Last chance for Georgetown-Syracuse
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — It’s only fitting that Syracuse and Georgetown will play on the grand stage of Friday night’s Big East tournament semifinals one last time before the curtain falls on the league as we know it.
The longstanding rivalry, which has helped define the iconic conference for 34 years, will include a final chapter for posterity before Syracuse enters the ACC next season and Georgetown joins six Catholic schools as part of the new Big East.
“The doubleheader that is going to be here tomorrow night will be a great basketball night … ” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said after the Orange held off Pittsburgh, 62-59, in Thursday’s quarterfinals. “It is a great way for the league to go out.”
The game will mark the 14th Syracuse-Georgetown matchup in the Big East tournament.
Boeheim said Wednesday that, before the Orange beat Seton Hall, he allowed himself a moment of reflection in the locker room at Madison Square Garden. He first came to The Garden as a sophomore at Syracuse. And the world’s most famous arena has hosted the Big East tournament every season since 1983.
“It has just been an amazing place,” Boeheim said Wednesday. “Unless you were here for all of them, you probably can’t grasp it … The games here, I have been fortunate to be in a lot of them, to have been in 14 finals here. I remember every one of them like yesterday.”
So does Rollie Massimino, who was head coach at Villanova from 1973 to 1992. As a kid, Massimino used to take the train to Madison Square Garden to watch the NIT. This week he was sitting in his office at Northwood University, where he is the head coach of the Division II program, while his sons and grandsons were all up in New York City for a final toast to the Big East tournament.
“My emotions are somewhat upset,” Massimino told USA TODAY Sports by phone. “There are so many feelings that went into the amount of years we put in as coaches, as administrators, as players. It was such a wonderful experience.”
Just to step on the MSG … [For more on Last chance for more Georgetown-Syracuse memories, click here.]