A large crowd of Marquette fanatics attended a "Welcome to the Big East" rally held outside of the Alumni Memorial Union Thursday afternoon that celebrated the school's move to the recently restructured conference. Both the men and women's basketball teams made appearances, signed autographs and Tom Crean and Terri Mitchell were in attendance as students and fans packed the Westowne Square for the event. During the main portion of the program the public heard from Athletic Director Bill Cords and both coaches as they gave their take on the move to the new conference and the Marquette community got its first look at the new Big East logo. Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese could not be present as scheduled because of a family emergency, but Cords expressed his desire to be there in order to welcome a great member to the new Big East.
The event was emceed by the voice of Marquette basketball, Steve "Homer" True, and each of the people he introduced expressed their excitement of participating in this great new conference. Cords said that this is the realization of a vision that goes back to Al McGuire's days as a commentator when Al insisted, "The Big East is where they belong." Cords went on to explain that the school sold itself when it came time for the conference to make a decision as to which schools would be included in the expansion. Marquette administrators "did not advertise as some other schools did, rather let the reputation of the school speak for itself, " he said.
These sentiments were echoed by Terri Mitchell, when she spoke about the Marquette traditions of excellence and sense of family, "Some talk about excellence but they are not close knit, we come together in everything we do…We have both." She expressed that her women's team is as excited as everyone else saying, "We are going in to win it. We are ready."
When Tom Crean took the stage, the attention was turned to the basketball team and looking forward to the first Big East season to the effects that the move has already had on the team. "Getting into the Big East was, in basketball terms, a ‘Slam Dunk,' due to the excellence of our academics and athletics."
Crean feels that Marquette has done a great job preparing for this move. "Now we are putting the final touches on one of the top ten recruiting class in the nation, and the Big East has been a huge part of that."
As for the higher caliber of teams in the Big East, Crean thinks that the expansion will make it second to none. "We are going to a big time level. There is no league on paper that is better or more challenging than the Big East."
Some say that the expectations are low for the first season in such a competitive conference, but those people were few are far between at the rally. Cords admitted that the conference will offer some challenges and that "it is going to be a monster conference, but I think we will be very competitive at this level."
Joe Chapman thinks that Marquette will surprise people though. "We are going to be a great team, and we expect to win 20-plus games next season. Yeah, we will come in as the underdogs, but that is a position I like to be in." Chapman said he also looks forward to the higher level of competition, "You don't to take a night off in this conference. You have to work hard and bring your ‘A' game all the time."
It is obvious that the Marquette is prepared for the Big East. With such a positive attitude from a team as young and scrappy as next year's promises to be, the Big East had better prepare for Marquette.
Marquette Welcomed Into The Big East
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