On Thursday, Madison Square Garden played host to the Big Ten media day. The conference will stage its postseason get-together at the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” so it was natural to tip off the season in the storied edifice.
Commissioner Jim Delany opened the event, with remarks from the conference coaches following. Media also had the opportunity to interview coaches and players in breakout sessions. As expected, some responses fell into the category of scripted. The word “excited” was employed to the nth degree. There were meaningful opinions regarding the move to a 20-game conference schedule next season, as well as the week off between the conference tournament starting a week earlier.
Sometimes, these media days embrace a universal value or topic. This was certainly the case on this sun-drenched fall day. While the FBI investigations in college basketball were mentioned, there was another item, for the time being, drawing more attention: The opportunity to showcase the Big Ten Tournament at the Garden was something discussed by all coaches. And, it should be stressed, it was a subject talked about with a fervor suggesting the said coaches would hit the sideline in a New York minute. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo called the Garden the Mecca of basketball. He is not the first, but does have firsthand experience coaching on the big stage a number of times.
There was a notable air of excitement among coaches of the self-proclaimed best conference in America, not a bit of surprise in that regard. The conference with over a century of history and midwestern roots is now headed east for its debut on Broadway.
The Big Ten with the official welcome in the Madison Square Garden lobby:
Some of the players in attendance, entering the Garden:
Two legends exchanging pleasantries: Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo and Hall of Fame writer Dick Weiss, the longtime national columnist at the Philadelphia Daily News and New York Daily News:
The ever-present concourse bar, not open for business on this day:
The nerve center of the day's activities, the media work room inside MSG's theater lobby:
Rutgers forward Deshawn Freeman strikes a pose:
A discussion panel between Minnesota players and head coach Richard Pitino, live on the Big Ten Network studio set:
The aforementioned Richard Pitino, fielding questions in the media breakout session:
Ray with Big Ten rookie Michael "Mex" Carey, the longtime former athletic communications director at Georgetown who made the move to Michigan State in the offseason: