The NFC Big East

Feb. 12, 2012

The NFC BIG EAST

When last we met (contra the fight song, it hasn’t been so long), I noted the role of the I-95/Northeast Corridor as the traditional backbone of the BIG EAST.  If anything, that looks to become even moreso the case in the immediate future, as the pending departures of Pittsburgh and Syracuse eliminate the conference’s two most successful non-I-95 programs (Louisville, with two NCAA titles, might best both of those two, but it is still a relative newcomer to the league).

Zooming in a bit further, we find an extensive history of rivalry and accomplishment tying together teams from Washington, Philadelphia, and New York – Georgetown, Villanova, and St. John’s, respectively.  The apotheosis of this legacy is, of course, the 1985 Final Four, the only time in NCAA tournament history when three teams from the same conference made it to the penultimate round.  Insofar as Memphis’s status as the fourth semifinalist was subsequently vacated due to use of ineligible players, it would be technically correct to say that this triumvirate comprised an all-BIG EAST Final Four.  It is doubtful that we will ever see such an occurrence again in our lifetimes (full disclosure: the 1985 Final Four was not in my lifetime).

The hometowns of these programs are also linked through their collective membership in the NFL’s NFC East division, where the Redskins, Eagles, and Giants have their own long and storied track record of rivalry.  Sure, the Redskins technically no longer call DC home, but, then, Villanova is not in Philadelphia proper either.  The basketball gods’ sense of irony is on display in the ongoing conference realignment merry-go-round, as in 2013 the “NFC East” grouping of BIG EAST programs will be complete with the addition of Dallas-based Southern Methodist University.  How ‘bout them…Mustangs?

We will turn our attention to Villanova – and, eventually, SMU – in due time.  For now, the focus is squarely on the Johnnies from Jamaica.  It hasn’t been so long since last we met them, either, with a 69-49 Hoya triumph in Madison Square Garden coming less than a month ago, on the 15th of January.  The Red Storm rang up a big fat goose egg from behind the arc in that game, going 0-for-10 from three point range and shooting a cover-your-eyes awful 31.5% for the game.  St. John’s do-everything freshman forward Moe Harkless fouled out of that game, hacking Georgetown center Henry Sims on consecutive possessions to earn himself a one-way trip to the bench. That was the final dagger for the Johnnies, already overmatched in the face of a 20-point second-half explosion from Hollis Thompson, a 15-point, 8-rebound, 8-assist scoresheet stuff-fest from Jason Clark, and a double-double from freshman phenom Otto Porter.

In truth, though, that game was much closer than the final score indicated.  St. John’s led or was tied for much of the first half, and they had pulled to within a three-point margin, at 48-45, at the 6:15 mark of the vesper half.™*  The Johnnies also own wins over Cincinnati and West Virginia, two teams that defeated the Hoyas.  They stayed within 7 points of Duke in Durham as well.  This may be an incredibly young and thoroughly depleted team – Malik Stith, the final returning player from last season’s team, left the team right before the last game – but it remains a dangerous one.  Much like the NFC East, where the woeful Redskins twice defeated the Super Bowl champion Giants this season, no game can be taken for granted in the BIG EAST.

A series as longstanding as Georgetown/St. John’s will have inevitably produced its share of memorable moments.  In the years that I have been a Hoya fan, however, the Red Storm have largely been stuck in rebuilding mode.  What comes to mind when I think of this rivalry is therefore not a pivotal, decisive moment or a #1 vs. #2 national showdown.  Instead, it is a moment in the waning seconds of the meeting in January 2008, when hard-working walk-on Bryon Jansen entered the game and drilled a three-pointer under the lights of MSG as time expired.  That basket brought a louder cheer than any other from Hoya fans and players alike and even drew a smile from coach John Thompson III.  It was a special, feel-good moment.  Here’s hoping that something along those lines is in store for the February 12, 2012 collision – preferably also with the Hoyas up double digits.

Dmitriy Zakharov (F’09, G’09)
Proud Member of Generation Jansen


*”Vesper half” is a registered trademark of Hoyas Win! x 20 Incorporated, a Dr. Rich Chvotkin Company.

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Schedules

April 26
L, 10-2
UMBC
Shirley Povich Field
RECAP
April 26
L, 2-1
George Mason
Fairfax, Va.
RECAP

Livestats
April 27
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 27
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 28
3:00 PM
Villanova
Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
April 28
9:00 AM
St. Johns
Cayce, S.C.

Live Stats
April 28
4:00 PM
Seton Hall
Cayce, S.C.

Live Stats
April 28
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 28
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 29
2:00 PM
Villanova
Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
April 29
12:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.
April 29
2:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.
April 29
9:00 AM
Semifinals
Cayce, S.C.

Live Stats
April 29
12:00 PM
St. Johns
Cooper Field
April 29
12:30 PM
Semifinals
Cayce, S.C.

Live Stats
April 29
1:00 PM
Florida
Gainesville, Fla.

Stats
Watch
April 29
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 29
All Day
Penn Relays
Philadelphia, Pa.
April 29
All Day
America Trophy
Ithaca, N.Y.
April 29
All Day
Class of 2006 Cup vs. North Carolina
Washington, D.C.
April 30
1:00 PM
Villanova
Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
April 30
12:00 PM
St. Johns
Queens, N.Y.
April 30
9:00 AM
Championship
Cayce, S.C.

BEDN
Live Stats
April 30
12:30 PM
Championship
Cayce, S.C.

BEDN
Live Stats
April 30
All Day
America Trophy
Ithaca, N.Y.
April 30
All Day
Eastern Sprints
Worcester, Mass.
April 30
All Day
The BIG EAST Championship
Callawassie Island - Charleston, S.C.
May 1
All Day
The BIG EAST Championship
Callawassie Island - Charleston, S.C.
May 2
7:00 PM
George Washington
Shirley Povich Field
May 2
All Day
The BIG EAST Championship
Callawassie Island - Charleston, S.C.
May 4
TBA
Semifinals
Providence, R.I.

CBSSN
May 4
TBA
Semifinals
Villanova, Pa.
May 5
7:00 PM
St. Johns
Shirley Povich Field
May 5
All Day
Payton Jordan Invitatinoal
Palo Alto, Calif.
May 5
All Day
Kehoe Twilight Meet
College Park, Md.
May 5
All Day
Payton Jordan Invitational
Palo Alto, Calif.
May 5
All Day
Kehoe Twilight Meet
College Park, Md.
May 6
7:00 PM
St. Johns
Shirley Povich Field
May 6
2:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.
May 6
4:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.
May 6
4:30 PM
Championship
Providence, R.I.

FS2
May 6
TBA
Championship
Villanova, Pa.
May 7
1:00 PM
St. Johns
Shirley Povich Field
May 7
12:00 PM
Butler
Indianapolis, Ind.
May 8
All Day
Ncaa Regional Championship
Nm./Nc./Tx./Oh.
May 9
All Day
Ncaa Regional Championship
Nm./Nc./Tx./Oh.
May 10
5:00 PM
Maryland Eastern Shore 7 innings
Shirley Povich Field
May 10
7:30 PM
Maryland Eastern Shore
Shirley Povich Field
May 10
All Day
Ncaa Regional Championship
Nm./Nc./Tx./Oh.
May 12
7:00 PM
Butler
Shirley Povich Field
May 12
All Day
BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Villanova, Pa.
May 12
All Day
BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Villanova, Pa.
May 12
All Day
Patriot League Championships
Camden, N.J.
May 13
7:00 PM
Butler
Shirley Povich Field
May 13
All Day
BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Villanova, Pa.
May 13
All Day
BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships
Villanova, Pa.
May 14
1:00 PM
Butler
Shirley Povich Field
May 14
All Day
Eastern Sprints
Worcester, Mass.

More Information
May 16
6:00 PM
UMBC
Baltimore, Md.
May 18
3:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
May 19
3:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
May 19
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 20
12:00 PM
Xavier
Cincinnati, Ohio
May 20
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 21
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 22
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 23
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 23
All Day
ICSA Womens National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 24
All Day
Ncaa National Championship
Sugar Grove, Il.
May 24
All Day
ICSA Womens National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 25
All Day
ICSA Womens National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 26
TBA
TBD
Omaha, Neb.
May 26
All Day
ICSA Womens National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 27
TBA
TBD
Omaha, Neb.
May 27
All Day
NCAA Championships
Princeton, N.J.
May 27
All Day
ICSA Team Race National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 28
TBA
TBD
Omaha, Neb.
May 28
All Day
NCAA Championships
Princeton, N.J.
May 28
All Day
ICSA Team Race National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 29
TBA
TBD
Omaha, Neb.
May 29
All Day
NCAA Championships
Princeton, N.J.
May 29
All Day
ICSA Team Race National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 30
All Day
ICSA Coed National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
May 31
All Day
ICSA Coed National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
June 1
All Day
ICSA Coed National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
June 2
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.

More Information
June 2
All Day
ICSA Coed National Championships
Charleston, S.C.
June 3
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.
June 3
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.

More Information
June 4
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.
June 4
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.

More Information
June 5
All Day
IRA National Championships
Lake Natoma, Calif.