NEW YORK — It was a little disconcerting to hear Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin get introduced Wednesday morning at Madison Square Garden. Did we ride a time machine? Was it 1985?
Actually, it really was 2017 and the two most significant Big East players as the conference became a college basketball powerhouse were part of a coaches’ panel, each now back at his alma mater, Ewing, after a long NBA apprenticeship in his first season at Georgetown and Mullin about to begin his third at St. John’s.
Their fellow head coaches, all old enough to remember them as Hall of Fame players and members of the 1992 Dream Team, were, however, less impressed with the teams they are coaching. St. John’s was picked sixth and Georgetown ninth in the preseason poll.
Still, for those inclined toward nostalgia, it was a step back in time during the conference’s media day. When the games start, of course, the outcomes will be about their players much more than it will be about them.
“It’s kind of cool,’’ Mullin said of his coaching reunion with Ewing. “Patrick’s playing career speaks for itself. … I’ve watched him as a coach [in the NBA].’’
St. John’s appears, at least, to be headed in the right direction (8-24, 1-17 in Mullin’s first season,14-19, 7-11 last season) with two preseason second-team players in Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds. Georgetown, which has fallen so far that John Thompson III got fired, did not even have a player make honorable mention on the preseason all-Big East team.
Once you get past Villanova, which has owned the conference over the last four seasons, Seton Hall and Xavier are legit, with senior stars Angel Delgado and Trevon Bluiett. The Hall and Xavier were two of seven league teams to make the 2017 NCAA tournament. Only Xavier, which finished 9-9 in the league, but got to the Elite 8, made any kind of NCAA run, but when you get 70 percent of your teams in the tournament, it is a good season.
This season? It remains Villanova and all others, even those teams coached by Ewing and Mullin.