The 2023 Big East Media Day was nothing short of exciting. Gathered together in The World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, the conference collectively celebrated its recent successes and admired the promises of a brighter future still yet to come.
Last season, the conference solidified itself as a national powerhouse as five teams earned an invitation to the Men’s NCAA Tournament, including the national champion UConn Huskies and the Big East regular season and tournament champion Marquette Golden Eagles.
Five players, headlined by UConn guard Jordan Hawkins and Villanova forward Cam Whitmore, were selected in the 2023 NBA draft while others, including standout Husky center Adama Sanogo, signed contracts with NBA teams as undrafted free agents.
The conference now looks forward to a plethora of new talent and exciting opportunities for notable coaching returners such as St. John’s Rick Pitino and Georgetown’s very own Ed Cooley to make their mark.
In her opening remarks for the men’s basketball portion of the Big East Media Day, Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman expressed her pride in the conference’s continued successes since realignment 10 years ago.
“I remember standing in front of the journalists at our first media day at Chelsea Piers in the fall of 2013 attempting to be optimistic, not really knowing,” Ackerman said. “And I’m here today, truly excited about the coming year, and also very proud about what our schools have accomplished since those early years.”
Returning to the present, Ackerman listed a series of initiatives across the conference to continue growing the sport. From DePaul and Seton Hall renovating their sports facilities to the conference working to extend its lease with Madison Square Garden, the Big East is making steady progress toward improving its basketball infrastructure.
Ackerman said the Big East’s current makeup promotes a healthier, more competitive basketball culture compared to the uncertainty engendered by new conference alignments, particularly across high majors.
“We believe these sorts of benefits will be lessened or lost with the unbalanced basketball schedules that the newly enlarged conferences will be left with,” Ackerman said. “And while not every school can finish in first place or the top half of the conference standings, every single one of our schools is invested in this sport.”
Georgetown is among the schools putting more resources into its basketball program, following another disappointing season in which the team finished 7-25 overall with a pitiful 2-18 record in-conference. The arrival of Cooley this past spring as the new head coach represented a much-needed fresh start for the Hoyas.
Cooley will have the opportunity this upcoming season to begin instilling a winning culture and slowly revitalize the program.
In an interview with The Field of 68, Cooley said his focus is to establish a healthy foundation for the Georgetown basketball program.
“I’m not here for legacy,” Cooley said. “I’m here to win, I’m here to graduate young men, and I’m here to make change. That’s what I’m here for.”
While Cooley and his staff will inevitably encounter difficulties as a result of a completely overhauled roster, they have talent to work with. Transfers such as sophomore guard Jayden Epps, junior forward Dontrez Styles and graduate forward Ismael Massoud all have experience playing at the highest levels of college basketball and will be integral to the team’s early identity.
The Hoyas also expect returning senior guards Jay Heath and Wayne Bristol Jr. to make an impact and have high hopes for first-year center Drew Fielder, the lone member of Cooley’s first recruiting class currently on the team.
Styles said Cooley and his staff have had a considerable impact on the team so far, which has translated into the team’s high expectations for themselves.
“You can expect us to go out there and play hard as a group,” Styles told The Hoya. “As a whole, we have a great group of guys and a great coaching staff.”
Epps said the team’s growing chemistry will make for an exciting year, especially when all the different skill sets available on the team begin to mesh together.
“All summer, we’ve been working hard on just trying to come together because we’re all from different teams,” Epps said in an interview with the Big East Network. “So we’ve all been trying to come together, bring all from where we’ve been at and bring all of our skills to come together and be as one so we can win games.”
“I feel like it’s going to be an exciting year for us.”