By Colin Dunlap | 6:38 p.m. Saturday
It seems some reporters up here just can't get away from a tired old topic. Actually, it is a morphing of a few topics that all revolve around a central issue:
- Is the Big East stronger than the Big 12?
- What does everyone think of the Big East having some teams knocked out of the tournament in the first round.
OK, here's a smattering of some of the questions asked today and answers given along those lines. Again, it has grown very tiresome up here, but enough so that at this point, I feel obligated to share them with you.
Here's the first exchange:
Q. Devin and actually anybody else that wants to address it, BIG
EAST came in with eight teams. You guys are down to four. A lot of
people back in Big 12 country think they've got the best league. Can
you make a case for your league being the best in the country?
DEVIN EBANKS: I still think we're the best league in the country. Just because we haven't done so well in this tournament doesn't except the fact that we've done poorly. We are a good conference. We have 16 teams that are very strong, play against each other every night. There's no team in the conference that you can sleep on. It's still the best conference to me. I think the best teams are still in the tournament.
Q. How about you, Da'Sean? What's your take?
DA'SEAN BUTLER: How many of the Big 12 got in?
DA'SEAN BUTLER: One short. I still think we are the best conference by far. We have very good -- we have a very good select talent in our conference as players and different teams that are probably ranked eighth in our conference at the time. But they can probably finish top 2 in any other conference. That's how tough I think our league is. That's all I have to say about that.
Q. Da'Sean, on that, there's always a theory that the BIG EAST is so competitive that you guys beat each other up and come NCAA tournament time, that's why some teams drop out early. Do you think there's any water in that glass?
DA'SEAN BUTLER: Not really. I think we had pretty much like two teams in the Final Four last year. So every year is different. You can't really go and judge us basically off maybe one year that we didn't -- we have four teams fall out after probably one day. It happens. It's basketball.
And now onto Bob Huggins getting asked today:
Q. Bob, does the fact that out of eight teams in the BIG EAST, four
of them are already gone, does that alter your opinion of how good the
BIG EAST is this year, or not?
BOB HUGGINS: Absolutely not. I feel bad for Georgetown. We probably got done with that game at 11:30, maybe Saturday night and then turn around and play on Tuesday. It's hard. Particularly a gut-wrenching loss. It's hard to bounce back. Notre Dame had to bus back from New York. I don't know how long that is, but it's a long way. Their planes weren't flying out of there. That was big, big winds in New York. So there's a lot of things.
You know, that being said, at the end of the day you still have to go play. Our plane didn't show up last year. We didn't get in until 4 o'clock in the morning. They're not going to cancel the game. You still have to go play. Is that ideal? No. And I think there are a lot of different variables that come into play.
Q. There are a lot of people in the conference that you've coached in the Big 12 that maintain that's the best conference.
BOB HUGGINS: When I was in it, I probably would have said that too. But now I'm not. So, I mean -- I think you have to experience the BIG EAST to appreciate what it is. And you have to experience -- and I've told this story a bunch for those of you of that heard it, I apologize. A year ago we played three freshmen in our top six. We're scrambling, trying to win enough games to get an NCAA tournament bid. We go to Georgetown, who at that time was 13th, 14th in the country, somewhere in there. We get a big win in Georgetown. I'm usually not all that jovial but I was pretty happy. I get out and get on the bus, might have a Jimmy John's sandwich sitting there. Again, I can't wait to eat my Jimmy John's and watch a replay of the game on the bus on the way home. And one of those guys in the back back there walks up and drops like seven to ten DVD's on my chair on the bus. I said what's this? They said, "Come on, Huggs, we have Pitt on Monday," who happened to be number two in the country at that time. We have had four in the top ten. Other leagues don't do that. If other leagues did that they would hail themselves as the greatest league of all time. We were in a down year, allegedly, a down year. It's brutal. And it's 18 games, takes a toll.
Here's some from Missouri guard Zaire Taylor:
Q. Zaire, you grew up in the BIG EAST backyard. What do you make of
the comparison between which is the better conference, BIG EAST or Big
12 this year?
ZAIRE TAYLOR: This year I would say -- I would have to say the Big 12. I say this every year. I say this since I've been in the Big 12. The BIG EAST has a lot of talented teams. Some elite teams. But at the same time they got about 30 to 40 teams in the conference. So you have got to measure -- so when you figure the BIG EAST brings eight out of 20 into the tournament, and then the Big 12 brings seven out of 12, so you're going -- we're going over 50%. They're still around 30.
THE MODERATOR: Numbers may vary depending on where you are.
ZAIRE TAYLOR: I still take nothing away from the conference. The conference is still a very strong conference. The Big 12, it's been proven. I think we're great example, that any team can beat anybody. We lose to Nebraska, Iowa State beats Kansas State while they're still in the hunt for first place. I mean every game is a battle. That's who finished 11th and 12th in the conference. When you get more to the bottom of the BIG EAST, I think they are still competitive teams but I think the teams in the bottom of the Big 12 are better.
And of course, Mizzou coach Mike Anderson needed to be asked, right?
Q. Coach, there's been a lot of talk today about BIG EAST versus Big
12. When you look at West Virginia, who would they be comparable to in
the Big 12 that you've played in terms of either personnel or style?
MIKE ANDERSON: I think we probably played against every kind of style in our league when you talk about guys that rebound the basketball, toughness at the rim. Baylor's got some big guys that go to the board. Kansas State. They're a team that is one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the country. They are going to push the ball, throw it inside and try to go get it. They get to the free-throw line. And because they get offensive rebounds, you end up fouling them. So they attack the rim. So I guess -- Frank was with Bob, so I guess if you want to say similarities, it would be that.
But at the same time, I mean West Virginia is a totally different team. The versatility that they have. They have a lot of guys that can handle the basketball. They can make passes, they can score. And evidently they have a tremendous leader in Da'Sean Butler.
Q. Mike, along those same lines, if this team for you was in the BIG EAST, how might they fare?
MIKE ANDERSON: They would do well. I think they would do well. I think they would do well. There's a uniqueness in terms of how we play. I think -- I really think we would do well in the BIG EAST.