In Brooklyn, Atlantic 10 Has an Eye on the Future
October 13, 2011
BROOKLYN, N.Y.—At the Atlantic 10 Conference's Media Day, held in the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday, coaches and players considered the impact of their championship tournament's scheduled 2013 move to the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn.
As the Atlantic 10 Conference readies itself for the 2011-12 men’s basketball season, even with practices beginning tomorrow, the coaches can’t help but keep an eye on the future. For the first time, their Media Day took place in Brooklyn, inside the conference rooms of the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, minutes away from the conference tournament’s future home at the Barclays Center.
After one final go-round at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., the A-10 Tournament will move to the under-construction Barclays Center for five years, beginning in 2013. The downtown Brooklyn locale will help entrench the A-10’s presence (beyond Fordham’s Bronx location) in basketball-hungry New York City.
“I think one thing that helps recruiting is that you take the aura of the Big East and the Garden; we have this Nets arena that’s gonna be great,” said Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus, who coached former Nets forward Keith Van Horn at Utah. “What does every kid want to do? Every kid wants to be (former Xavier guard Jordan Crawford) and go on to the NBA. Now you’ve got an NBA affiliation, and an NBA arena. You’ve got the steak and the sizzle. It’s a great move.”
Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade touts her conference as the premier basketball-only league in Division I, and the results offer a strong case: at least three teams have made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons, and the conference has earned more at-large bids in the last six years than any other non-BCS conference.
Top talent also passes through: in the last 15 years, the A-10 has produced two players who earned recognition as the Naismith College Player of the Year, matching the Mountain West; only the ACC (7) and Big 12 (3) have more. Two of the conference’s top players, Xavier senior guard Tu Holloway and St. Bonaventure senior center Andrew Nicholson, were named to this year’s Preseason Top 50 list for the John R. Wooden Award.
Holloway, a native of Hempstead, N.Y., believes holding the Tournament at the Barclays Center will raise the conference’s profile, and provide an enticement for potential recruits.
“I’m going to be a senior, so I won’t have a chance to play in there, but you get to come in into New York, the Mecca of basketball and play in an NBA arena,” Holloway said. “That’ll be a big boost for the Atlantic 10 Conference.”
Many of the league’s coaches shared the sentiment, believing the exposure and opportunity to play in front of family and friends would each help recruit New York City-area student-athletes. And with the long-entrenched Big East Tournament scheduled to take place simultaneously at Madison Square Garden, the city will soon get a double-dose of high-stakes college action, with Championship contests taking place on Saturday (Big East) and Sunday (A-10).
And though the arena won’t open until September 2012, it wasn’t difficult for the Atlantic 10 to envision the final product.
“Everyone knows it’s going to be big-time,” said La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini. “Everyone knows you’re building a state-of-the-art NBA facility, so there was no concern about it being anything less than spectacular.”