A perspective from the bench on the game of life

Senior Nights are about reflection.

They are about the hard work and dedication that have been put in during the course of a college career.

It’s a thank you for the points, rebounds and assists.

It’s a culmination of all the early morning practices, afternoon workouts and late-night road trips.

The 2003 version of Senior Night will be remembered for many reasons.

The box score will show how Marcus Hatten, in his last regular season game at the Garden, dropped 44 points on Rutgers, the fourth-highest total in SJU history and the second-most by a Big East player.

“We allowed one man to put on a show,” said Rutgers Head Coach Gary Waters. “He shot it like a pro.”

There was another St. John’s player who can be considered a professional.

His stat line from that night won’t tell you that – zero-for-four from the field, zero points, one rebound and one steal in four minutes.

The professionalism of Jon Scheiman is hidden to those with courtside seats or home watching on television.

Some have never seen him get off the bench, except to join the huddle during time-outs.

He’s not scouted by opponents worried that he’ll beat them with a three-pointer or a crisp pass.

The NBA isn’t knocking down his door, but the most prestigious universities, such as Princeton and NYU, are recruiting the biology major for graduate school.

Still, every day he goes about doing whatever he needs to make the Red Storm a better team and do whatever it takes to help them win.

“That’s the type of person I am,” Scheiman said. “I’m here to support my teammates and these guys have supported me throughout the years. They recognize how hard I work.”

Ask anyone who’s seen him take to the court in practice over the past four seasons and they can tell you how valuable he’s been to the Red Storm.

“Many a day we could not have practice if Jon didn’t come and put on his practice gear,” St. John’s Head Coach Mike Jarvis said. “And there’s many a day when we’ve got a full roster that Jon goes through the drills and doesn’t get in the scrimmage – but Jon is always there and always the same.”

On a Division I, Big East caliber program like St. John’s, walk-ons are extra bodies, the ones running the other team’s offense to help the starters prepare for the next game.

“Guarding me, that’s a heck of job in practice,” Hatten said, smiling at his classmate, recounting the daily battles between the two.

And for all the work and sacrifice, these past four years have given so much to Scheiman, except in the way of playing time.

He has appeared in 24 of a possible 124 games and in each game he has seen only a handful of minutes.

He has attempted only 12 shots in his career – not making any – but has scored seven points from the free-throw line. But as a member of the team, he is no different from the other seniors on the squad.

“Jon is as much as Marcus is what makes it special to coach, to teach,” Jarvis said, “because he basically stands for all the things that sport is supposed to be about. People sacrificing, playing a role, being positive and always being there for the coach, the coaching staff and his teammates.

“These Senior Nights are for the Jon Scheiman’s of the world.”

He remembers back to the first time he tried out, practicing alongside members of a team that was seconds from playing in the Final Four, a team that would go on to win the Big East Tournament in five months, a team that would go 25-8 with him right alongside.

“A lot of times, the best thing to do is just concentrate on yourself,” the six-foot-one guard said. “I had no control over who was on the team. All I knew was that the summer beforehand, I really worked hard to get in shape and condition and get ready for trying out.”

And the walk-on made the most of his first career start, just by being on the court for tip-off.

“It was surreal,” Scheiman said. “I was out at center court and I was telling Marcus, ‘so this is what it’s like, this what you guys do every night.'”

Teammates wanted desperately for him to score, fans waiting to erupt when the ball left his hand and found the net. Even referee Tim Higgins was rooting for Scheiman to succeed.

“He came over and said, ‘this is your night, just make sure you shoot the ball,'” the crowd favorite said.

Scheiman shot four times – all three-pointers – but there seemed to be a lid on the rim. Twice the ball was halfway down, only to agonizingly come out.

In the end, it didn’t matter. The points, the minutes – they’re all secondary to the team.

“I’m so fortunate to be on the team,” Scheiman said. “Just being there every day behind the scenes and being involved with the players, the coaches – really great people – I was just glad to be a part of it.

“Being a part of this team will be something I’ll always remember. They allowed me a chance to be a part of the team.”

And Scheiman allowed the team to be a part of his life.

Jason Della Rosa is a senior journalism major who is proud to be graduating alongside Jon Scheiman. Send comments to [email protected]