Louisville Wins First Big East Title

March 15th, 2009
NEW YORK- The time when fatigue begins to show in most cases is the beginning of the second half. Why here? It's easy for the body to start, but restarting after sitting for fifteen minutes is a far more difficult task. That's exactly what happened to Syracuse in the title game of the Big East Championship, going from handling Louisville's pressure to tossing lax crosscourt passes. The Cardinals, who won their first Big East Championship crown, jumped out on a 21-5 run to start the second half to go from down eight to up eight.

"It's like being chased by a pitbull and you can't stop running; you keep running for your life," said point guard Jonny Flynn of the Cardinal pressure. Syracuse was able to attack the press with the dribble in the first half with success but when their legs went they were careless with the ball. That, along with Louisville's three-point margin of +18, is what did them in.

in the first half the Orange had thirteen assists to seven turnovers; the second stanza saw them struggle to the tune of three assists and ten turnovers. Syracuse hit half their three-point attempts in the first half; 0-for-8 in the second. Eric Devendorf led Syracuse with twenty points while Jonny Flynn added eleven and six assists and was awarded the Dave Gavitt Award symbolizing the Championship's Most Outstanding Player. But Saturday night was all about Rick Pitino's team, an experienced outfit that has added another piece of evidence that they should be on that top seed line.

"I told the guys (at halftime) that it's not going to happen in a minute or two like it did last night, but it did," said Coach Pitino. Point guard Andre McGee noted that "even when they're breaking the press through dribbling it wears guys out." None of the four Louisville guards made the All-Tournament Team, but there's no mistaking the impact they had on this weekend.

Earl Clark and Terrence Williams, both of whom did receive that honor, are one of the most versatile (and best) forward tandems in the nation and freshman Samardo Samuels was a factor offensively in the second half (thirteen second-half points). In all, six Cardinals reached double figures as the team shot 60.9% from the field in the second half.

Louisville's victory means the thirteenth for the top seed in the thirty-year history of the Big East, and Flynn became the third player to be named MOP despite losing the final. The other three are Victor Page (Georgetown, 1996), Alonzo Mourning (Georgetown, 1992) and Pearl Washington (Syracuse, 1986).

All-Tournament Team:

MOP Jonny Flynn (Syracuse)
G Eric Devendorf (Syracuse)
G A.J. Price (Connecticut)
F Devin Ebanks (West Virginia)
F Earl Clark (Louisville)
F Terrence Williams (Louisville)

Team of the Day: Louisville
It's time to give this team their just due. Regular seaon champs and tournament champs, there should be no doubt that this team is a one seed when the brackets come out.

On the "clock": Connecticut

The most likely candidate to drop to a two seed with Louisville and Memphis taking care of business, the Huskies should still be in position to begin their NCAA Tournament in Philadelphia. As for who they get "paired" with as the top seed in the region (should they get a two), that's the key. Memphis and Pittsburgh look to be the matchups that would give them the most difficulty.

Quote of the Day: "We were going to reload in Conference USA but had to rebuild in the Big East." -Rick Pitino on the change his program underwent when entering the Big East before the 2005-06 season.