It was the last time lone senior scholarship player Eugene Lawrence stepped onto the hardwood with his knee-high socks and white sneakers at Carnesecca Arena. Senior walk-ons, Otoja Abit and Liam Biesty were seen doing the usual- supporting the team from the sidelines with energy, shouts and handclaps.
The game ended with no points for any of the seniors, but Lawrence, who finished with six assists, said the 65-62 win over Seton Hall was the best win he experienced without posting any offensive statistics.
Lawrence, famously known around the basketball team for his white headband, saw teammate Anthony Mason, Jr. decked in the same headband as he played in the first half of the Seton Hall game.
“All for Geno and the seniors– I think that’s what had me off,” said Mason Jr., jokingly. “I snatched it off [in the second half] and I said ‘I’m not Geno, man!'”
Lawrence who has started 105 games and his teammates Abit and Biesty were thanked and honored during a pre-game ceremony. Then the players, with their dedicated team jerseys and families, paused to take a memorable photograph with athletic director Chris Monasch and St. John’s head coach Norm Roberts. “[My four years] went by pretty fast,” said Lawrence. “I’m just happy that I had a chance to play at St. John’s and it was a privilege.” One of Lawrence’s biggest accomplishments is being third in all-time assist leaders at the University with 500-plus handouts. He also finished among the top five in career steals and three-point field goals.
“I don’t think [Lawrence] has missed a practice… and never asked for a day off,” said Roberts. “He’s a very, very tough kid and he came from a great family– his mom and dad are awesome and they’ve done a great job raising him. He’s going to be successful in whatever he does…”
Abit and Biesty, praised for their hard work in practice, saw few minutes throughout their collegiate career but are well appreciated for the way they push the starters and reserves to play better.
“[The seniors] are all great kids and they’ve all worked extremely hard,” Roberts said. “[Lawrence] obviously being in the spotlight and those other guys behind the scenes – [Biesty and Abit] – you couldn’t ask for two better walk-ons. Those kids work hard everyday.”
The seniors’ hard work was a part of a different kind of St. John’s history than past seniors. Each are a member of Roberts’ first class of players, who knowingly entered a program on a rough and bumpy upturn, and chipped in to make a difference at St. John’s.
“I’m happy that my name is mentioned among some of the great point guards and great players that went here,” Lawrence said.