THE…END.

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Big East Dream Team — A Flashback To The Glory Days

Long before the Big East transformed into a football conscious conference, the cornerstones of the league provided Northeast basketball fans with a source of pride and ownership of the collegiate game. It was a league that oftentimes rendered the Carolina-Duke rivalry secondary by bringing the bright lights and camera crews from the ACC into different backyards like Madison Square Garden, the Capital Centre and the Carrier Dome.

In 1985, the Big East staged its own personal party, sending three teams to the Final Four in Lexington, Ky. As interest grew, and the product proved viable, others wanted a taste, leading to multiple expansions and sadly, a slow and perplexing erosion of its historical roots. As the “Catholic 7″ readies for next year’s launch, one of college basketball’s titans is in the process of being reduced to a fading memory, its soul snuffed out in favor of greed and football.

Proximity? Tradition? Common sense? That was compromised long ago.

Now, it’s all about the Benjamins!

As the curtain draws near on the final conference tournament as we know it, it’s time for a trip down memory lane. A tip of the cap to the original pioneers, followed by a standing ovation for the best this mega-conference has ever had the pleasure of calling its own.

Big East Dream Team

Pearl Washington, Syracuse, Guard: Washington combined a dazzling array of schoolyard style with efficiency and big game guts during his three seasons with the Orange. A true showman, Pearl is often credited with making the Big East “cool” during its infancy, drawing crowds and TV cameras to the big bubble in Western New York. While his jumper was far from textbook, Washington was money when the game was on the line, combining style and substance. As a result, I’m handing Washington the keys to this historic engine. No question, he’ll hit top speed.

Ray Allen, Connecticut, Guard: A first-team All-America as a junior, Allen’s jump shot remains one of the purest in the history of basketball, at any level. His ability to use screens and work without the ball, combined with powerful rise and quicks made him a nightmare for opposing defenses. If Allen played on lesser teams and was given free reign, I firmly believe he would have sniffed 40 a night and approached “Pistol” Pete territory. Deadly from the line, explosive in the open court and armed with limitless range, he was a true triple threat. A 45-percent career 3-point shooter, if you bit on the shot fake, he was more than capable of posterizing your center.

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Patrick Ewing, Georgetown, Center: In a lot of ways, Ewing was like a young Tiger Woods, as players actually feared Ewing. Tall, tough, fluid, and explosive, Ewing played with a ferocity unrivaled by any player I’ve watched at the collegiate level, amassing nearly 500 career blocked shots, not to mention countless pump fakes from players merely hoping to avoid the embarrassment of another emphatic Ewing rejection. When Ewing laced up his Nikes and his knees were young, he’s in the mix for a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of college basketball’s big men, alongside Mikan, Russell, Wilt, Alcindor and Walton. Sorry Shaq, sorry Hakeem, but in college, there was only one Patrick Ewing.

Chris Mullin, St. John’s, Forward: A gym rat? You bet. An overachiever? Unfair label. While Mullin earned his stripes by going around people rather than over them, his pure basketball talent, his knowledge of the game, his sweet lefty stroke and array of pump fakes and quick hands puts New York’s Chris Mullin in rarefied air. In addition to securing All-American honors three times, Mullin also snagged the prized Wooden Award Trophy in 1985, leading the Johnnies to the Final Four. He could shoot, handle, rebound, dish and yes, even defend. Ask old-timers who read passing lanes better than Mullin, and you’ll get little competition. Imagine if this guy had a three-point line to play with in college? Look it up kids, he didn’t. The Man.

Derrick Coleman, Syracuse, Forward: It’s easy to submerge yourself with more recent memories of DC, loafing up and down various NBA hardwoods, jacking up lazy 3′s and failing to take care of his body. But that would be a mistake. In a conference built on toughness and rivalries, Coleman stood out, literally, from Day 1. An elite rebounder, Coleman progressed quickly at Syracuse, swatting shots, owning the window, finishing with thunderous jams, leading the break, or on occasion, even pulling up for long, smooth lefty J’s. When you hear the name Derrick Coleman, forget about his many professional follies, and pop in an old VHS. He was scary good.

Reserves:

Allen Iverson, Georgetown
Walter Berry, St. John’s
Alonzo Mourning, Georgetown
Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
Charles Smith, Pitt
Kerry Kittles, Villanova
Richard Hamilton, U Conn

Head Coach: Jim Calhoun, U Conn

Runner-Up: John Thompson, Georgetown: It’s tough to ignore the fact that with the most dominant player of his generation at his disposal, JT reached three NCAA title games — and lost twice. That alone keep him from the top spot.

(Brandon Tierney can be heard across the nation on CBS Sports Radio, co-hosting (weekdays, 6-9 a.m.) alongside Tiki Barber and Dana Jacobson.)

Who would make your Big East Dream Team? Let Brandon know in the comments!

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14 Comments

  1. sharkraider

     /  03/12/2013

    West cost fan who appreciates well thought out attacks.

  2. The kid

     /  03/12/2013

    can’t argue too much on first team. I would add Terry Dehere and Lawrence Moten to the reserves. So many players its hard to narrow it down.

  3. If you added Dehere and Moten, which players would you remove?

  4. Nick

     /  03/13/2013

    Cant believe you would leave off Kevin Pittsnogel! haha On a serious note though, how far down the list do you have to go until we would find a WVU player on your list?

  5. Pretty far, besides…Gansey would be higher than ‘Snoggle on that list. Very, very fun team though. Actually, one of my all-time favorites.

  6. Have to admit, I feel real guilty leaving Kemba Walker off this team…also gave great consideration to Sherman Douglass as my starting PG.

  7. Dave S

     /  03/16/2013

    Gerry Mac if you had an honorable mention, and Billy Owens is a forgotten stud! Nice call on considering Sherman Douglas. Those were the great days of the Big East.

  8. You’re clearly an Orange fan, which is great. Owens wasn’t even a consideration, thought briefly about Mac as a sniper off my bench.

  9. PJ Buckley

     /  03/16/2013

    Otis Thorpe belongs somewhere!

  10. He does…in the 40-50 range.

  11. PJ Buckley

     /  03/16/2013

    Few had better or longer NBA careers.

  12. Maybe…maybe Ed Pinckney but really no problems with your list. Nice job

  13. Anonymous

     /  03/17/2013

    Marcus Hatten

  14. Richard

     /  03/17/2013

    Were Boeheim, Lou Carnesecca on your short list for coaches? Where would you rank them? No doubt Boeheim is a special special coach but can he be considered an underachiever?

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