New York City - For a minute let's forget the realignment. Thank you. At the Big East media day we asked several coaches about the quality or excellence of the Big East Conference. What makes this a special conference and so successful in the women's game? Further, there were opinions on what makes this conference arguably the best year after year.
Responses following the jump.
Wayne Szoke, the former Monmouth men's basketball coach, always said, "the toughest conference happens to be the one you play in."
Surveyed mentors of the Big East schools would certainly agree wholeheartedly.
Jose Fernandez, South Florida : "We have shown improvement in the league but how our teams perform in NCAA and NIT play shows how good this league is. Also, I feel we have a great post season conference tournament. With a venue as Hartford and the competitiveness I would say no conference can match our post season event."
Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame : 'This is the best conference in the country. Last year we got 9 teams in the NCAA tournament and I would not be surprised to see 10 get in this year. Parity is present in our league and there really are no easy wins. I think the individual talent is remarkable. Just look at the WNBA and see how the players who have gone through our programs are performing. I think the style of play, a little faster tempo, attracts a lot of that talent to our schools."
Mike Carey, West Virginia : "The Big East has proven to be one of the best leagues in the country year in and year out. Check our teams' winning percentages in NCAA (post season) play. This is my 11th year at West Virginia. Every year I feel I have a strong recruiting class then I look around and see everyone else in the league has one as well."
Terri Mitchell, Marquette : "You have programs run by hall of fame coaches. You have literally 15 different styles to prepare for. It seems everyone runs a different half court offense. Every team you face not only has talent but teams that are so well prepared. It's no surprise every year the Big East has several teams go very deep in the (NCAA) tournament."
Anne Donovan, Seton Hall : "By far the Big East is the best conference in America. Top to bottom this is the best conference. Year in and year out we just don't get 2 or 3 teams in the NCAA tournament. We get 8 or 9 and they prove they belong there."
Kin Barnes Arico, St.John's : "I think top to bottom we have good programs. The programs that have struggled are making commitments and improving themselves. The players and depth of our conference is amazing. The top teams do not look forward to playing some of those teams near the bottom."