The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

February 12, 2011

HERTZEL COLUMN: The effect of Big East play great

MORGANTOWN — It has echoed throughout the college basketball world for so long now that in many ways it has lost its meaning.

“The Big East is the best conference in college basketball … all … all … all,” goes the echo.

“The Big East is the toughest conference in college basketball … all … all … all,” goes the echo.

“The Big East is … is … is …”

It has been heard so long and loud that it is been accepted as the truth, without anyone really taking stock on just what that means.

The best, the toughest, the deepest … great, but how does that affect anything?

Tournament time is coming on, first the Big East Tournament, then the NCAAs. What effect does playing in the Big East have on a team’s postseason play, especially in what they call “The Big Dance” but if that’s dancing, then WWE is the tango?

Think about the Big East for a minute. This past week you might have noticed that Rutgers upset Villanova and St. John’s upset Connecticut. Before that, Providence won at Georgetown and Seton Hall slaughtered Syracuse.

The league is so deep, so good that it’s an upset when there is no upset.

Kevin Jones was asked how many teams he thought had a chance to win the conference title.

“The top 10,” he said, after thinking a while. “I mean, Pitt is the best team but it’s a tossup from there on. We’re still in the mix.”

West Virginia University surely will be a dangerous team come tournament time and the Mountaineers are tied for seventh and have five ranked teams left in their final seven games.

There is talk, honest, of 10 Big East teams making the NCAAs —10!

The Mountaineers can give you an idea of just how tough the conference is. On rank of schedule, they are fourth in the nation and they rank 17th in the RPI power ratings. That’s 17th in the country and seven in their conference.

Bob Huggins lets his players know how tough the conference is.

“I try to be honest with them,” the WVU coach said. “Some say that puts pressure on them, but I’d rather they know what’s going on than at the end come to me and say I didn’t know that.”

As far as Huggins is concerned, any team with 10 wins in the Big East is an NCAA team … but then there’s that conference tournament in which you have to play.

First of all, it’s so big that some teams get double byes and there is much argument about whether or not that is a good thing.

Huggins was against it, until he tried it.

“I think it was good for us last year,” he said, referring back to having a double bye, having to win only three games to win the title and then go to the NCAAs. “We were on such an emotional high entering the NCAAs that I thought it helped us, but we didn’t have to win four or five games.”

Having to win five games in a row, no matter who you are, is a chore, especially when you see upsets like Seton Hall and Rutgers and St. John’s popping up during the regular season.

Teams like that winning the Big East Tournament, if they have to win four or five in a row, are slim, but chances of them upsetting the top seeds are not. Consider that last year WVU was the only one of the top four teams that had double-byes to win their first game in the tournament, throwing it wide open.

To make matters worse, playing the grueling Big East schedule, then the tournament takes a physical and mental toll on Big East teams, enough so that the NCAAs almost become secondary to what it takes to get there.

By the time you reach the finals you will have played as many as 36 games or more during the year and, rest assured, you have sprained ankles, aching joints, bruises and a player or two who has gone down to a season-ending injury.

And, in the case of Da’Sean Butler, the season went 32 minutes too long before his injury finally occurred.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos