During quarantine, the Crier has been cooped up in a beach house on Long Island Sound (BOC comment – humblebrag much?). It could certainly be worse: I’m healthy, wake up to the ocean everyday, can’t complain. As I’m stuck in the house on a Friday night as the storm roles through, I thought, “What a better time to do a rewatch of a Friar classic hoops game”. I thought I would rewatch the 2014 Big East Title game for some positive nostalgia. Watching the game I thought this is a perfect idea for a return of the “Where Were You When” post. Unfortunately for us, John Xavier didn’t make a guest appearance in this game.
So, without further ado, Crier proudly presents to you the 2014 Big East Final.
The Crier: I’ll start off two days prior to the game. I was at the office and following the Seton Hall-Nova quarterfinal on my computer. Was Seton Hall going to do the impossible?? Shock the #1 seed Nova? If they do and the Friars can beat Saint Johns, this will set up an easy road to the BE Finals. Hall ended up scoring the massive upset, and I am ready for the PC SJ game. The Friars had SJ’s number all year yet I was nervous playing them a third time. I moved my lunch later in my shift so I could catch some of the game. I am in, of all places, a Quincy, MA Applebees, and the Friars get off to a hot start. They end up accumulating a massive lead before almost blowing it by the time I got back to my apartment. The Friars held serve, which sets up a favorable matchup vs Seton Hall in the semi final.
We played great in that one to the point where we were planning our pilgrimage to the Mecca from Boston before the game ended. We scored tickets and I booked a hotel via Hotel Tonight (more on that later).
BOC: So, unlike the Crier, I am a true fan and attended every single Big East Tournament game for the Friars in 2014. I went with my roommate at time who I lived with at PC and in NYC. He’s just as much a diehard as The Crier and me.
For those who have never been to the BET, go. Take off that Thursday and Friday from work and spend a long weekend in NYC. There is nothing like having an adult beverage on a 1pm on a Thursday watching your alma mater play hoops at the Mecca. It should be a bucket list item for all college b-ball fans.
We bought tickets for each game the day of, citing that many teams who had lost would be looking to unload their tickets at a reasonable rate. We were right. We didn’t have amazing seats but spent in total approximately $175 for 3 games. Can’t beat that to watch hoops in The Garden!
The Crier: We leave our Brookline, MA apartment early that Saturday morning making our way to Madison Square Garden. Me and the guys are too excited for the evening ahead. We have planned meeting up with some friends who were already in NYC. On top of that it was my first visit ever to the World’s Most Famous Arena and hopefully not my last. It was actually my first visit ever to NYC— the Big Apple really never attracted the 4-foot tall Crier. We finally arrive at and plan on checking into our hotel. I see a pair of Nova fans in the lobby. It turned out they booked the entire week thinking Nova would win it all, but decided to stay to see the rest of the tournament. Believe it or not a Nova fan was going to be rooting for the Friars that night. The concierge cannot seem to find the room that I booked. Turned out Hotel TONIGHT meant a hotel that night and I booked the day prior. Silly me.
Luckily they still had room for us, and I covered the cost of being an idiot. We were in NYC for the Friars trying to win their first Big East Championship since 1994, and a little mix up at the hotel wasn’t going to bring me down.
BOC: I don’t have any great pregame or postgame stories. I was running the NYC Half the following day after the championship, so I had to keep myself in check that championship Saturday. With the Championship on the line, I was thisclose to saying sayonara to the race, and just enjoying the game without any concerns for the next day. Thankfully, the rationale side won over, and I decided to ignore those temptations. I headed into the game ready to see if the Friars could continue their magical run.
The Crier: We go to Mustang Harry’s for a PC pregame, and I’ll never forget when this Creighton fan family got heckled out of the building because they went to the wrong pregame. Having some beers and sharing stories with friends got us ready for the big game. I remember walking into MSG and feeling this buzz in the arena I’ve never felt before. I had been to big Celtics playoff games and even Game 1 of the 2004 World Series, but this type of buzz was different. I couldn’t have been more amped for a game.
BOC: I can only imagine what the scene was like for a Creighton fan. NYC, St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, Championship on the line. All Creighton fans we engaged with were the nicest people in the world, but you could tell they were shell shocked by the intensity of the Friar fans. They didn’t see scenes like this in Omaha.
The Crier: The game starts out and Cooley decides to start out in a zone. Wait?! A zone?!?! Didn’t this Creighton team shoot the ever living day lights out against a Nova zone earlier in the year?
Despite my displeasure it worked, as the Friars really made the first half a slow, grind it out game. As much as I thought the Friars were playing a great game they only had 18 points with 4 minutes left in the 1st half. As Creighton starts to gain momentum late in the half they foul Josh Fortune shooting a 3. Fortune calmly nails down all 3 of them. After all, they did lead the country in free throw percentage (those were the days!).
BOC: It’s been 6 years, so it is easy to forget how good this Creighton team was. McDermott was a walking bucket, averaging a shade over 26 a game. He was a three time consensus All-American, led the country in scoring this year, and was named National POY.
They had Wragge, who was an absolute sniper from beyond the arc. Lastly, they had sixth year veteran point guard Grant Gibbs. More on him later…
The Crier: The second half starts, and the Friars are really starting to find a flow within the offense. I’m absolutely LOVING the PA announcer at MSG. “THREEE POINT BALLLLL BRYCE COTTON PC LEADS 36-27”. Its as good as the Celtics PA announcer when KG hits a 3, “KKKKKKKKKKK GGGGGGGGG….. FOR THREEEE!!!”. Even as Creighton is starting to get in a rhythm offensively, the Friars continue to have an answer. Friars lead by 7 with 7 to play.
BOC: When watching the game, you were waiting for Creighton to make a massive run. They were just too talented on offense. Every single time that run was seemingly about to happen, Providence would counter with a made bucket.
In the second half, Grant Gibbs had a few dirty plays that went uncalled by the refs. He was known for those antics (ask any UNC fan), and I’m glad none of our players succumbed to his questionable at best play.
The Crier: As much as Creighton has missed some good looks this game (Wragge was turrible), the Friars start to do the same. All of the sudden the Friars cannot score, and Creighton is creeping their way back in. As nerves start to set in, Bryce Cotton calms those with a coast-to-coast nifty layup in transition. That only lasts for so long when Dougie Drills 3 to cut the lead to 3 with 2 to play. After free throws from Cotton, Dougie hits one from Mars, 2 point game.
BOC: Every single time McDermott touched the ball, you held your breath. The three Mike referenced above seemed to be from the Big East logo. It was the type of performance where you cannot even be mad at your team. You til your cap to the opponent.
The Crier: After Dougie hits that one from the parking lot, I really start to get nervous. Cotton brings the ball up and gets a screen from Henton. LaDontae flashes to the basket but Manigat shuts that down quickly. Henton then decides to post up on the baseline. After some post moves, Henton decides to face up Manigat and gives him a few shimmies to create space. With 6 seconds left in the shot clock, Henton rises and fires. The Crier lets out a scream “NOOOO!!” as I didn’t think it was the best of looks. To prove I’m an idiot, he nails it, and a scream of exaltation and relief comes from the pro-Friar crowd. After McDermott misses one from Omaha, Gus Johnson exclaimed it was game over. The Friars were going to win the Big East Championship and make the Big Dance!
BOC: When looking at box score, you saw Cotton led the team in scoring, which was the norm for that year, but Henton was also massive on the glass, putting up 9 points and 13 rebounds. It was truly a team effort.
The Crier: The Friars are cutting the nets and me and my roommate make our way to the court. This is where the fun really begins. Along comes a MSG employee selling PC championship hats and t-shirts. I give her money to buy both but was $10 short. I get the hat and when I have the cash for the shirt as well I’m told I never paid at all. I get in an argument with the employee and finally the head MSG security comes out. “Just leave right now, get out of here!!” What?? This tough guy is really going to try and kick me out?? We have a yelling match that ensues with me getting an escort out of MSG. It was my first time there, but I left thinking a lawsuit would come. Suffice to say there were never posters up banning me from MSG and I’ve returned since! Friars are dancing and the 4-foot guy getting escorted out.
BOC: I stayed to see the team celebrate the championship and then high tailed it out of there. With us securing the BE championship, I knew the party would go until the early hours of the morning. While it would have been great to celebrate, winning the Big East championship was more than enough.
It was also great to see PC hold off a “new” member of the Big East and keep the Championship with the old guard. Since the realignment, no new teams in the Conference have won the Big East Tournament.
I’m sure the newer schools like UCONN are looking forward to winning their first Big East Championship.
Go Friars! What a trip down memory lane