Four Left Out of Big East Garden Party

Joni Mitchell wrote and sang the lyric "And we got to get ourselves back to the garden." Without a doubt, that is what Jerry Wainwright has been telling his DePaul men's basketball team over the last few weeks.

The team's goal has been to get into the Big East Conference Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Blue Demons fell short of that goal on Saturday losing at Notre Dame 66-61.

When the Big East tournament brackets were announced on Sunday afternoon, twelve teams were listed, while four were left home. DePaul, Providence, St. John's and South Florida were all left behind.

The purpose of a conference tournament is to give everyone an opportunity to start with a clean slate. Yet due to the size of the gargantuan Big East, these four were shut out.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim recently commented on the unfairness of the tournament format. "Everybody should be in the Big East tournament," said Boeheim. "It's absolutely embarrassing and it's something that never should have been allowed to happen."

"The coaches, who are obviously are the dumbest people, voted 16-0 to have everybody come to New York," Boeheim said sarcastically. "We're obviously the dumbest people in the league. Nobody listens to us. We're just not as smart as the other people."

One of those people would be Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese who has felt the push for 16 teams in New York. "They have already pushed for it, it's not going to happen though," said Tranghese. "It's not going to happen unless the (university) presidents tell me. In the history of our league, I don't think Dave Gavitt or myself have ever opposed our coaches on an important matter. This is the first time. Taking 16 teams would create a logistical monstrosity. It would cost us a lot of money. But money is not the issue. We're going to force our best teams to play four days in a row and that's no way to prepare for the NCAA tournament. We're trying to win national championships."

"What it's going to do is you're always going to have this battle to see who wins the league," Tranghese remarked. "Then you're going to have the battle in the middle to see who gets in the tournament. Now you're going to have the battle to see who gets to New York. I think it's going to increase the intensity and the interest."

"Bringing 16 teams, all it was going to do was impose a whole bunch of other problems," Tranghese said. "I thought it was really unfair to our best teams."

Or, is it really unfair to the four teams that are left out in the cold? At this Garden party, there is only seating for 12.

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