Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Big East Notebook: Boeheim-Pitino Lovefest Is On; San Diego State & Boise State Say ‘Peace Out’; Mike Brey on Manti Te’o
Remember back in October when we wrote about Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino accusing each other of being full of s**t at Big East Media Day?
Yeah, well those wild days are long gone and now it’s a virtual lovefest between the two.
“We started out together 37 years ago and we’ve been friends ever since,” Boeheim said Thursday on a conference call ahead of Saturday’s showdown between No. 6 Syracuse and No. 1 Louisville.
“Over the years, obviously we’ve battled hard on the court but we’ve always been friends. Played a lot of golf together, been on vacations a couple times together.
“I have the greatest respect for Rick as a person and a coach. He’s done unbelievable things for charities and I think he’s a fun guy to be around. We have a lot of fun when we’re together.
“And on the basketball court, I don’t think there’s a better coach. I think he should be in the Hall of Fame, probably will be in the Hall of Fame soon.
“His teams are the most prepared to play against and they do the most things to prepare for, so very difficult coach to prepare for.”
Louisville and Syracuse are both 4-0 in the Big East and something will have to give when the Orange visit the KFC Yum! Center Saturday in a nationally televised game (4 p.m., ESPN).
“They’re the No. 1 team in the country and I think they deserve it,” Boeheim said.
“They have inside scoring and outside scoring. They really don’t have a weakness when you look at this Louisville team.
“It’s a tremendous challenge for us and we’re looking forward to it.”
SAN DIEGO STATE, BOISE STATE SAY ‘PEACE OUT’
With the news that both San Diego State and Boise State have said “peace out” to the Big East and will remain in the Mountain West, the Big East is once again at a crossroads.
“It’s the end of the Western component,” one league source told SNY.tv. “Any future expansion looks like it would be Midwest-based or further East. But there’s no real rush on the timeline.”
The league will likely issue a revised football schedule matrix in the next few days, with a 10-team league, no divisions and eight league games for 2013.
MIKE BREY ON MANTI TE’O
I asked Notre Dame coach Mike Brey to chime in on the Manti Te’o story and he’s in about the same boat as virtually everyone else.
“I think it’s a little mind-blowing for all of us,” Brey said.
“I don’t think our players or us have really ben able to get our arms around it.”
He added: “It’s kind of confusing. I’d just rather it not be a distraction for our basketball team over the next two day because we have a very important game on Saturday [against Rutgers].”
MARQUETTE STILL FLYING UNDER THE RADAR
Marquette improved to 4-0 in Big East play with a 69-62 win against Seton Hall Wednesday night. It the first league win for the Golden Eagles that was not decided by one point or in overtime.
“They lost a couple of great players, but they didn’t lose a great coach or their culture of winning,” said Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin, whose club hosts Marquette Saturday.
JT3 SAYS WHITTINGTON LOSS IS HUGE
Georgetown coach John Thompson III says he has no timetable on when or if sophomore forward Greg Whittington will return from his academic ineligibility.
“No, not yet,” he said.
“He’s a huge loss, there’s no doubt.”
Thompson III said no one person could make up for the loss of Whittington and all he does on offense and defense.
“We have to go about it without any one person trying to overcompensate.”
PITT OPEN TO PLAYING NOVA FROM ACC
Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said he would be open to playing Villanova in the non-conference after the Panthers move to the ACC next year. Pitt beat Villanova, 58-43, on Wednesday.
“I gotta think at some point we’re going to be wanting to play in Philadelphia and obviously Villanova’s a team we have a tradition with, a long history of great games and great programs,” Dixon said.
Pitt recruits heavily in New Jersey and the Philly area, so it’s in Dixon’s interest to keep playing games there.
“There’s no question there’s value to us playing in Philadelphia,” he said.
RUTGERS FOCUSED ON USF
By Matt Sugam
Rutgers’ goal has long been to be in the top half of the Big East, or as they like to say, “on the left side of the board.”
Now that they’re finally there, the goal becomes staying there. But after a loss to then No. 21 Cincinnati, Rutgers fell down a few pegs and needs a win against USF on Thursday night to remain in the top half of the Big East.
“It’s a must win to get back over .500,” junior wing Mike Poole said after Tuesday’s practice. “Where the Big East is at right now there’s a lot of 1-3 teams and a lot of 2-2 teams so to separate ourselves with a win would be real big.”
Read his full story here.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.