NEW YORK -- From the very beginning on Wednesday, everything was centered around the continued consistency and continuity of the Big East conference, something that was lacking in the conference's first season after a drastic realignment.
But Commissioner Val Ackerman reassured the league's constituents that they had a home, and that their voice was respected. As the conference continues to move forward, they will attempt to retain a piece of it's storied history. New York belongs to the Big East.
"No other conference can call New York home like we can" Ackerman said, also referring to the new mid-town, 14,000 square foot headquarters that take up concrete in Manhattan.
"If you want to know where the Big East is, we're all in."
Ackerman mentioned the continued partnerships with Fox Sports and it's importance to the conference. The Fox Sports 1 network will host between 80-100 games and the Fox family of networks will show close to 150. The Big East will also still have the "New Year's Eve Marathon" on Fox Sports 1, where five games will be shown from noon to midnight and a 15-game weekly package called "Big East Tuesday Showdown" starting January 6 when Villanova plays St. John's at Madison Square Garden.
And after getting voted the preseason best team in the conference, Nova's Jay Wright backed the commissioner. Though the partnership with Fox Sports one hasn't attracted everyone, Wright claims its another way to attract potential recruits.
"You know if a kid is interested if he is watching your games," Wright said. "Because if he wants to, he can find it."
With Villanova first and Georgetown right behind, the rivalry is as intense than ever
From the announcement of the preseason Big East awards, the tension between Villanova and Georgetown was as palpable as ever.
When Villanova was named the preseason best in the conference, Georgetown players stayed silent. And when Darrun Hilliard wasn't named preseason Player of the Year and Georgetown's D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera got the call, several Wildcats were enraged.
Following an unsuccessful year for John Thompson III and the Hoyas, and one of the most successful regular seasons for Wright and the Wildcats in recent memory, this year has a higher level of combustibility. Georgetown has everything to prove to get back to the top and Villanova can't let the spotlight get too bright next to a stronger Big East.
"I don't think we got a pass last year, nor do I think we need a pass," Thompson III said on Tuesday referencing the Hoyas 18-16 campaign.
But Wright said that the level of rivalries has changed for his team. He said that to his current team, Creighton and Providence are rivals because "they got their butts kicked [at Creighton]" and because the Friars won the conference tournament championship.
And despite the differences in seasons or the year, Georgetown vs. Villanova will always be legendary.
"When we played Georgetown this year at the Wells Fargo Center, the game was inconsequential, we had already clinched," Wright said. "There was 19,000 there, because it was Georgetown vs. Villanova. Any time we play them, even down there, it's a huge crowd."
Villanova and Georgetown clash January 19 in Washington D.C. and February 7 in Philly, though, no matter the outcomes of their seasons up to that point, the game will be monumental. Georgetown brings in one of the best recruiting classes in the country and Villanova is the reigning regular season champions.
The difference, however, between now and when Villanova and Georgetown scrapped in the eighties is the "societal impact" that these games don't seem to have, according to Wright. But what matters is now. And right now, Villanova is the top team and the Hoyas are nipping at their heels.
No matter the timeframe, Villanova vs. Georgetown will always be the most important rivalry left for Big East basketball.
"Our guys as well as Jay's guys understand the history and tradition, they understand it's a special game when we play Villanova," Thompson III said. "When you talk about the Big East, of any era, old Big East or new Big East, you think of Georgetown and Villanova. With us, in preseason, at the top of the board, it does matter."
Five observations from Manhattan
- More from Jay Wright's complete quote on the societal impact between Villanova and Georgetown: "It's funny. There's a generation that it's monumental for them. But to these guys? They know old guys that come back. Our guys from the '85 team, they come back all the time and root for these guys like they're celebrities. Our guys are humble guys. They only know - like, they see Harold Jensen all the time, and they have no idea how big those shots were that he hit. These guys play Georgetown all the time - Georgetown's a great program, but it doesn't have the social impact that team [in the 1980's] had. It was a different era. They don't know what it was like, Georgetown and Villanova, You know, HBO did that special. They don't know what the world was like back then."
- Coach Wright said that the Wildcats will be using "six starters" for the upcoming season. Five players will start like usual, but another player will play equal minutes to another guard on the floor. Likely the two that will play similar minutes and be used as the off guard or third guard (forward) will be Josh Hart and Dylan Ennis. Ryan Arcidiacono said that Ennis has been very physical in practice and raved about his perimeter defense. Wright said that James Bell was the "glue" to the team and he will be "very hard to replace."
- Daniel Ochefu said he learned Japanese this summer when he stayed on campus. "I had to pick up a language and I didn't want to take Spanish of French because I would have had to read novels. And Japanese was interesting so I just wanted to try it out." He said that the biggest thing he worked on this summer was his free throw shooting, he "shot 200 free throws a day probably," and he worked on his back-to-the-basket moves, and his tenacity when it comes to rebounding. When asked what would change between this year and last year he said "I think I'm going to be a better rebounder than last year...I'll finish better around the basket better...when the big man steps up and they dunk it down, it's about going up strong and finishing through contact."
- Wright said that sophomore Daryl Reynolds will fill the backup role in the front court behind Ochefu and JayVaughn Pinkston. Kris Jenkins will take most of the backup reps at the four or power forward spot and the bulked up Reynolds will fill the role behind Ochefu should he get into foul trouble or needs a break from minutes.
- Funniest moment of Media Day? St. John's coach Steve Lavin taking pictures with the other Big East coaches with a jump suit on. No suit in the closet coach?