It’s been a while since I’ve done a Volvo Challenge. This one comes with a little synergy. It is another Volvo Challenge. Remember to go and vote for me in Volvo’s Biggest Fan in the Big East. Volvo, a Big East corporate sponsor for the Big East, wonders what the Biggest Fans in the Big East think constitute the Garden 30, that the Big East itself is asking in honor of the 30th year at MSG.
What is the Garden 30? It is the 10 best moments. The 10 best players. And the 10 best teams in the Big East Tournament.
If you look over the list, Pitt doesn’t get much run. Except for being at the other end of some of the moments the Big East chose. The moments being widely defined as anything from a moment, a single game, a tournament run and even back-to-back titles.
Well, if they are going to cast that wide of a net, there is no way Pitt doesn’t enter into the discussion.
10 Best Players from the Big East Tournament
This is a little different from the list I did earlier of the best players of the Big East. First, there is no actual team I’m putting together. Just the best players from the Big East Tournament. The players who stepped up under the bright lights of the Big East Tournament. This means a list more strongly dominated by point guards.
There’s some obvious overlap, and some surprising omissions. This is not in a particular order. Comments where I feel needed.
1. Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
2. Chris Mullen, St. John’s
3. Kemba Walker, UConn: Have to give it up to him for 2011.
4. Gerry McNamara, Syracuse: 2006 BET was his career high point.
5. Sherman Douglas, Syracuse
6. Khal El-Amin,UConn: BET MVP in 1998 and All-BET in 1999 and 2000.
7. Sam Young, Pitt: So dominant in the 2008 BET.
8. Alonzo Mourning, Georgetown: 1 BET MVP and 3 All-BET team selections
9. Dwayne Washington, Syracuse
10. Allen Iverson, Georgetown: Carried that Hoya team in the BET for two straight years
It goes without saying that players on the teams that won tend to get the stats and edge. More games. More showcase. That’s why it might be surprising to realize that Derrick Coleman — undoubtedly one of the best players in Big East history — did little to distinguish himself in the BET until his final BET in 1990 — his only time on the All-BET team.
Top 10 Teams
Let’s face it. If a team didn’t even win the Big East Tournament, they just can’t be on thislist. Again, no particular order. I do have to say, that this will probably be the widest range of variance from fan to fan. The fact is, that outside of a small handful of squads, I don’t really see a lot of great “teams” from the Big East Tournament. From falling short of expectations to the bad stretch of the 90s Big East.
1. 1983 St. John’s
2. 1985 Georgetown
3. 2003 Pitt
4. 2004 UConn
5. 1999 UConn
6. 2008 Pitt
7. 2001 Boston College — Torn on this one. This BC team plowed everyone in the Big East Tournament. They won each game by an average of 18 points. At the same time, this was such a topsy-turvy BET with so many upsets that BC played an 8-8 Villanova, 5-11 Seton Hall and 7-9 Pitt to win the BET.
8. 1989 Georgetown
9. 2009 Louisville
10. 2007 Georgetown
Speaking of bias, yes I can see that I have skewed hard to the 2000’s. Part of that is unavoidable with memory and simply the gauntlet teams have to go threw in the Big East these days. As I said, the 90s was not a particularly strong time for the Big East — especially that stretch in the mid-90s. Even in the 80s, the Big East didn’t start playing in MSG until 1983 (hence the 30 year anniversary) which reduced the number of teams available.
Top 10 Moments
You think the last list skewed a little towards Pitt-bias with the 2003 and 2008 Pitt squads making the top-ten teams. You haven’t seen anything yet.
1. 2001-2008 Pitt was the bully of the Big East Tournament. Making 7 BET Championship games in 8 years and winning 2 BETs. Pitt went from bottom feeder in the conference to the top of the conference in a few short years. But it was their runs each year in the Big East Tournament that made everyone aware of them. Most of it was accomplished without one dominant or transcendent player. They were almost always teams in the truest sense.
2. 2009 6-OT. One of the greatest games ever in any conference tournament. Syracuse and UConn staged an epic 6-OT quarter-final game.
3. Pitt-UConn three straight Big East Tournament Championship games 2002-04. UConn won 2 of the 3. Two extremely difficult wins, including beating Pitt in double-OT with a hobbling Brandin Knight still leading Pitt. But for a Pitt fan, that 2003 dominating win over UConn was the thing. Pitt’s first Big East Tournament Championship.
4. Walter Berry blocks Pearl Washington at the buzzer in 1986 Final.
5. UConn had Kemba Walker and no one else did in 2011. Goddammit
6. 2006 Syracuse runs 4-in-4 to win BET. Probably only Pitt fans remember that Pitt was doing the same thing. Pitt was playing its 4th game in 4 days as well. One team was going to be the first team to win the BET by winning 4 games in 4 days. Syracuse did it, and that run was what helped make sure they made it back to the NCAA Tournament. Something not guaranteed at the beginning of the BET.
7. Ray Allen’s game-winning jumper in 1996.
8. Georgetown’s dominance of 1984 and 1985 behind Patrick Ewing.
9. The eye poke of Allan Ray. Not one of the heartwarming or gut-wrenching moments of the Big East Tournament, but a disgustingly unforgettable one from the 2006 Big East Tournament. Pitt’s Carl Krauser and Villanova’s Allan Ray were going for a loose ball, and Krauser inadvertently got Ray with an eye poke that thankfully and somehow did not do permanent harm to Ray. And no, I will not run the YouTube of that moment.
10. Seton Hall wins its first Big Eat Tournament thanks to Oliver Taylor’s 2 buzzer beaters.