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Old 03-16-2016, 09:51 AM   #1
Thorpesaurous
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Default The 2016 Big East Tournament

As many of you know, I've been going to this tournament for at least one day almost every year for 26 years now. Every trip is a bit different, and this years certainly was. It's the second straight year that my buddy and I have taken his two sons to the championship game. However this year we stayed down there for Friday and Saturday night.

We opened on Thursday however. We hopped on the train at 830 am with our former boss who owned the liquor store we worked at while we were in HS and College. He turned 70 this past year, but his ability to overdue it is truly remarkable considering. I stopped drinking on the way down a few years ago. It's just too long of a day, but this guy seemed to be viewing this as rare chance to get out. He was going right from the jump. We also picked up my cousin in law, who came last year, and is only 28. Neither guy is really a basketball guy, but both guys are sports fans, and good company.

We paid 1500 bucks for a ticket package that was really a great deal. Four seats to every game, midcourt, about halfway up. I've been in better seats, but for the price, this was about as good as it gets.

First day was four games with the top seeds. Nova Georgetown, Providence Butler, Xavier Marquette, and Seton Hall Creighton.

Nova being the top seed was a pretty heavy favorite, but I took them anyway. I saw Georgetown really up close earlier this year against UConn. They're an underachieving group. They have a handful of really good players. I've long been critical of their PG, Dante Smith-Rivera, for being a chucker with no sense of the game, but seeing them this year from the second row, I got the feeling they needed his chucking, because he was the only guy on the roster who didn't look stiff running John Thompson III's stuff. It's really pretty stuff. A lot of back cutting from the Princeton. Some flex action that wound up in a type of triangle sideline attack, with a ton of pick and roll and high hand off type stuff. Honestly it's all stuff I really love, but it feels like these guys spent the whole year getting the mechanics right, and never actually learned to play it. Nova is almost the exact opposite. Almost like a poor man's Kentucky, they run a four out one in, Penetrate and Kick scheme, with the one big not even really playing in, but setting ball screens and rolling hard and coming out the other side. Last year they were painfully small, and I expected no less this year. I was intrigued by their adding a real top tier Frosh in Jalen Brunson. Brunson looked mediocre at best, but the system kept rolling. I had bet on them in spite of a heavy line, and they wound up pulling away and covering, but there was no right answer in that game. Ryan Arcidiacono, who somehow won a share of the conference PotY last year, is a very good, tough, smart player, but he's got some serious limitations. I thought Brunson would make him better by taking some of the pressure off, but it just didn't happen for Brunson. Josh Hart, who has been great all year, and is a legit NBA 3/D prospect, just isn't much more than that. He's very good on the D side, and he'll run the floor, finishes okay, and is good catching and shooting, or using one bounce. But ask him to do more than that, and it becomes a toss up. He's the Danny Green of college basketball. Arcidiacono is the Wes Welker of The Big East. Just a pain in the ass who feels like he's been there for twenty years, and just utterly hateable unless he's on your team.

The next game was Butler vs. Providence. My fondness for Providence is pretty well documented. Their coach, Ed Cooley, coached at my Alma Mata, and their star PG, Kris Dunn, is a CT kid, who I saw play a handful of times while he was in HS. And then last year, I took the train home with a car filled with his family and neighbors. Plus I love his game. That said, Providence has seemingly been a two man show all year. Dunn, and sophomore PF Ben Bentil, are pretty much the story. Butler on the other hand is just a bunch of good basketball players who make smart plays and generally shoot well. They are undersized though, and rely too much on Roosevelt Jones, who seemingly played his first game in 1992 against Ryan Arcidiocono. Bentil is a guy I never see in the draft projections. I know he's a hair undersized at 6-9, but his stroke is good, and he's really well put together. He went nuts in that game, and got like 40 pts. He's not a true stretch four at the next level, but I find it hard to believe he couldn't fit in somewhere. Smart, tough, and with touch both near and far. He feels like a perfect second round rotation big. I layed points with Providence and won that too.

Dinner was next. There's something really disorienting about not seeing natural light for five hours, and drinking heavily, then walking out onto one of the busiest streets in the world with the sun up and people making their way home from work. We went to our usual steakhouse, and it was excellent as usual. We ate way too much. We had bumped into a guy I know from the gym, a buddy of his, and my friend's brother in law. So we had a big group. But regardless, we ordered six appetizers, a shellfish tower for four, and then a meal each. I had dry aged NY Strip, because, well, it's not everyday I can get my hands on dry aged beef. There were other options, but it's the beef.

Back into the hole, the next game was Xavier Marquette, which was the game I had most wanted to see. I took Xavier laying pretty heavy again, and they went wire to wire. One of the reasons I wanted to see this one was for Marquette's Henry Ellenson, who's getting the top five pick talk. There's some Kevin Love Lite conversation going on, because of the international rule that one can only be compared to a player of the same race. I've gotta say I came away really unimpressed. He's listed 6-10 245, which seemed legit, if a little overstated on the weight. He's got high shoulders, which usually indicate a good reach. But it's not as if he used it to impose himself on the block, and he's no defender. His stroke looked okay, but the results weren't really there. And while he averaged 10 boards a game on the season, he just couldn't hold up against the Xavier bigs, who are really good.
Xavier is one of my favorite teams in the country. Their coach Chris Mack the last handful of years has been one of the most creative coaches in the country. They play a bunch of different looks on both ends. And he runs a shifting 131 that I've never seen before. When his Jr. big Jalen Reynolds is in, a guy who's got a legit pro body, he actually shifts the 131 to the sideline by asking him to jump up to the top to defend the reverse, which I've never seen before. It looks more traditional with heavier big guy James Farr. Offensively they do run offense through Farr sometimes. Farr is a guy who if he lost thirty pounds would probably be an NBA player. But will probably do well overseas with the shorter seasons. The backcourt is also pretty loaded. Edmond Sumner, Trevon Blueitt, Myles Davis (who's mother I presume was a Jazz aficionado), JP Macura, all bring stuff to the table. Davis is the toughest defender, and has the most mature game. He's limited physically, but is an excellent piece. Sumner and Blueitt are sort of similar. Both are long and dynamic athletes. They'll get into passing lanes on one end, and create shots for themselves and others on offense. Macura plays like some kind of homeless man's Pete Maravich, but is a great piece off the bench, because he can come in and completely change the pace of the game. He attacks on both ends. Will shoot it without conscience. And will force passes that keep everyone on their toes. And he's killer on the offensive glass for a guard. He will also have moments where he'll hit someone in the tenth row with a pass. They also have a 6-7ish Frosh named Kaiser Gates who probably doesn't play enough, who's got sort of a do everything game. They play big with both bigs sometimes, sometimes small. It's just a fun team. They looked great. They shot well. Toward the end, Ellensen and his brother seemed to loose their composure, and the ref's lost control of the game. Xavier went into a funk. They seemed to not know how to play with this big lead and the ref's going nuts, while their guys were getting hit in the chops by Marquette's bigs. The held on to cover, my third win in a row, but the end of the game was weird.

The fourth game was Seton Hall and Creighton, but the old man was losing steam fast, so we bailed for the train. I took Seton Hall just because I wanted to root for them, and tracked the game from my phone on the way home. Four for Four on the gambling front on day one.
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:20 AM   #2
enayes
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Default Re: The 2016 Big East Tournament

isn't this post a few days late?
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: The 2016 Big East Tournament

You didnt watch the St Johns game?
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Old 03-16-2016, 11:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: The 2016 Big East Tournament

Day Two was where our normal routine broke up. I've stayed in the city for the games before, but in midtown, and usually with a great deal of debauchery. However I hadn't in a while. We usually just train it back and fourth. Last winter we took the kids to The Gotham Classic, a two game set between Christmas and New Years, and combined that visit with a visit to see their aunt, my buddies sister, who live a few blocks from the World Trade Center. This year we did that again.

They drove in Friday about noon with their neighbor, a 20 year college kid who lives up the street, and had never been to The Garden, or seen a big college game other than a UConn game in Hartford. He played in HS, and is a genuine basketball guy. I hopped in with my buddy's father, who hadn't been to the Garden since January 17, 1941, when he was among 23,190 people witnessed Fritzie Zivic's successful welterweight title defense against Henry Armstrong ... presumably. Traffic sucked, so we just enough time to get into The Conrad hotel, which is a pretty sweet place with a sort of Asian inspired room motif, sliding milked glass doors and the like, and crazy state of the art steam room showers. We had to get back uptown to eat. I wanted to go to Keen's, which is among the oldest steakhouses in NY. It's an awesome place. It used to be a men's only smoking establishment, filled with mahogany, and still has pipes signed by guys like FDR, and Babe Ruth. But we couldn't get in. Nik & Stef's knows us at this point, so they accomadated the pre-game meal for the four of us. We wound up eating almost the same thing as the night before. I was tempted to go with something else, but wound up over two nights eating 38oz's of dry aged NY Strip. I have no regrets.

The first game was Nova Providence. I took Providence getting 8.5 points iirc, and they covered by half a point. Bentil fouled out, and was in foul trouble the whole game. The same refs who did the Xavier game were out there, and they were just terrible. No flow to the game. Dunn was okay. He makes a handful of mind blowing NBA lottery type plays a game, but his jumper is shakey, and sometimes he forces things. Other times he seems to get tired and disappear. I still love him as an NBA guy, but he's gotta get that jumper more consistent. All in all, considering Bentil had like 4 points, it was remarkable they stayed as close as they did. At this point I was questioning Nova. Brunson was nowhere to be found again. Too much Archidiacono. Kris Jenkins is a real threat with the ball, but he's undersized and not a great athlete. Hart won't come out of his lane even when they need it, which will probably make him a good pro, but doesn't help here. Ochefu does what he does really well, which is all the dirty work, rebounding, defending, and screening, but he can't create. I really feel like this year's team is worse than last year's Nova squad with Hilliard and Pinkston. A lot of the same problems with size, but those guys were better athletes than Jenkins, and better creators than Hart, and Brunson just didn't free up Archidiacono as much as I thought he would. He really didn't do much of anything.

The second game was Seton Hall and Xavier, I took Xavier laying points, and man did that not go well. The Garden was pretty well alive with Hall fans. That team plays with a serious chip on it's shoulder. It's got four NY kids in the rotation. Their game is relatively simple. In your shorts man to man defense. Pushed tempo. And a ton of double screen high pick and roll, with Desi Rodriguez stretching the floor on one side, and Angel Delgado getting some post touches, while doing the glass work and the pain defense. And Kadeem Carrington pushing the tempo. And all of it sparked by Isiah Whitehead. Whitehead was my big takeaway from this tournament. I knew he was good. It's not like I've never seen them play. And I had wanted to go to the Under Armor Brooklyn all star game, which I wound up watching on TV, where Whitehead was great. He was a legit All American coming in, and probably the best prospect SH had gotten in 20 years. Frankly he probably has the best pedigree in the Big East.
I do wonder how much Xavier was bothered by the night before where the officiating choked at the end. Seton Hall was physical and aggressive. They gummed up all the pretty stuff Xavier runs. And while I love Xavier's 131, it, like all 131s, has seams. Carrington and Whitehead had the ball switching sides, and attacked the seams. And Rodriguez sat in the seams and drilled lefty jumpers. By the end they running double picks on the head of the 131 and letting Whitehead pick a side, build up a head of steam, and barrel through there. He had a crazy collection of inside out dribbles, spin moves, and step backs, that they just couldn't stop when he turned the corner. He's remarkably strong. He had a few plays where they reached in on him, and he just sort of pulled the ball through as if it weren't a problem. Xavier was never really in it. We sat next to a cool dad and son from Xavier the whole weekend. They could sort of see it coming. To me it was a surprise. But I wouldn't be surprised by them again. They're a little small, but Delgado is 6-9 and there isn't a ton behind him. But if they're allowed to defend on the perimeter without getting reffed out of a game, they are really dangerous.
Whitehead I haven't seen on any draftboards. Even looking forward a year. I know he runs a little in between things. He's not a PG, but he can make plays. He's not a shooter, but he's a threat out there. He was comfortably taking shots well well beyond the NBA three point line. He shoots 76% from the FT line, and 38% from three. Knowing the types of shots he takes, that 38% is fine. And the 76% speaks to the soundness of the stroke. He's a plus athlete. And if he really is the 6-4 he's listed at, he's plenty big enough to play NBA SG, and he's a man defender by nature, even if he gambles too much. I think the guy is an absolute steal if you get him late first. The pedigree is there. I just don't get lack of notice. Dunn is a more natural PG, but how is Dunn a top 6 or so guy and this guy isn't even on any boards? He's a better shooter, every bit the athlete, and a playmaker. I'm sure he'd get the Wade comp on the high end. I wouldn't go that far. But he's certainly cut from that cloth. The best of Lance Stephensen doesn't seem unreasonable. Frankly he's a better shooter. Because of the chip on the shoulder, it's hard to tell if he's unusably crazy or just using it for edge. The guy is a beast.

We went back to the hotel that night. I went out walking until about 330. I met a group from England that were in the city on some sort of art tour. There was one girl that I clicked with, and we went out both nights late, but I never got anywhere. It was still a nice bonus. The next morning we hit a park and played some pickup with the kids. We grabbed an early dinner, as the game started at 530, which is just bizarre. We hit a cab with the kids and headed down. Now one kid is a big Xavier fan. The team I coach runs a 131, and so do they, so I think that's part of it. Plus we watch a lot of Big East. He has some social anxiety issues, and kind of freaked out while we were heading to that early dinner. I was worried he wouldn't make it. He was already a little bummed about Xavier getting knocked. And to top it off, his brother, who's 7, is a Nova guy. He plays on our team too in spite of being four years younger than some of our competition. He plays like an animal, and has a little Archidiacono in him, so that's his squad. They squabbled, but we split them up, and it was fine. We took The Hall getting points and rooted quietly so he could enjoy his Nova. I just felt like Nova hadn't looked like world beaters, and their perimeter based attack didn't match up well with how good SH's defense looked. If the refs let them play, The Hall had a real chance. It was a spectacular game. Seton Hall jumped out early and looked great. The crowd was awesome. They hadn't won a big east in 22 years, and the team was filled with NY kids. Somehow Nova got back into it in the second half. Jenkin's shot great, and they just couldn't stay with him as he's a bit of a tweener forward. It came down to a really great outlet pass by Ochefu, to Archidiacono, for a desperation three to win, that didn't fall. Archi is just out of control. He made the shot harder than it had to be by throwing himself to the floor. He's just consistently out of control. He's a decent little player, but I just can't understand his PotY award.

Back to the Hotel that night. I went out walking again with the British girl, but only till about 1. We all slept in the next day. We were gonna hit the park before we left, but it just wasn't happening. We're in a basketball tournament with our team and had a game that night. So we packed up and headed to SoHo to Katz's deli, which is one of those rare places that's famous and still as good as it was to get that way.

We got home to get a few hours in before our own game. We played as well as we have all year, and won to advance to the final four. However we did spit up a ten point lead to win by only 2. And one of our best player broke his leg. It was a great emotional end to a long weekend. Throw in the time change, and it'll take me until April to recover.

I've got some pretty good pictures of the art installations at the hotel, and The World Trade Center and the Transportation Hub. I'll try to post them at some point.
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Old 03-16-2016, 11:59 AM   #5
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Default Re: The 2016 Big East Tournament

It is a little later than usual. I've been catching up at work the past few days.

And yes I missed the St. Johns game. We almost never do the Wednesday session. We sold those tickets for 400 bucks. 100 a seat. That makes the rest of our tournament tickets 1100, and the two guys from Thursday both gave us 100 bucks for those tickets, which is a good deal considering it's 4 games.

We ate the college kid and my buddy's father's tickets. And the kids obviously.
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Old 03-16-2016, 02:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: The 2016 Big East Tournament

always enjoy reading these
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Old 03-16-2016, 06:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: The 2016 Big East Tournament

You going to try the ACC Tournament for a day when it's in NY? Think it's supposed to be at Barclays the next couple years.

Has the experience changed in the BE Tournament since it's basically been downgraded to a midmajor?
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyMcAdocious
You going to try the ACC Tournament for a day when it's in NY? Think it's supposed to be at Barclays the next couple years.

Has the experience changed in the BE Tournament since it's basically been downgraded to a midmajor?


Good questions. I'm a Syracuse fan going back a long way, and the temptation of seeing Duke, Carolina, and a few others, will probably cause me to at least look into the ACC. However this year at least you could make the case The Big East was the better conference. Nova and Xavier both landed two seeds. It would really help the conference if one of those teams could make a Final Four run.

The other thing that I suspect will happen with the ACC being in town, is that the price will be driven down at the Big East, which I'm not terribly concerned about. I spend plenty of money every year there. But I'll certainly take what I can get.

I've been to the Barclays four times since it's opened. It's a pretty nice arena experience. And it's small enough that I don't think you get many bad seats. But Brooklyn, in spite of it's gentrification, just isn't midtown. The commute from the downtown area we've been staying would pretty much be the same either way. However my buddy's sister had twins, and is moving to the suburbs, so our need to stay there would be pretty slim, other than the fact that I really like that area.

The tone of the Big East has changed since Syracuse and UConn have left, among others, but honestly those were the two. In fact, BC leaving many years ago was probably a bigger hit than even Louisville or Pittsburgh with the recent change. I think the big change though is in the crowd as much as it is in the on court product. Most of the crowd at this point still feels like it's on vacation. There's a lot of people from Xavier, Creighton, Butler, etc., who come into the game and start talking about shows they saw on Broadway last night, where they went for dinner, and what they plan to do tonight. And a lot of people seem to come for their own game, and then ditch the session when it's over (that happened with the old guard too to a degree). The more local teams, particularly UConn and Syracuse, had crowds that tended to be used to the Garden, and the city in general. They felt a little more lively. Syracuse has a ton of fans in the city, and those guys seemed to come out of nowhere. And UConn fans are loaded with commuters, who are usually loaded with alcohol from the train ride down.


One HUGE question I have about the ACC ... one of the big seller for The Big East over the years has been the rumor I've heard that it's one of only a few of the conference tournaments that serve alcohol. I know the Big Ten doesn't. From what I understand, the conferences can't serve alcohol. But the Big East doesn't run it's own tournament, the Garden itself pays for the rights to the tournament. It's some kind of loophole that I don't see why Barclay's couldn't use too, but I'd want to know ahead of time.
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Old 03-17-2016, 01:48 PM   #9
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Not sure if it's conference based, but they do serve alcohol. I know for a fact they served at the tournament in DC this year.

One of the things on my sports bucket list was to go to the Big East Tournament before it got picked apart. Too bad. Something about the Big East Tournament not long ago and the ACC Tournament before it expanded and was the only way to get into the NCAA Tournament... That's college basketball at it's purest, imo. Never got to experience either.

btw, if you want BC back you can have them. Winless in-conference in football and basketball? Come on.

Last edited by JimmyMcAdocious : 03-17-2016 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 03-18-2016, 08:47 AM   #10
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Default Re: The 2016 Big East Tournament

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyMcAdocious
Not sure if it's conference based, but they do serve alcohol. I know for a fact they served at the tournament in DC this year.

One of the things on my sports bucket list was to go to the Big East Tournament before it got picked apart. Too bad. Something about the Big East Tournament not long ago and the ACC Tournament before it expanded and was the only way to get into the NCAA Tournament... That's college basketball at it's purest, imo. Never got to experience either.

btw, if you want BC back you can have them. Winless in-conference in football and basketball? Come on.


I have some friends who went to Barclays and some who went to Providence yesterday, and neither place served. Again, it may be a matter of the NCAA renting the arena and hosting, as opposed to in the case of the Big East, or the tournament you went to in DC last year, where the arena hosts, so they can do as they see fit, and they just buy the rights to the tournament.


And yeah, I know BC sucks, I just wish the conferences stayed more territorial, and BC was a big part of the northeastern catholic school basis of the conference. I hate BC. I got into a fight with their fans the year before they left the conference.

The real villain is Notre Dame. Had they joined the BE fully, none of the football centric schools would've felt they had to leave. And if you watched that Big East 30 for 30, the conference was really close to getting Penn State, which would've been a great fit.
Either way it would've led to problems eventually. The non-football schools would've eventually become some kind of weird sub-set. And the conference would've expanded further just to keep the football schools in play.
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