Tip-off: A New Beginning


(Photo: Gina Palermo, Torch Design Editor)

Wilson Sy, Staff Writer

The Red Storm kicked off the start of basketball season at Tip-Off on Friday. The annual celebration brought together thousands of students to cheer on the men’s basketball team in support for the  start of the season. 

It was a night filled with contests and giveaways to promote school spirit. The first 1,000 students received a t-shirt and a light-up “Spirit Stick,” courtesy of RedZone. One won his way to a Qdoba lunch for 20 people in time for the start of player introductions. Another student, senior Jonathan Byrne, participated in the shooting challenge for the 2016 Chevy Camaro, but came up short on the free-throw attempts before attempting a half-court shot as time expired. Two students also joined the Arby’s 3-Point Shootout and won free Arby’s for an entire section.

The players were then shortly introduced. For the men’s program, there were 10 new players in their respective roster. The women’s team added two freshmen, 6’1 forward Jordan Agustus and 5’11 guard Akina Wellere.

After the assistant coaches of both teams were announced, a special shout-out was made to the accomplishments to the 2015 men’s basketball graduates Phil Greene IV, D’Angelo Harrison and Sir’Dominic Pointer before the unveiling of the men’s 2015 NCAA Tournament banner.

The momentum began building up when fans were cheering happily, “Mullin! Mullin! Mullin!” when new men’s basketball head coach and St. John’s basketball legend Chris Mullin was introduced and addressed the crowd.

“It’s great to be home,” Mullin said. “This brings back so many great time memories. Playing in this court makes this the most toughest place to play in the Big East.”

Mullin then gave a special shout out to St. John’s President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw. Fans then cheered, “Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!”

“Good evening St. John’s,” Dr. Gempesaw said. “Welcome to the start of the basketball season. Tonight is the celebrating of a long history of our men’s and women’s basketball program.”

President Gempesaw then gave a welcoming surprise by removing his jacket to reveal a referee’s jersey serving as one of the four officials for the white and red team scrimmages. Gempesaw would begin action by taking center-stage and served as the official who tossed the jump ball. The teams played two eight-minute halves and Gempesaw playfully gave Mullin a technical foul.

Hip-hop artist Mac Miller capped off the party by performing his hit-tracks while representing his love for SJU by wearing a white Chris Mullin St. John’s jersey.

As everything seemed to be going along perfectly, there was one incident where a fan illegally stormed onto the court in the middle of Miller’s performance and looked to take a selfie with the artist. He was then quickly tackled down to the floor by Karli Hausman, assistant athletic director of St. John’s marketing. The suspect then tried to escape by running towards the exit, but was taken down by multiple public safety officers and security before being handcuffed and arrested. Fortunately, the incident did not interfere with the performance and nobody else was hurt. The University has not released a statement regarding further information whether the suspect was a student and if so, whether he would be expelled from the university.

Students sang along and cheered for Mac after the 40-minute performance. Many players also walked onto the sections and celebrated as fans took pictures and mingled to end another successful Tip-Off.