The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

March 22, 2014

Long live the Big East

It first started when I was a student at Indiana University in Bloomington and I didn't quite understand. Most of my friends and people I would meet while watching college basketball wondering how on earth I couldn't be a crazed Hoosier fan, despite living in Indiana my entire life and being a student at IU. I didn't quite have an answer other than I wasn't raised in a house where Indiana or the Big Ten was visible, but there was more than that.

I was born in Evergreen Park, Ill. and less than a year later my parents moved to Griffith, Ind. in Northwest Indiana. This was Purdue Country, but not the basketball paradise that Southwestern Indiana is perceived as being. My father grew up in New York and was a fan of the Big East. I gravitated towards the University of North Carolina at age eight or nine. At that young age it was probably the beautiful Carolina Blue that drew me in. At that age, you aren't thinking about wins and losses. The players of my youth were Vince Carter and Jerry Stackhouse and of course, Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith.

What made my fandom of the Tar Heels even greater was my father's stories about UNC point guard Phil Ford, who directed the famous Four Corners offense under Smith to perfection. So I had my Tar Heels and the ACC and I honestly didn't even watch a full IU or Big Ten game until I was 16 - IU's upset of No. 1 Duke in the Sweet 16 in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. For the last few years, I had wondered why Indiana never wandered into my sports stratosphere. Sunday night I got that answer.

Sunday night at 9 p.m. I sat down to watch ESPN's latest 30 for 30, "Requiem for the Big East." I felt like I was a teenager again. My dad used to tell my brother and I countless stories about the Big East in the 1980s and how wonderful it was to witness. If you watched Sunday, you were given a pass into the meteoric rise of that great basketball conference. It had everything you could want in a basketball league and was as compelling as anything you could dream up.

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