By Ray Mernagh
In the first installment of our Big East Preview I gave you the two teams, based on what’s known from last year’s results and the talent coming in, that should win the league’s regular season championship.
In case you missed it the two I pegged were Syracuse and UConn.
Today I look at three teams that can win it, and truth be told, injuries have made me consider making this a foursome or switching out one team for another.
The Panthers won this thing last year and they return a National Player of the Year candidate in Ashton Gibbs. My two viewings of the Panthers thus far, especially the last one vs a D3 foe, have made me more of a believer than I was beforehand (and they were going to be my third pick regardless). Pitt has a program built on winning Big East games, it’s what the staff expects and that expectation is drilled into kids the second they move into their first-year dorm in Oakland. That’s all well and good but this years squad features some pieces, some sure to be backup pieces, that would tend to make me feel giddy were I an Oakland Zoo resident. This year the rookies possess, along with one vet without a lot of playing experience, talent that gives the Panthers a squad that potentially can roll as deep and thick as ONYX used to back in the day while scaring opposing coaches as much as Sticky Fingas scared the parents of daughters who loved his crew.
By Ray Mernagh
I have a job separate from this one that, while not as fulfilling, happens to pay my mortgage every month.
At that job there’s a lady from West Virginia, Maggie who, aside from being a wonderful person and a dear friend, is a huge fan of Big East basketball. At least five times a day, like clockwork, Maggie will say “I love the Big East Ray, why do they have to do this?” over the cubicle wall that makes eye contact between us impossible unless we’re both standing.
“It’s dead Maggie,” I’ll say. “It ain’t right, but it’s dead.” And then I’ll hear the reservation sink in through her sigh that travels over the wall…until she says it again a few hours later. I feel like a cold hearted bastard telling a little kid there’s no Santa Claus. But as we all know, Big East basketball is, within the next few years, dead as we know it.
It’s a funny thing too, because Maggie isn’t talking about Big East football — although she and her husband Terry never miss a WVU football game. Nope, she’s talking about hoops, Huggs, and all the magical sh!t that goes with that combination when you place it within the Big East — New York City, Madison Square Garden at Big East Tournament time and the sea of Mountaineer fans that love the fact that they’re a part of such a fantastic league.