisville and ND. Make it in North Carolina every 2-3 years and rotate the rest inbetween.

Last edited by IGotACoolStory : 03-17-2014 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 03-17-2014, 04:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2014 Big East

Quote:
Originally Posted by IGotACoolStory
I don't know, I think they are a ton of "Cameron Crazies" within traveling distance of that that area. Most in the ACC have referred to New Jersey as basically a sister city with Durham for years. Not sure if that's the perception there, but it is in the south. In general, I believe there's a good amount of ACC alumni in New York.

The ACC is planing to move to Barclays Center for a couple years in the near future. That should be interesting. MSG is locked up with the Big East for a long while. I think over the next decade, at least. I'll probably travel up there once to see the facilities when it happens. I heard the venue is top notch.

The ACC Tournament will never permanently move away from North Carolina. I can promise you that. The Big Four wouldn't allow it and the ACC is a fundamentally southern rooted conference. I'm not even sure the smaller schools beneath the Mason–Dixon would travel up to New York. That said, the old ACC Tournament lost much it's luster once they let in the Big East into the conference the first time around. I wouldn't mind a rotation between Greensboro (or Charlotte), DC, and Brooklyn for a while. See how that works out. Maybe throw in Chicago for Louisville and ND. Make it in North Carolina every 2-3 years and rotate the rest inbetween.


I was quite tempted to do the A10 this year. I have a friend who played at Southern under the coach who's at GW now, and there was a fair amount of quality basketball in the conference this year. St. Louis, GW, St. Joe's, were all pretty good.
And the Barclays is a nice arena. My first trip there I really felt it was a better facility than The Garden. But that was before The Garden's remodel. And combined with the fact that, even being a guy who has friends in, and enjoys, Brooklyn a lot, it doesn't have the feeling that mid town Manhattan generates. Brooklyn doesn't feel like "The City". Broadway and Time's Square and having The Empire State Building around every corner is a major element of the tournament being in New York. And now that MSG is redone, I have to admit it's a nicer facility. With some of the best concessions I've ever had at a sporting event to boot.

It's not so much that I don't think the ACC would travel, or doesn't have the enough northern fan base, so much as I don't think the riotous younger crowds that seem to generate in the other tournaments would be able to come out. The pricing of the tournament seems to limit the student sections, and even the younger alumni, and you get an older more established type of crowd, who while certainly has a good time, is having a different kind of good time that I think what is associated with most college basketball games.
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Old 03-17-2014, 06:12 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2014 Big East

great read thorp... but the pics aren't working. try using imgur.com so we can see
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Old 03-17-2014, 08:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorpesaurous
I was quite tempted to do the A10 this year. I have a friend who played at Southern under the coach who's at GW now, and there was a fair amount of quality basketball in the conference this year. St. Louis, GW, St. Joe's, were all pretty good.
And the Barclays is a nice arena. My first trip there I really felt it was a better facility than The Garden. But that was before The Garden's remodel. And combined with the fact that, even being a guy who has friends in, and enjoys, Brooklyn a lot, it doesn't have the feeling that mid town Manhattan generates. Brooklyn doesn't feel like "The City". Broadway and Time's Square and having The Empire State Building around every corner is a major element of the tournament being in New York. And now that MSG is redone, I have to admit it's a nicer facility. With some of the best concessions I've ever had at a sporting event to boot.

It's not so much that I don't think the ACC would travel, or doesn't have the enough northern fan base, so much as I don't think the riotous younger crowds that seem to generate in the other tournaments would be able to come out. The pricing of the tournament seems to limit the student sections, and even the younger alumni, and you get an older more established type of crowd, who while certainly has a good time, is having a different kind of good time that I think what is associated with most college basketball games.

I never really associated conference tournaments (in major conferences) with student crowds. To me, it's always had more of a AAU feel, except with rooting interests. If I'm going to a conference tournament, it's just as much to sit back and enjoy watching basketball all day as it is cheering for a specific team.

Certainly the prices part is true, as well as the students typically being louder. From experience, though (and I think this was probably the same in the old Big East?), a good amount of the buzz is generated from the quality of game and the fan bases in the stands with no rooting interests. And by no rooting interests, I mean those not cheering for a team to win, but for a team to lose. They are everywhere and it's kind of what makes the whole environment amusing.

Actually, the NCAA Tournament is more analogous than an AAU tournament. Except more familiar because everyone watched all these players for the last 3+ months.

Since I got you here, what are you thoughts about Providence? UNC fan and we got them in the first round. All I know is that Bryce Cotton is good, they only go 6 deep, and they were on the bubble before the Big East Tournament.
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IGotACoolStory
I never really associated conference tournaments (in major conferences) with student crowds. To me, it's always had more of a AAU feel, except with rooting interests. If I'm going to a conference tournament, it's just as much to sit back and enjoy watching basketball all day as it is cheering for a specific team.

Certainly the prices part is true, as well as the students typically being louder. From experience, though (and I think this was probably the same in the old Big East?), a good amount of the buzz is generated from the quality of game and the fan bases in the stands with no rooting interests. And by no rooting interests, I mean those not cheering for a team to win, but for a team to lose. They are everywhere and it's kind of what makes the whole environment amusing.

Actually, the NCAA Tournament is more analogous than an AAU tournament. Except more familiar because everyone watched all these players for the last 3+ months.

Since I got you here, what are you thoughts about Providence? UNC fan and we got them in the first round. All I know is that Bryce Cotton is good, they only go 6 deep, and they were on the bubble before the Big East Tournament.


I'm certainly a little biased toward Providence. Like I mentioned, I had a bit of a personal relationship with Coach Cooley. I was done before he got there, but was young enough to still be going to some games, and just general being around.

I was really impressed with Providence. I thought they had played their way maybe up to a 9 seed. And would be a dangerous one at that. Batts is a genuine load. If he were a better passer, he could be a legit prospect as a PF. And even then he shows flashes. And Cotton is very good. Their zone looked really good, and dealt with a really good shooting Creighton team. The only caveat is that their ancellary guys, like Fortune, shot really well, so they may not be quite as good as they look if those guys come back to earth a little. But it wasn't as if they were burning the place down. They did go one deeper before Kris Dunn got hurt. And I saw him a bunch in HS and is a guy I was excited about seeing because he's a CT guy.

It won't be the easiest of the 11/6 matchups would be my guess.


And I agree on your AAU vibe from the conference tournaments. Especially in the earlier rounds. When you're in an arena that's hosting four games, 8 teams, there is no concensus voice in the crowd. And the people who are there are real basketball junkies. There aint no casual fans sitting through 12 hours of live basketball. It takes a particular breed. And what you wind up with is people intrigued by teams they haven't seen yet, or players, like me with McDermott. People rooting against teams they don't like, like being an Orange fan I have to root against Georgetown generally speaking, or UConn or Pitt. And an interest in just seeing good competitive basketball.

One thing I've always found interesting is that for me anyway, conference cheering for the Big East almost always took on a family vibe. I always hated UConn. They were the biggest threat when I started going to the tourney, outside of the occasional GTown team. And sure I could say something bad about them, but once the national tournament started, it was almost like a brother. I could say something, but you can't. And I always root for the Big East teams, even though they generated the most vitriol from me just a few weeks ago.

Watching that documentary from Sunday night I got a ton of that vibe too. John Thompson being excited a team from the Northeast won more than being the first black coach to win a national title, and saying things like how he knew they were all better off being together.

That was a spectacular watch.
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