Mitch’s Pitch: Keep on Dreaming, St. John’s
If you have about five minutes of free time, keep reading. If not, come back a little later because I’m about to take you on a fantasy ride.
It’s March 16 and you’re at Madison Square Garden, screaming your heart out in the St. John’s student section as your beloved Johnnies face off against Georgetown or Syracuse or Pittsburgh or Providence (let those Friars dream!) in the Big East tournament championship game.
Imagine the electricity in the arena. Imagine jumping in shear joy as Chris Obekpa swats away a sure layup into the fourth row late in the second half. Imagine losing your voice as you yelp like an Amazon warrior after Jamal Branch slashes to the rim to give your Johnnies a one point lead with 20 seconds left.
Then imagine the sickness you’ll feel in your stomach after the other team takes the lead with only seven seconds left on the clock. Imagine coming so close to a tournament title and a free trip to the big dance, only for it to ripped from the palms of your hands. Imagine staring at the people around you, totally deflated, as if all hope has been lost. You’re wondering why they always do this to you? They drag you in when you know it’s not a good idea. They let you dream of things that you have no right to wish for. They get you thinking about that happy ending like you’re living in a Disney movie.
It’s like the team’s got a colder heart than Summer from 500 Days of Summer…too harsh? Good.
But wait. This fantasy isn’t over yet. There’s still seven seconds left, remember?
Imagine Obekpa inbounding the ball to White. White sprints up the floor in less than two seconds and chucks the ball to JaKarr Sampson. The moment the ball touches his hands he drives right, stops on a dime, rises into the air and, unorthodox form and all, lets the ball fly to meet its destiny at the rim.
At this point, you’re sick to your stomach. You can barely watch. Everything is happening in slow motion. You’re staring at the ball as it heads towards the rim…oh no, it looks long. You stare as the ball hits the backboard and drops through the net. The bank was open tonight.
Imagine the roar from the crowd as JaKarr flashes that Big East Rookie of the Year smile as his teammates pile on top him. Imagine as the sea of red surrounding you in the stands rushes onto that famous Mecca floor, totally bypassing those notorious security goons.
Imagine celebrating a Big East tournament title on the court as Lavin saunters over for a post game handshake with the losing coach before sprinting to join his players in celebration. Imagine realizing that your St. John’s men’s
basketball team has just booked a ticket to the NCAA tournament.
…..now wake up.
Odds are that the Johnnies won’t be celebrating a Big East tournament title this weekend. There are just too many voids that still need to be filled for them to make an honest run towards the title.
But don’t let the Johnnies’ mediocrity this season get to you. Have faith. This tournament will be a launching pad for the Red Storm – they’ll surely head into next season intent on making an indelible mark on the national level.
I know, I know. We hear this story every year. ‘Johnnies have bad season, next year they’ll be better, blah, blah, blah.’
But consider this: The Red Storm will have the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year (please stay, JaKarr), a core group of experienced juniors (Cue Sir Dom, Phil Greene and Amir Garrett), a new and improved D’Angelo Harrison and the recently eligible Orlando Sanchez, who has been described as a ‘man amongst boys.’ Oh, and don’t forget about the recruits that Lavin plans on luring to Queens.
Enjoy the Big East tournament, Red Storm fans. The Johnnies won’t be making a deep run, but I guarantee you that at this time next year, you’ll be reading a column that lauds a nationally ranked team that has its eyes on a couple of games in, dare I say it….April.