Friday, December 04, 2009

St Johns Red Storm Basketball v Duke and 2009-2010

Still haven't warmed to the Red Storm name. Let's go Red-men. clap-clap-clapclapclap.
We watch sports for hope that one day we'll get to revel in a championship. I root for the Mets, they haven't won since 1986, when I was but a wee coach on Pop Dukes' lap. I root for the Knicks, they haven't won since 1973. I root for the 'Gers, who won in 1994, but it's hockey. I root for the Giants, who won in 2008, which was a blast but I don't care much for football. I root for Manchester United, who have won a ton, and while I've watched some of their title-clinching games in bars and at home with Coups and Pops, it's different and ultimately hollow to cheer for a team from a different country and culture. Lastly, I cheer for St. John's, who have never won an NCAA championship. But in 2003 St John's won the NIT at the Garden, and Frownie and I were there. It was the greatest sporting event I've been to, culminating with Frownie and I rushing the Garden floor alongside Frownie's new friends the Elijah Ingram's family, and running into fellow Johnnie -lover Josh Dick under the hoop.

Like almost every other metro-area team, the Johnnies have fallen off the face of the earth. Coach Norm Roberts has restored stability to the program. While stability is important considering that NCAA violations under Mike Jarvis forced the Johnnies to relinquish that 03 NIT Crown, it only goes so far for a program as storied as St. John's.

It's criminal that the NYC metro area is a college basketball wasteland considering that the area seeds so many national powers with players. West Virginia, Kansas, Cincy and Kentucky are amongst the programs to have benefited from metro players in recent years. Sure, kids want to go away to college, but surely some must want to stay at home. And players from outside the area must want to come to play for a program that plays its home games at Madison Square Garden.

What's ironic is that this fallow period for St. John's comes during an era where the school has invested massive sums in building dorms in making a transition from a commuter school to a campus-based school. This should be an added bonus for recruiting, but Roberts has yet to even get the Johnnies back in the NIT. Inexcusable.

This season likely represents Roberts' last stand, and so far he's doing the best he can with the team off to a 6-0 start, including a win over back-to-back March Madness members Siena.
Also not the biggest fan of their new "STJ" logo.
The season turns for-real-for-real this Saturday when the Johnnies take on Duke at Cameron. In a further sign of St. John's' downfall Duke has decided to end this series. Part of the appeal for Duke was the chance to play a game in the Garden every two years. The Garden was once St. John's' ultimate recruiting advantage. But these days, MSG plays host to almost as much college baskets as it did in the golden age of the 50's.
Surprise! This is what Duke's best player looks like. His name is Kyle Singler.
St. John's usually plays Duke tuff. This game and their next against Gawgia represent their only two significant out-of-conference games for the rest of the season. In a down year for the Big East, it better be an up year for St. John's.

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