NEW YORK – There was no way not to talk about who wasn’t at Big East media day.
It wasn’t that any schools didn’t show up – 10 were supposed to be there, and they all were. But looking around the big dining room at Chelsea Piers brought up the same thought over and over.
There was no Connecticut, no Syracuse, no Notre Dame, no Pittsburgh, no Louisville. Those schools are all gone to other conferences. They left as part of the split in the 15-team league when the schools whose main sport is basketball decided to form a league whose main sport is basketball.
Every school in this conference has the same way of looking at college athletics, Villanova coach Jay Wright said Wednesday. The most important athletic event at each institution is a basketball game. These people are all passionate basketball people.
The seven schools that left all the football schools are Villanova, Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Providence and DePaul. Joining them for this first season of the new Big East are Creighton, Xavier and Butler.
Xavier coach Chris Mack said his staff took a few days in the spring to prepare scouting reports on their new conference brethren.
We wanted to get a feel for the teams, the styles, he said. There wasn’t anything shocking; basketball is basketball. But these players are better. These players are more athletic.
Xavier and Butler both made the move from the Atlantic 10. Creighton was in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Bluejays arrive with the Big East’s preseason player of the year, Doug McDermott.
He is looking to become just the 11th player to be a first-team All-America three straight seasons. The last two were Patrick Ewing of Georgetown and Wayman Tisdale of Oklahoma from 1983-85.
I haven’t really looked at the list but I heard the name Patrick Ewing today and that’s just unreal, said McDermott, a 6-foot-8 senior forward who averaged 23.2 points and 7.7 rebounds last season.
Marquette, one of three co-champions last season, was picked by the coaches in their preseason poll followed by Georgetown, which also finished in that tie with national champion Louisville, Creighton, Villanova, St. John’s, Providence, Xavier, Seton Hall, Butler and DePaul.