In final Big East tournament run, Boeheim reflects on decades in conference tournament, looks ahead to ACC

first_imgNEW YORK – The memories flooded Jim Boeheim’s mind. For more than three decades, he’s been leading his teams into Big East battles at Madison Square Garden. As he prepared to do so for the final time on Wednesday, Boeheim couldn’t escape the feeling that this was it for his time in the Big East.“I was thinking in the locker room before about the game, some of the games, and some of the highlights we’re playing,” Boeheim said after the Orange’s 75-63 win over Seton Hall. “Things have kind of been two years coming, but now that it’s here, your whole life has been spent in this league, and the last 31 years coming to this building, that’s a lot.”All season, Boeheim’s been asked about his thoughts of playing his final season in the Big East before Syracuse officially moves to the Atlantic Coast Conference in July. On the road, he’s been asked his feelings on coaching in Big East cities for the last time. More often than not, he says he doesn’t think about it.That was different on Wednesday.During his postgame press conference, Boehem reminisced about the Big East tournament and Madison Square Garden. He spoke about how the Big East grew out of former commissioner Dave Gavitt’s vision for a basketball-only conference. It eventually became the most competitive basketball league in the nation.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“There’s a lot of people in the Hall of Fame that would never be in the Hall of Fame, never, not a chance, if it wasn’t for him,” Boeheim said. “Nobody should ask how the Big East was broken up. People should ask how did it stay together with the differences, the schools.”Boeheim has 48 wins in the Big East tournament, the most of any coach. Syracuse has won the conference tournament championship five times. There have been incredible shots – like any of Gerry McNamara’s in 2006 – and incredible games – like the six-overtime thriller against Connecticut in 2009 – that have molded Boeheim’s view of the event.Brandon Triche, who’s graduating in May and won’t be with Syracuse in the ACC, echoed some of Boeheim’s thoughts. Triche said the Big East and the Big East tournament are reasons he wanted to play for the Orange.“Just being able to play in the Big East meant a great deal for me coming to Syracuse, just to be able to play tough basketball,” Triche said. “All these memories, it’s a lot. Especially being here four years, being able to come down here with my team, it means a lot, especially the last one.”While Boeheim expressed sadness about leaving the Big East, he said the league has changed so much that it’s not the same Big East he entered three decades ago.He also said it’s easier heading to the ACC with so many other schools from the Big East, including Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville. Former Big East foes Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech are already there.So while this week brings some sadness, there’s still more to look forward to. Next season, Boeheim will have the new challenge of playing in the ACC.“So it’s a tremendous challenge, and I think that’s good for me,” Boeheim said. “Tired of the same thing every year. It will be great. It will be a different thing, but I think a tremendous opportunity for us and our players.” Comments Published on March 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm Contact Chris: cjiseman@syr.edu | @chris_iseman Related Stories MARCHING BACK: Syracuse returns to form, gets offense humming in 75-63 Big East tournament win over Seton HallBack at full strength, Syracuse looks for revenge against Pittsburgh in Big East quarterfinalsCarter-Williams ties Big East tournament assist record, paces Syracuse in win over Seton HallGallery: Syracuse defeats Seton Hall 75-63 in Big East tournamentcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more