Tuesday was the unofficial kick-off to the Big East season, with coaches and players from all ten teams making their way to Madison Square Garden. The day featured many notable current and former faces of the Big East, such as the Big East commissioner, Val Ackerman, the voice of the Big East, Bill Raftery, and Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun. But the stars of the day were the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats, represented by senior captains Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins, and Darryl Reynolds as well as head coach Jay Wright.
The day was a flurry of presentations, interviews, and photo shoots. We’ll have some more in depth pieces later this week, including an interview with Darryl Reynolds and some inside information from some of Villanova’s Big East opponents. But while the day is still fresh in my mind, or as fresh as it can be after a whirlwind trip to and from NYC, here’s some highlights from Big East Media Day:
- The day started with a “State of the Union” of sorts from commissioner Val Ackerman. She touched on several topics including DePaul’s new stadium and the extensive TV coverage the league will enjoy this season. But the main focus was the continued relationship with Madison Square Garden and the Big East Tournament
- The BET and MSG are celebrating their 35th anniversary together as the longest running tournament linked to a single venue. The league put together a special video presentation of some of the best moments from the BET, and Villanova’s recent success was heavily featured. While it still stings a little to watch Kevin Williard celebrating on the floor as Seton Hall defeated Villanova last season, but it was great to see footage of Arcidiacono diving for a ball, or Hilliard holding the BET Championship Banner over his head in 2016.
- For those of you Big East historians out there, you’ll enjoy this Big East Tournament panel discussion featuring Bill Raftery, Jim Calhoun, P.J. Carlesimo, and Chris Mullin.
- As expected, Villanova was the biggest draw for the media. Their table was swarmed the entire day with the media asking the same questions the team has heard all summer. How has Kris Jenkin’s life changed since his miraculous shot? How did the NBA Draft experience influence Josh Hart? How will Darryl Reynolds pick up the workload of Omari Spellman? How will Jay Wright motivate his team back to another Final Four? We’ll delve into some of these questions later this week, but the bottom line is that there wasn’t much new news that came out of the day on the Villanova front.
- That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any new information out there. Jay commented on how he’ll be handling social issues, specifically protests with the team this season. He said that he’s spoken with the team captains already, and that he plans to speak to the team as a whole in the coming weeks. “Everybody’s opinion is important to me, and I want everybody’s opinion to be important to each other on the team.”
- As we reported yesterday, Villanova was again picked unanimously to win the Big East. Josh Hart was named the Big East Preseason Player of the year. Kris Jenkins was a unanimous selection for Preseason First Team All-Big East, while Jalen Brunson was named an Honorable Mention.
- The Big East Women’s Media Day took place later that afternoon, and Villanova was selected to finish 4th in the conference. Kelly Jekot was voted as the Preseason Freshman of the Year, while Adrianna Hahn and Alex Louin received All-League honors.
We’ll have more in depth coverage from media day as the week continues, including a one on one interview with Darryl Reynolds. We’ll also take a look at Villanova’s biggest competition in Xavier (including interviews with Coach Mack, Bluiett, Sumner, and Macura). Finally, we’ll get some additional insight from Big East players Kelan Martin (Butler), Kyron Cartwright (Providence), Billy Garrett Jr. (DePaul), and Maurice Watson Jr. (Creighton). Stay tuned Nova Nation!