As the Big East Tournament gets ready to celebrate its 35th season at Madison Square Garden, we here at Big East Coast Bias had a chance to talk to a couple people who have seen their fair share of action at The Garden: FOX and CBS color commentator Len Elmore, and former St. John’s head coach and current FOX analyst Steve Lavin.
For starters, tradition is key, “a combination of tradition and quality coaches, quality styles of play, and the fans are great.” Elmore said. Despite the fact that the Big East looks a bit different now than in the late 90s when Elmore was the Tournament’s color commentator, he says the fan support hasn’t changed, adding, It’s a new crop of fans with the addition of the Catholic schools and the loss of UConn and Syrcause, but you still have folks like Villanova and Georgetown and Seton Hall that have been there for decades upon decades that the Big East has been there and they bring the excitement.”
Lavin, who has a bit of a different perspective on things having been a coach for five seasons, shares the same general sentiment. When I asked him about the Big East Tournament, he immediately mentioned Madison Square Garden as the primary reason, “Number one, I think, is Madison Square Garden. The greatest venue and city to perform in as an athlete or an entertainer, it’s the top of the mountain. I think there’s a palpable energy in New York in the week leading up to the Big East Tournament and throughout the competition.” Lavin said.
While the conference landscape has shifted over the years, one thing remains true: The Big East and Madison Square Garden have forged a special bond that will withstand as long as both sides want it to.