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

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President Shanley’s history with the Big East

When Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., sat down with the Torch last fall after the announcement of his presidency, he expressed a love for basketball and his own personal connection to the Big East Conference. The former president of Providence College, he rooted exclusively for the Friars, one of the Red Storm’s Big East opponents. This season, however, he’s been cheering for the Red Storm.

“I’m not rooting against Providence,” he said back in November. “I’m rooting for St. John’s…  When I come back [to Providence] to visit, I want to come back here as a winner.”

“There is so much young talent on this team, and they have continued to develop as the season has progressed,” Shanley told the Torch in an email interview this week. “I am excited about the BIG EAST Tournament coming up because I think our team can win on any given night. I look forward to hopefully cheering the team on to many victories this March at Madison Square Garden.”

Shanley recounted his previous visits to Madison Square Garden, as he traveled to the venue every year for the Big East Tournament before coming to St. John’s. He said that the people who called to congratulate him on his new position with St. John’s said he had to ensure Providence played the Johnnies at the Garden.

“There’s nothing like basketball in Madison Square Garden,” he stated. “The fact that I never see anything about St. John’s in the New York Times makes me nuts.”

Shanley continued to say that St. John’s “is critical to the success of the Big East.” In this, he said that the University must be a leader in the Conference. With his new position as President, he said that he is excited to help create this leadership for the Red Storm. 

Shanley’s history with the Big East did not begin with St. John’s, nor Providence – he was born into the Big East. It was his father’s public relation’s firm, Duffy and Shanley, that was hired to come up with the conference’s name back in 1979 when it was originally founded. As a college student, Shanley tried to make money by working with his father in the early days of the Big East. During this time, he ran into then-Georgetown coach John Thompson, whom Shanley recalled as the “biggest person I’d ever met in my life.”

“The Shanley’s have been associated with the Big East since it started, and I’m passionate about the Big East,” Shanley said. “I’m so happy I’m at a Big East school again. [I’m] looking forward to becoming a Big Johnny … and go Red Storm!”

During his interview with the Torch, Shanley expressed immense praise for current Head Coach Mike Anderson and his coaching style, in particular his focus on defense. While at Providence, Shanley said even the college’s Men’s Basketball coach told him that he loved Anderson. 

Now, in his second season with the Red Storm, Anderson has led the team to a chance at securing a seed in the NCAA tournament. Like many other fans, Shanley sees the momentum of St. John’s as “really positive right now.”

Shanley said Anderson’s hire was the “best thing that St. John’s has done in a long time.” 

“That guy can coach,” he added. 

Outside of the action sports have on the court, Shanley pointed out the struggle that players may have with mental health, which has been a point of emphasis in the Big East for the last few years. Shanley sees the players and understands that they are “under extraordinary pressure,” and has encouraged the hiring of full-time social  workers for student athletes, for managing their lives both inside and outside of Carnesecca Arena. 

“You just [try] to create an environment where you are concerned about student athletes as a whole and not just their performance on the court [that] has helped us graduate a lot of student athletes,” Shanley said. “And that’s particularly true in Men’s Basketball.” 

True to his word for the love of basketball, Shanley has been following the Red Storm’s season thus far. 

“Although the end result of the last two games has been disappointing, the season as a whole has been very positive,” Shanley said. 

The next time the Men’s Basketball team faces an opponent on the court of Madison Square Garden will be for the Big East Tournament, which will be held March 10-13. The Big East has yet to announce the spectator policy for this tournament, but fans can still expect President Shanley to be rooting for the Red Storm, whether it be from the comfort of his own home or in the crowd of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”


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About the Contributor
Alicia Venter
Alicia Venter, Editor-in-Chief
Alicia is a senior Journalism major with a minor in English. She joined the Torch during her freshman year as Assistant News Editor and later became News Editor. In her last year, she is now serving as the Editor-in-Chief. She is excited to expand the Torch’s online presence through the Torch’s newsletter and other digital platforms. She is a native Kentuckian and loves painting, blaring music too loud and strong coffee! You can reach Alicia at [email protected].
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