Scott Cordischi On Sports: End of an Era
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
It’s the end of an era.
30 years after the Big East Conference held their men’s basketball postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York, the will hold their last one there before the new-look Big East takes to the Garden floor next March.
While fans of the Catholic 7 will claim that the Big East Tournament will live on, a big part of it will die at the world’s most famous arena this weekend.
While schools like Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova and Georgetown look to continue the tradition, they will do so without some of the league’s flagship programs.
While virtually every program in the conference has enjoyed its moment in the sun at the Big East Tournament, the ones who have added the sizzle to it were Syracuse, Georgetown and Connecticut.
In the 80’s, the Orange and Hoyas staged some great battles with players like Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning for Georgetown and Pearl Washington and Derrick Coleman for the ‘Cuse.
In the 90’s and this past decade, UConn started to make a name for itself with the likes of Ray Allen and others. And outside of the Huskies and the Orange, no team has received anywhere near the fan support year in and year out at the Garden.
Those days are coming to an end this week. UConn has already played in its final Big East tourney as the Huskies were deemed ineligible for this year’s tournament due to the academic shortcomings of the program. Next year they will be playing in a conference that supposedly will be called “America 12.”
Syracuse will be playing in its final Big East Tournament before heading south to the ACC.
The “new” Big East will continue to hold their conference tournament at the Garden next year and beyond and it may very well create some new and lasting memories for the future. But there will be a certain amount of sadness this week in New York as we say goodbye to an old relic.
-As a Syracuse alumnus, my greatest Big East Tournament memory has nothing to do with any of the Orange’s five championships. Instead, it was that classic six-overtime quarterfinal round war with Connecticut in 2009. Syracuse won the game 127-117 and, surprisingly, won the next night in the semifinals against West Virginia. Unfortunately, the Orange had no gas left in the tank for their match-up with Louisville for the championship.
-Providence College fans will undoubtedly pick the 1994 Big East Tournament as their fondest memory. Ironically, I arrived here in Providence in early February of 1994 toward the end of that season. I was lucky enough to attend a few Friars games at the Civic Center that year and get to know Rick Barnes who came into our WPRO studios to do his weekly coach’s show with John Rooke. After shocking #2 UConn in the semifinals, the championship game win over Georgetown was almost anticlimactic. It was the equivalent of the Red Sox beating the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS before sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series.
-Am I the only one who thinks that Mike Wallace is overrated? 5 years and $65 million for him? Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very good receiver and a tremendous deep threat, but he also finished 34th in the league with 836 yards receiving last year. Despite the difference in age, I feel like Wes Welker could have helped Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins more than Wallace can. Just my opinion!
-There are a lot of very good cornerbacks available in free agency. Let’s hope that the Patriots sign a few.
-They could also use a hard-hitting, play-making safety to go alongside Devon McCourty.
-Somebody please tell me why the Celtics can’t beat the woeful Charlotte Bobcats. Two of Charlotte’s league-low 14 wins this season have come at the expense of the C’s.
-For those of you who are fans of women’s college basketball, it’s official: Notre Dame owns the UConn Huskies these days!
-A 6th round draft pick is all the Baltimore Ravens could get for Anquan Boldin? Really?
-With the way that Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin are playing, I have just one question for Boston Bruins fans: who’s Tim Thomas?
-Then again, last night's loss to Pittsburgh was painful. With less than 7 minutes to play in the third, the B's gave up three unanswered goals to turn a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 loss.
-After day 1 of NFL free agency Tuesday, the Patriots still haven’t lost Wes Welker, Aqib Talib or Sebastiasn Vollmer to another NFL team.
-It’s been much too long since the Providence Friars were relevant at the Big East Tournament. Will that change this year?
-I actually like the Dolphins’ signing of free agent LB Dannell Ellerbe more than I do the signing of Mike Wallace.
-Unfortunately for Wes Welker, there is only one Patriot whom the franchise considers “untouchable” and that’s Tom Brady.
-If the Red Sox fate this season does, indeed, rest on the arms of their top starters then things may be better than expected this year. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster have all looked good. The question is, will they have a line-up that can produce runs consistently with the uncertain status of David Ortiz?
-The NHL should do away with the overtime shootout and just go back to a 5-minute sudden death overtime to decide a tie. If either team scores in the overtime, they should get two points while the loser gets nothing. If the game is still tied after the 5-minute overtime then each team gets a point. Again, just my opinion!
-How about Nnamdi Asomugha in a Patriots uniform?
-This 50-degree weather has given me a little spring fever! For the first time in 2013, I sparked up the gas grill and cooked a couple of New York sirloins the other day. Yum! Nothing like grilled food!
-Edmonton’s Taylor Hall is a heck of a player, but this Bruins fan is more than happy with Tyler Seguin.
-This football fan is happy that Tony Gonzalez is coming back for another season with the Atlanta Falcons.
-Between Mike Wallace ($65 million), Dannell Ellerbe ($35 million) and former Raiders LB Phillip Wheeler ($26 million), the Miami Dolphins are being called the “Day 1 winners” of free agency this year. I’ll withhold my judgement to see whether or not it was money well-spent.
-Meanwhile, that sound you hear coming from Gillette Stadium up in Foxboro is what you thought it was………crickets! Having been burnt by spending big bucks on top tier free agents before (see Adalius Thomas), the Pats usually wait for the market to settle down before doing some bargain shopping.
-To my friend “Dolphin Paul,” remember this: AFC East titles and Super Bowls aren’t won in March, they’re won in January and February.