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

SJU Students Celebrate the Beginning of Men & Women’s Basketball Season

Over 5,000 eager students packed Carnesecca Arena on Friday night to celebrate the start of the men and women’s basketball seasons during Tip-Off, where the teams were announced for the first time.

Energy seemed to be oozing out of the arena as crazed students waved their glow sticks, creating a unique environment never before seen in Carnesecca Arena.

Feeding off the crowd’s energy, both the dance and cheer teams amped the arena up even more with their respective performances. Then the lights slowly dimmed and the anticipation could be felt throughout the entire arena. Player introductions shortly followed and each athlete was revealed through thick red fog.

Most players came out dancing and showed vibrant energy. Rysheed Jordan was welcomed via Bobby Shmurda’s hit song and displayed a smooth “shmoney” dance. Notable players like D’Angelo Harrison, Aliyyah Handford, Sir’Dominic Pointer and Tamesha Alexander also felt the music and decided to dance for the screaming crowd.

Coaches were then introduced and received the same praise as the players. Women’s coach Joe Tartamella then spoke directly to the audience about the introduction of the “new” sixth man. He stressed the importance a student section can have on a home game and encouraged students to get more involved.

It was then time for a historic moment in St. John’s Women’s Basketball history. The Women’s NCAA Tournament banner was lifted, signifying a fifth consecutive year in March Madness play.

Men’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin then took the mic and spoke about the upcoming season. He promised a trip to the NCAA Tournament and mentioned key talents on his squad that can make the promise a reality.

After a short intermission, the women’s basketball team took the floor for a short intersquad game. First minute jitters were quite clear as players slowly started to shake off their pre-season rust. Aaliyah Lewis got started early by finding her mid-range jumper and connecting on three straight field goals. Highlighted performances were also turned in by Kyra Dunn, Danaejah Grant, Tana Wade and Jade Walker who all looked crisp in the exhibition.

The Red Storm Shootout, an annual competition, consisted of two teams and was designed to test players’ shooting skills. Each team came out firing, netting shots from all angles. Ultimately, the team of D’Angelo Harrison, Khadim Ndiaye, Danaejah Grant and Crystal Simmons gained the edge, winning the shootout.

The men then took the floor and provided fireworks in their intersquad match. This scrimmage consisted of two six minute halves and had a blistering pace. Newcomer Adonis Delarosa contributed to the excitement with a few monster dunks. Also, Sir’Dominic Pointer showcased his new off-season range by nailing some deep three pointers. The turning point came late in the second half when D’Angelo Harrison elevated, dunking over Rysheed Jordan. The two shared a smile after and got right back to business.

Finally, the much-anticipated Dunk Contest was underway.  Sandra Udobi, Kyra Dunn, Selina Archer and Amber Thomson all filled in as guest judges for this star-studded event. Among the contestants were highflyers such as Phil Greene, Chris Obepka, Sir’Dominic Pointer and Myles Stewart. Each dunker was given two minutes to complete two dunks of their choice.

Sir’Dominic was the first to shine as he threw down an impressive windmill, which was shortly followed by a through the legs alley-oop. Phil Greene was up next and made great use of his teammate, D’Angelo Harrison, who threw a perfect alley-oop to a flying Greene, who finished with authority. With about one minute remaining, Greene brought the crowd to their feet with an extended windmill off a perfectly thrown alley-oop.

Newcomer Myles Stewart made his presence felt as he displayed an impressive vertical, pulling off a “rock the baby” style dunk. With his time expiring, Stewart pulled off an improvised dunk that didn’t go over too well with the judges. Chris Obekpa rounded out the contest with a powerful reverse dunk that excited the judges.

Ultimately, it was Greene and Obekpa who won over the judges, accumulating enough points to advance to the finals. Greene choose to go first and shut Carnesecca Arena down with a 360 alley-oop off the side of the backboard. Obekpa struggled to complete a dunk and surrendered to Greene by laying the ball in. Greene was then embraced by his teammates, even Obekpa, and was crowned champion.

The festivities were rounded out with special guest and glorified rap artist French Montana performing his hit tracks to the sell out crowd. Singing in unison, students helped French through his set and cheered as he walked off stage, signifying the end of yet another successful Tip-Off.

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