The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

School spirit is up as Red Storm head to tournament

St. John’s students, faculty and administrators packed into Carnesecca Arena for a pep rally to send the Red Storm men’s basketball team off to the NCAA tournament.

Enthusiasm radiated from several hundred members of the University community in attendance as they sat waiting to see the team they have supported through good times and bad. Many of the students present had come to St. John’s with the 14 seniors on the court and have been closely watching the team during their climb back to the top.

Coming off of their first season of 20 plus wins since 2002-03, the players and coaching staff thanked their fans one more time before going off to Denver to play Gonzaga University this Thursday in the first round of March Madness.

Mark Fratto, associate athletic director, announced the players as they walked onto the court to a standing ovation from their fans.

Crowd favorites Kevin Clark, Dele Coker and Malik Boothe elicited loud cheers from the stands, but it was D.J. Kennedy and Dwight Hardy who stole the show.

The injured Kennedy, who will miss playing in the tournament due to a torn ACL, limped onto the court to a chorus of “Do it for D.J.,” the new motto of STJ fans. Hardy walked out last and was greeted with chants of “M.V.P.”

Senior forward Justin Burrell addressed the crowd on behalf of the team, thanking them for all their support and expressing the team’s desire to do their best for the University community.

After a resounding round of “Let’s go, Johnnies,” head coach Steve Lavin spoke, echoing Burrell’s statements and reflecting on what the team had accomplished.

“This journey with the Johnnies has been an experience we will never forget,” Lavin said, speaking on behalf of his coaching staff.

“They’ve written their own chapter in the history of St. John’s basketball that will never be forgotten.”

Around campus, students seemed to be getting excited about the chance to watch the Red Storm battle it out on a national level. After years of watching their team struggle, many seem ready for the next level.

Christian Coirim, a sophomore, expressed his satisfaction at the mere fact that the men’s basketball team was ranked for the first time in years. He credited Lavin with being the change that St. John’s needed.

“It’s since him coming to the team you’ve seen improvement,” Coirim said. “I think he brings a lot of energy to the team.”

Richard Itwaru, also a sophomore, believes that the players themselves are more of a contributing factor to the team’s success.

“The fact that they are seniors plays more of a role than him being the coach,” he said. “The fact of him being there just cut the raw diamond.”

Others focus on now, the tournament brings deserved notoriety to the University.

“It brings more attention to the school,” said Stephanie Pereira Lima, a junior. “It will definitely help us get our name out there.”

Most agreed, however, that the most important outcome of the team’s accomplishment was the sense of pride felt by the entire University community.

Vanessa Felix, a junior, said that she felt it was time for the Red Storm to make a comeback.

“We’re going to have a sense of unity,” she said. “I’m proud of them, it’s about time. Now we are St. John’s.”

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