New Big East gives other women's teams a chance

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm •  Published: December 31, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — With the New Year, a new chance for Big East teams to win the conference title without Connecticut.

There's a feeling of hopefulness among the 10 coaches in the newly configured Big East as conference play gets underway.

In the previous 25 years, only three current members have won the Big East tournament — the last coming in 2003 when Villanova upset Connecticut. It's been 17 years since one of them won the regular season championship.

"There is no question this league is wide open," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "Anyone from 1 to 10 can win this league. I was never bothered by the fact that the old setup put you in a position that you were fighting for third or fourth. Third or fourth in the Big East was a Final Four level team. In the present Big East, everyone can win it."

Bruno's Blue Demons, the preseason favorite to win the conference, begin Big East play Wednesday when they host Xavier. St. John's and Seton Hall, two of the founding members of the conference, opened up the "new" league Saturday.

The teams put on a fun, competitive game in front of a spirited crowd with the Red Storm holding on for a 72-63 win. In the past, one loss to anyone other than Connecticut or Notre Dame would doom any chance of a title. Now the winner of the conference might have a few losses.

"All of us know that anyone can win it," St. John's coach Joe Tartamella said. "We want to be the benchmark similar to the dynasties of the past. One thing I know is that you got to show up every game and you can't take a night off."

New Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella is no stranger to having one team dominate a conference. He came from the MAAC, where Marist has controlled the league for years. When he arrived at Seton Hall last spring to replace Anne Donovan, he knew the Pirates had a chance to be competitive despite finishing near the bottom of the league the past few seasons.

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