That is what Donny Marshall thinks Myles Powell and Markus Howard should say next week as they ready to play the final Big East games of their illustrious careers when the Big East Tournament tips off at Madison Square Garden.
The two senior guards, Powell from Seton Hall and Howard from Marquette, are a rarity these days. Both resisted the lure of the NBA draft a year ago for one more chance at college basketball glory.
“They’ve given the fans four years of this amazing basketball,” said Marshall, a Fox Sports analyst who starred at UConn in the early ’90s, when the Huskies were still in the Big East.
“Everyone should thank them because it doesn’t happen anymore. Four years to watch them develop and turn into terrific leaders for their teams. One a chubby kid from Trenton that lost some 40-50 pounds to get to this point of being a terrific scorer. And this kid from Arizona, leaving the warmest place you could be from to go to one of the coldest in Marquette and is now one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball history.”
Powell helped the Pirates reach the Big East final a year ago — where they lost to Villanova — with 78 points in three games. The semifinal victory came over Marquette, where Howard — coming off a 30-point torching of St. John’s — was a dismal 1 of 15 from the floor. His chance for redemption comes Thursday when the Golden Eagles look to improve their NCAA Tournament seeding.
“I hope people appreciate how awesome that has been,” Marshall said. “For me, it’s bittersweet. I love that they are going to get the chance to play professionally and make a lot of money, but it’ll be sad when you go to see a Seton Hall and Marquette game and they won’t be there.”
The duo has also watched as Villanova has walked away as Big East Tournament champions in each of the pair’s first three seasons. Jay Wright’s team will be a factor this year again. The Wildcats spoiled Powell’s Senior Night with a 79-77 victory Wednesday.
Villanova’s success has gone beyond the Big East, winning two of the past four national championships. Seton Hall is expected to be a No. 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but success in the field of 68 has been elusive in the Kevin Willard era, and the last time they reached the Sweet 16 was 2000.
“I think it’s a Final Four team without question,” Marshall said. “Some of us prognosticators — because of our proximity to the conference and our respect of Kevin Willard — have been a little high on Seton Hall in the past. I sincerely don’t think that is the case this year.
“Powell should be Player of the Year the way this team has progressed. They also have some really quality guards around him in [Jared] Rhoden and [Quincy] McKnight. They have some guys that can step in and fill some of those gaps and they have some size. The most important thing in order to go deep into the tournament is that their defense travels. They’ve done it all season long.”
The momentum starts at the Garden, though.
“There’s no more electric place than MSG during the Big East Tournament,” Marshall said.
Powell and Howard know that well.