Playing the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden, in the heart of the media capital of the world, captured college basketball's characters.
From the signature sweaters of Lou Carnesecca and John Thompson to the Beast of the East nickname placed on Patrick Ewing, the Big East provided a colorful cast from the beginning.
“I don't think it can ever be replicated,” said former Pitt star Charles Smith, the 1988 conference Player of the Year. “The Big East will go down as the most exciting conference in college basketball. We had coaches who were personalities. You had players who were characters. They weren't just names.”
Eventually, Pitt became the toast of the Big Apple. The Panthers played in the Big East championship game seven times in eight seasons from 2001-08.
Julius Page played in four consecutive Big East finals, winning MVP in 2003, and always will remember the ride.
“To go there and have success made it more fun,” Page said. “That feeling — getting on the bus every single game and seeing all the fans in their school colors — that never gets old.”
The Panthers are hoping to make one last title run before joining the ACC this summer.
“It's sad to see it coming to an end like this,” said Pitt assistant coach Brandin Knight, the 2003 Big East co-Player of the Year, “but because of what we've been able to accomplish the last 10 years or so in the league and the Big East Tournament, the expectation there is that we're going to be there for the entire week, we're going to win.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.