Georgetown, Syracuse and Big East Basketball

My earliest memory of Big East basketball was the 1996 conference championship game between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Connecticut Huskies where a couple of guys named Allen Iverson and Ray Allen went at it in Madison Square Garden. After that, I didn't pay much attention to that conference unless I saw their teams advance deep into the NCAA Tournament. Then there was the 2007-2008 college basketball season. 

Thanks to my man Ron Bailey from i95ballerz.com, I got the opportunity to cover the world famous Hoyas. For three years, I was all about Big East hoops. I went to most games, and trust me, they weren't all barn burning, full capacity, television worthy contests. There were some duds against South Florida and games against the likes of Seton Hall where aside from the student section, most of the arena was empty. But there were a few dates on the Georgetown schedule that put butts in almost every seat, but none more so than the annual home game against Syracuse.

The Syracuse / Georgetown hoops rivalry was classic in that either team could be having shitty seasons (which didn't happen very often) but whomever won that Hoya / Orange game could feel great about themselves for about a week and a half. Fans packed the Verizon Center to the tip top, wearing heather gray, blue and yes, even blotches of orange. We photographers were shoulder to shoulder in our positions with an extra row of photographers behind us. Against St. John's, I could stretch out and take a nap on the baseline...but not against 'Cuse. Against 'Cuse, the atmosphere before the tip already made the experience incredible and there were still 40 minutes to play. These games were usually competitive but if it didn't show in the score, it damn sure showed in intensity. 

Alas, all good things come to an end. The Big East as we know it, is crumbling. Syracuse is off to the ACC and 7 teams from the Big East's current incarnation are forming their own conference. Now, I don't want to sound like I'm longing for the days of the old rivalry too much because I only witnessed three seasons and I don't think anyone is allowed to be nostalgic about the 2000s. But I sure will miss it. Farewell ye olde Big East as we knew it. Shout out to JT III, Jim Boeheim, Roy Hibbert, Donte Greene, Jessie Sapp, DaJuan Summers, Jonathan Wallace, Scoop Jardine, Jonny Flynn, Austin Freeman, Arinze Onuaku, Paul Harris, Rick Jackson, Greg Monroe, Jason Clark, Eric Devendorf, Kristof Ongenaet, Chris Wright (whew, all pictured) and all the other Hoyas and Orange I've photographed. Conference re-alignment sucks.

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