Monday, March 13, 2017

Reactions to Championship Week in New York

Scene from Madison Square Garden moments before Villanova celebrated second Big East championship in three years. (Photo by Josh Adams/College Hoops Digest)

In light of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim's reaction to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament being played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the longtime Orange coach expressed his disdain at having to play for a conference title in Greensboro, North Carolina in past seasons following a loss this past Wednesday, we compiled reactions from various coaches in regard to playing their conference tournaments in a major city and the value such a locale presents. Although the Big East had its traditional unmistakable energy and sellout crowds on a nightly basis inside Madison Square Garden, the ACC did quite well for itself in its first foray in a northern metropolis and just its second north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Here are several opinions gathered during the course of an unabashedly successful Championship Week in the Big Apple:

Kevin Willard, Seton Hall head coach:
"I think it's great for New York that the ACC is going on at the same time. Our fans are still going to come to our games, their fans are going to come to their games. I think it's exciting for the city, I think it's exciting for both tournaments. I don't see a downside."

Mike Brey, Notre Dame head coach, on differences between Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden after winning his ACC tournament semifinal matchup:
"This had the electricity in the semis tonight. We were fortunate enough to play in the semis in the Garden, (but) we never got to Saturday night, and it was electric. I thought tonight was really good. Both arenas, I think, are on par."

Barclays Center scene as Duke celebrated ACC championship. (Photo by Jaden Daly/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke head coach, on the ACC Tournament:
"There's been great value having it in Greensboro because this is the tournament that everyone copied, and if we didn't have the support of an entire city to support us, this tournament and this league would not be where it's at."

"If the powers that be want it to eventually go back, so be it. I think they deserve that. We still look at it -- and I think coming to New York is a huge thing just because we've added -- we have 15 teams. A number of those teams played their tournament in New York, so their fan base was accustomed to that. But having it here is great."

Roy Williams, North Carolina head coach:
"This is America, everybody's got the right to their opinion. I love moving the tournament around, I think it's good."

"One of my big goals is to never forget where I came from, and I think we have tremendous history in this league. But Jimmy's got the right to have his opinion, it doesn't mean that he's wrong."

"I like the fact that we move it around, and I love being here in New York. I loved being in (Washington) D.C. last year, and the next time we go to Greensboro, I'll love being in Greensboro."

Rick Pitino, Louisville head coach:
"The whole thing is for the fans. They don't have Final Fours in towns where the fans can enjoy themselves. A dome is a dome. It (a conference tournament) really is for the fans. New York is great for the fans, D.C. is great for the fans, and so on."

"Greensboro was great for an eight-team league on Tobacco Road. They gather together and it's one big, happy fraternity. But now that we've got them out of the fraternity, it needs to be a good environment, and this certainly is a good environment."

Jim Larranaga, Miami head coach:
"To me, the ACC Tournament; no matter where it's played, is a tremendous event, and deserves the recognition that it does get. But the fact of the matter is New York City is the capital of college basketball, so to bring the ACC; the best basketball conference in the country, to the Mecca of college basketball and give it the exposure that it truly deserves, I think is a great thing. Not to disparage any other city or any other location, but New York is special."

"I played for Dave Gavitt at Providence College, he is the first commissioner of the Big East Conference. He kind of founded the league, and his goal was to create a conference that could compete on the national level with the ACC, and the way he did it was he brought the Big East Tournament to Madison Square Garden in New York City. And all of a sudden, every kid around the country was following Big East basketball."

"From a business model, you want to get as much exposure as you can so that the coaches in your league can recruit the best players, and they know more about your league than anybody else because of the exposure they got during the ACC Tournament."

"By us coming to New York now, we hope we will benefit from it in the long run. In addition, we no longer have eight teams like there were in the '80s. We now have 15 teams, and we're spread out all over the place. We may be called the Atlantic Coast Conference, but we have Notre Dame, we have Louisville, we have Pittsburgh, we have Miami and Virginia Tech, all in the Big East. So we've taken the crème de la crème of one league that was highly thought of and put it with the crème de la crème of the ACC, and now we have; in my estimation, the best basketball conference in American history of college basketball."

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