Orange Watch: The surreal feeling of Syracuse’s final season of Big East play


NEW YORK — The reality began to set in a little bit more during this week’s last gathering among the northeast-centric media attending the annual Big East basketball media day at the 144-year old New York Athletic Club, with its wondrous views looking directly north into massive Central Park out of the large 9th floor windows.

There was no mistaking being smack in the middle of a beautiful autumn day, smack in the middle of a bustling Manhattan in all its glory.

New Big East commissioner Mike Aresco

Big East basketball equals the Big Apple, and after three decades plus it’s defiantly going to take a little bit of an adjustment to college hoops with a southern flavor and an ACC Tournament that will be played in Greensboro or Charlotte the majority of the time, instead of the annual electric atmosphere both inside and outside of Madison Square Garden every season, regardless of who’s playing.

That’s a year away, for now all eyes turn to a Syracuse team pegged as a Top Ten squad among the many pre-season predictions, second behind Louisville in the Big East coach’s poll.

» Related: Boeheim, Pitino spar at media day

For new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco, on the job less than three months, he can only reflect on what losing a Syracuse means to his league from his nearly three decades of involvement on the college sports TV side of the business negotiating with his current employer.

“Obviously, I would have loved to have had them (SU) stay, they’ve meant so much to the heritage of this conference,” Aresco told The Juice Online after his initial remarks to the media gathering.

“We wish Syracuse only the best.  They were one of the founding members of this conference for so many years, and Jim Boeheim, what a wonderful career, we’ll enjoy having him in the tournament this year and we’ll wish him well.”

As in Newport, R.I. back on July 31 when Doug Marrone spent most of the football media day session trying to refrain from getting into too much discussion about his program’s final Big East season, Coach Boeheim, patient and relaxed, spent a good amount of time addressing the same question, in much the same manner as his football counterpart.

» More from Big East Media Day: Brey still mixed about leaving Big East

“I’m here to talk about this year’s league, that’s all I care about right now,” Boeheim clarified as his first questioner inquired about the impending ACC move and the future of the Big East.

Later, softening up a little before being goaded into a verbal war of words with former protégé Rick Pitino over conference realignment and what is best for each school’s programs, Boeheim opened up a little on the meaning of the Big East finale.

“I think someday I’ll reflect on all that stuff, but I have to be concerned about this league this year, these teams,” Boeheim began.  “As to the future of the Big East, I don’t know, nobody knows.  I was at Syracuse before the Big East.  I was at Syracuse with seven teams in the Big East.  Nine teams.  14 teams.  16 teams.  Things change constantly in college athletics.”

Come next season for the SU hoops program that could be true in more ways than one.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.