When the clock strikes midnight on July 1, UConn athletics will be back where they belong in the Big East. Of course, this Big East isn’t exactly the same as when the Huskies were last members, so we caught up with writers who cover those schools to get the lowdown on how things are going.
For this edition, Andrew Geiger from Casual Hoya took some time to answer our questions on the new conference and Georgetown basketball.
Note: these questions and answers have been edited lightly for clarity.
What have the last seven years been like without UConn in the Big East?
A: Wow has it really been so long since last we met? Well, I’m sure you’ve been closely following Fox Sports 1 to see the greatest college basketball out there but as a recap, it’s been strong to quite strong. It would really make Jim Calhoun proud if he were still conscious.
Honestly, the transition was a little rough at first but the conference has really smoothed out. I mean it wasn’t as bad as the American Apparel Conference but Fox had some issues to work through. We feel like we have rivals within the conference in teams that were not around when the Huskies were Georgetown‘s lap dogs. We have some real personalities as coaches. Each team has become recognizable by their style and personality, there are some great gyms and arenas. There’s an edge with our new rivals that’s lacking, however, that I’m hoping you’ll bring back to the Conference. Hoyas-Johnnies and Hoyas-Huskies is still better than, say, Hoyas – Bluejays.
What was your fanbase’s reaction to the news that UConn was rejoining the Big East?
A: There are still those that harbor some ill will towards UConn for leaving to begin with, but everyone makes mistakes! It will be great to have you guys back where you belong.
Aside from renewing old rivalries, one of the biggest perks of the Big East is an easier travel schedule for both teams and fans. Assuming it’s safe to travel come college basketball season, what do Huskies fans need to know about your arena? Any restaurants/bars/destinations you recommend?
A: We have Kente on our court and a dimmer switch, but pretty much everything is the same since 2000s at our Chinatown home away from home. Playing in a NBA arena has its perks but also drawbacks in fluctuating attendance for the midweek games. Big East games—old and current—don’t typically have problems putting butts in seats.
UConn and Georgetown have been involved in plenty of classics during the old Big East days. Is there one game from the first go around that sticks out for you?
A: Ray Allen’s fluke shot to give UConn the Big East Championship in ’95-96 over Iverson’s Hoyas still irks me. That loss cost the Hoyas a 1-seed in the Dance and a likely Final Four appearance. Instead, the Hoyas were a 2-seed and lost in the Elite 8 to John Calipari’s UMass team that was led by Marcus Camby. Not surprisingly, that win was later vacated. Good times.
And this one: ”HIBBERT DRAINS UCONN HOPES”
To get serious for a second - what’s the latest on head coach Patrick Ewing? We saw a few weeks back that he was hospitalized for COVID-19, but released from the hospital later. He’s always been a rival, but is still basketball royalty. How is he doing?
A: Ewing seems to be on the mend and calling recruits. His family says he’s home from the hospital and we are giving him his privacy. He is, however, able to muster enough strength to release a couple strong statements against racism and social injustice, as one would expect, which is more than we can say for some programs.
Which was worse as a Georgetown fan - the loss to Florida Gulf Coast or the first three years of the Patrick Ewing coaching era? Is Ewing on the hot seat?
A: Get your head out of your ass. How dare you bring that loss up without any nexus to UConn. You should be put on probation for that.
Patrick Ewing has some work to do with the roster and defense, but anyone watching those conference games last year with that skeleton crew should understand how hard those guys played for him. He earned a lot of respect as a coach and we’re lucky the Knicks don’t hire him away.
The loss to Florida Gulf Coast was bad, but not as bad as firing your head coach and then having him sue the school. See Ollie, Kevin.
Is there anyone still a part of the team that played meaningful minutes last year? It seems like everyone is gone. Who do you expect to step up and be the core scorers for Georgetown this season with James Akinjo, Mac McClung and Omer Yurtseven all moving on to greener pastures?
A: Patrick Ewing‘s teams have not had issues scoring 70 per game. Defense is not quite consistent. The Hoyas are returning two senior starters in Pickett and Blair, plus a freshman, Wahab, who started at center down the stretch, along with bringing on two graduate transfers who should play decent minutes. There’s plenty of experience, but, altogether we have eight new guys on the team. The law of averages dictates that at least seven of them should be All BIG EAST at some point of their careers, if not this season.
Georgetown had generally avoided the transfer bug for so long that it was bound to happen spectacularly. With this latest transfer, signs are pointing to chemistry issues perhaps based on his roster presence and the attention it brought. One of Georgetown‘s better wins last season was at Butler where none of the three you mentioned were playing and the ball was moving very nicely. We will miss Yurtseven but he should have a solid pro career here or back home.
What’s Roy Hibbert up to these days?
A: Big Roy is a coach with the Sixers. We believe he focuses solely on teaching buzzer-beater three pointers.
What’s your opinion on Jim Boeheim?
A: Generally we pity Jim Boeheim because (a) he lost his championship ring while picking his nose and (b) he can’t be a part of the Big East anymore.
He chimed in about GU’s transfers last year and surprised us by defending Ewing with some common sense and basketball acumen. Even a broken clock, right? His program lacks discipline and deserves every piece of criticism we’ve tossed at him and those roadside trash cleaners in the Syracuse basketball alumni ranks.
These are a lot of words to say Jim Boeheim sucks.