There was a point last basketball season when I was sitting at Madison Square Garden and thought to myself something along the lines of, ‘this program is headed in the right direction, but I may have seen all the big moments I was destined to see as a freshman in 2010-11.’
Now, it looks like I may be wrong, very wrong. The men’s basketball team sits at 13-7 and 5-3 in conference and is looking straight down the barrel at a February stretch that could either leave them dancing in March or looking back at what could have been.
Either way, it’s time for the students to get behind this team and make the Garden rock the way it was when Dwight Hardy scored a reverse layup with less than two seconds left to defeat a No. 4 ranked Pittsburgh team in front of more than 14,000 screaming New Yorkers.
This team is a group of kids that believed enough in the potential of the program and the university that they were willing to commit to a team that had barely won a big game in the last decade. They said as a group that they wanted to bring the Johnnies back and wanted to be the ones to next be etched into St. John’s history
We, as New York basketball fans, are a fickle group of people. We don’t get too excited over sub-par seasons. This isn’t Morgantown, W. Va. or Bloomington, Ind. or Spokane, Wash. People in this city have a multitude of things to do and spending a night watching a college team over a professional one doesn’t rank high on the list, especially when that team is struggling.
The result of this is that our group of freshmen, who came here to win under the spotlight of this great city, had to deal with a three-quarters empty Garden at a time when they were grappling with eligibility and transfer issues. Now, there is no excuse. These underclassmen are poised to do something special.
Wednesday night, the Red Storm will take the floor against DePaul in the next step of this process. It’s not the most glamorous opponent, but it matters just as much as any other conference match-up. The one thing they deserve the most, not just tonight, but when they play Connecticut at home next week, is a packed student section that is proud of the way they’ve come back from the adversity and the early missteps of non-conference play to be put in the national conversation when it matters.
In the next month, the Johnnies will need to beat the teams that can be beat (DePaul, Connecticut, USF, Pittsburgh, at Providence and Marquette) as well as one or two of the games that
people will say they can’t (at Georgetown, at Syracuse, at Louisville and at Notre Dame.)
Those games that are among the “must-win” games? All of them are home games except for one. That means there’s no excuse not to be there. The days of getting 7,000 people to a home game at the World’s Most Famous Arena should be long behind us.
Winning changes things around here. I know I keep referring back to 2011, but there’s a reason for that. When the tournament rolled around, everyone who was present on campus saw how awesome a school wrapped up in its basketball team can be. There were the “We Are…St. John’s!” signs plastered on windows in every building (some of which can still be spotted to this day), ESPN radio doing a live show from the D’Angelo Center and pep rallies galore.
I can assure you, it’s all much more exciting than students complaining about financial aid. But it all starts with you. Without the students caring, there’s no reason to do any of it. There’s no basketball team, there’s no coverage, there’s no St. John’s University.
So get on the bandwagon and be a part of something special. Be a part of the only major college
basketball program in New York City and the only team to call Madison Square Garden home. Go to the games and cheer on the players who play in a way that should make New York proud.
Will them to March, to the tournament where anything can happen and I promise you, they’ll give you excitement, their best effort and who knows – maybe something to celebrate on the national stage.