As Syracuse Exits, Pitino Has Some Parting Shots | Zagsblog
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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.
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Tuesday / June 25.
  • As Syracuse Exits, Pitino Has Some Parting Shots

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    NEW YORK — Rick Pitino has been a forceful critic of schools exiting the Big East ever since the realignment tidal wave crashed upon the league last fall.

    In September, he told SNY.tv that the idea of UConn potentially leaving the Big East for the ACC was “the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.”

    And late Friday night, after Louisville beat Notre Dame, 64-50, to advance to the Big East championship game against fellow former Conference USA member Cincinnati, Pitino had a few more parting shots for Syracuse.

    “The interesting thing is how many people they’ll bring to Tobacco Road,” Pitino said of the top-seeded Orange, who were bounced by the Bearcats, 71-68. “That will be interesting. There’s not many Syracuse alums on Tobacco Road.”

    Madison Square Garden, of course, is a virtual homecourt for Syracuse and on Friday night the place was rocking with orange-clad supporters who have raucously supported “New York’s college team” since Dave Gavitt founded the Big East in 1979.

    But in 2013, Syracuse, along with Pitt, will leave for the supposedly greener pastures of the ACC.

    “I think Conference USA has come to the Big Apple,” Pitino said of the Louisville-Cincinnati final before going off again on Syracuse. “Look, some of us who were born in New York City and can’t fathom Syracuse being in the Atlantic Coast Conference….

    “Although we’re going to miss Syracuse and obviously they have so many alumni in this area, I can’t fathom the why part of it. Now, everybody says fast break. Well, we’ve got a better fast break conference now, so [Big East Commissioner] John [Marinatto] has done a brilliant job with that putting it all together.”

    Back in the fall, Pitino advocated for Memphis and Temple to replace Syracuse and Pittsburgh because of their strong basketball traditions.

    Marinatto then went out and landed both schools and they will both come aboard for hoops in 2013.

    Former Conference USA members Houston, SMU and UCF will also join, giving the Big East 18 basketball programs by 2013-14.

    “Memphis will be very exciting for the league, Temple will be very exciting for the league,” said Pitino, who is making his third appearance in a Big East final in four years and is seeking his second title since 2009. “I think we’re really going to miss Syracuse because the side of their court says New York’s College Team.

    “So we’re going to miss them. Pitt and West Virginia were great for our conference, but putting Memphis and Temple in place of those two, you’re replacing two great traditions with two great traditions, but we’re going to miss Syracuse.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. 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.

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