Why the Big East is such a beast
Those who say that familiarity breeds contempt must be thinking of the old days in the Big East when all eight teams saw each other twice during the regular season and once more in the Big East tournament.
The competitiveness of eventual Hall of Fame coaches, the proximity of the schools to each other, players who grew up playing against each other every summer and during high school seasons up and down the East Coast, and television created rivalries that are still a large part of the college basketball landscape. And the byproduct was a conference full of teams that were ready for anything the NCAA Tournament threw at them in March.
Tradition, however, went out the window with conference expansion. While the league may be as competitive as it has ever been and still has its share of Hall of Fame coaches, there has been a different dynamic since the Big East expanded to 16 teams. Ten Big East teams currently reside in kenpom.com's Top 40, so it's a given that almost every game will be hand-to-hand combat.
But what makes the league more unique to coach in than any in college basketball is the preparation that is necessary to compete against 15 different opponents and styles of play over an 18-game schedule. With usually only a day or two to prepare, teams in the Big East must be ready for a diversity of man-to-man, zone and pressure defenses and will have to defend a variety of offenses, from NBA-oriented pick-and-roll to set-play to motion, run by opponents that play at completely different tempos.
A huge part of coaching is problem solving, and that starts long before the regular season ever gets under way. Hubie Brown used to tell high school and college coaches at clinics to prepare the most in preseason practice for the three toughest teams in their conference. That is problematic in the Big East because there are so many quality teams on the schedule. But you have to start somewhere.
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