A Look inside the Big East
Yankee Todd interviews Big East Insider, Coach Dean Schott
Hey sports fans, its Yankee Todd. Growing up in Upstate New York, the Syracuse Orangemen and the Big East conference was my favorite college basketball conference. Besides the ACC conference, not many other conferences could match the caliber of play of the Big East.
From Patrick Ewing to Chris Mullin to A.I, Zo, and Melo to Rip and Kemba, the Big East had some of the best players in college basketball history.
Today, I turn to a friend and knowledgeable insider and historian of the Big East Conference. Coach Dean Schott is a former Division I college basketball player and an outstanding high school athlete. After college, Coach Schott became a high school football, basketball, and baseball coach at his alma mater in Upstate New York.
A knowledgeable sports fan, trivia expert, and athlete, Coach Schott is an insider, historian and fan of the Big East Conference.
Here is a transcript of our conversation.
Coach, growing up, the Big East was the conference. Tell me a little about the future of the Big East.
The future of The Big East Conference is at best uncertain. With the departures of SU, Pitt, and WVU that leaves a pretty big hole in our conference. There are rumors of other teams bolting also. A few teams entering the conference are Houston, SMU, and UC. That is in no way an even trade. It’s a huge downgrade for the conference.
Syracuse is the number one ranked team in the country and has started 20-0. How is Syracuse getting it done this year? (Now 20-1 after the loss to Notre Dame)
Depth and superior talent is how the Orange are getting it down this year. SU’s second unit could beat most teams starting units and possibly even their own starting five. Best action in the Big East this year might be in The Orange’s practices.
How has Syracuse used a 2-3 zone with such success all these years?
It’s a defense that Boeheim definitely believes in. He recruits long, athletic kids that fit his system, can cover space and make it very difficult to shoot over top of them.
Now, you are a big Louisville Cardinals fan, how is Rick Pitino’s team doing this year?
It has been a very disappointing season so far for my Cardinals. More injuries than are even conceivable to me. They are a team that needs to pressure and create turnovers so they can score in the open court. That is not possible with all the injuries right now. They have been forced into a half court game and have found it very difficult to score in that type of game. A few guys are almost ready to make their return so hopefully Coach Pitino and his Cardinals can get everything on track and have a nice late season run.
Is St. John’s on the right path to rebuilding that program?
St. Johns has a very good coach in Steve Lavin. He is recovering from prostate cancer surgery right now and is not with The Johnies. He has done a nice job bringing some really talented players in the two years he has been the head coach. Right now they have depth problems and a youthful inexperience but I definitely feel like they are on the right track.
Who is the dark horse of this conference that we are not talking about now that could make a run in March?
Cincinnati could surprise some people. Cincy is very athletic. They have dangerous shooters in Sean Kilpatrick , Cashmere Wright, and Dion Dixon. They have a monster inside in Yancy Gates. This team got some pub earlier in the season for all the wrong reasons(their brawls with Xavier) but I could see them start to get a lot of attention for how tough of a team they are very, very soon. G-town is a little under the radar as well although they are in the top 20.
Who is the best pro prospect this year in the conference?
UConn has two very highly regarded pro prospects in Jeremy Lamb, a long sophomore guard, who really came into his own late last season during UConn’s title run. They also have Andre Drummond, a beast of a freshman center, who seems to get better every time I see him. Another great pro prospect in my estimation is a young man from Syracuse that doesn’t even start. Dion waiters. He is a combo guard from out of Philly that can do it all. They used to say that Dean Smith was the only person to keep Michael Jordan under 20 ppg. I am in no way comparing the incomparable MJ to Waiters but the same concept applies. The only thing keeping Waiters from having dominating statistics and more recognition is Jim Boeheim. Whenever SU is in a tight spot or they need a clutch bucket or a big steal, Waiters is usually off the bench and in the forefront.
Who’s the best coach in the conference currently?
Tough, tough question. There are some all-time greats in the Big East. You can’t go wrong with Pitino, Boeheim, or Jim Calhoun. My favorite of course is Rick Pitino. I love the up and down, get in your face pressure that he employs when he has the manpower to do so. Right now though I don’t see how you can’t say that Jim Boeheim is doing the best coaching job in the Big East Conference. They started 20 -0 and were #1 in the country. That is all that needs to be said. Many may say that he better win with all that talent but I say, he is the one who collected all that talent and now he is the one that is managing it.
Every year around NCAA tournament time, the experts debate how many teams from the Big East deserve to get into the Big Dance. What do you see that number being this year?
SU, UConn, G-town, Cincy, Marquette, Louisville, Seton Hall, WV
Historically speaking, give me your all time starting five from the Big East Conference.
My All-Time Big East Six are A-I, Ray Allen, Chris Mullin, DC, Patrick Ewing and The Pearl.
Can you give me a final four of all time teams and play them out. Ultimately giving me a “best team” of all time from the Big East?
2004 UConn (33-6) 5 of the top 7 were NBA guys
vs ’85 G-Town
’04 UConn ’85 St. Johns
’84 Wins b/c of Michael Graham. An absolute MONSTER
Can you think of one or two games that you will always remember from the Big East?
My most memorable game ever was the 84 Championship game. SU and G-Town went to overtime to settle things. It was The Pearl and Patrick Ewing at their best. G-Town won 82-71 in overtime. A CLASSIC!!!
I also will never forget the six overtime Big East tournament game between SU and UConn. Louisville had already advanced in the tournament and I just wanted to go to bed. About 2:00 AM I finally got there. I also will never forget the night Jerome Lane ripped the rim down. Legendary ESPN and Big East announcer Bill Raftery Screaming “Send it in Jerome”!!! Awesome memories.
My Favorite players all time from the Big East are –
Erich Murdoch, Dwayne McClain, Mourning, Preston Knowles, Curtis Aiken, Pearl Wahington, Kemba Walker, AI, Ryan Gomes, Ben Gordon, and Jerome Lane.
Thanks Coach. I appreciate your time and in-sight into the Big East conference. I also appreciate the trip down memory lane. You provided some excellent insight and commentary. If you have questions or comments for the Coach, please tweet them to me at yankeetodd1 and we will get them answered for you.
Coach Schott will be a regular working with Yankee Todd.
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