You want the postseason?
You want St. John’s basektball in the postseason?
Well they’re there. But apparently only 520 peole knew that on Monday night.
Just when the SJU basketball program got some positive, uplifting news, the fans were there to put it down again.
The other day while browsing the popular St. John’s athletics fan site, JohnnyJungle.com, I came across a post in regard to women’s basketball getting a bid for the WNIT.
“The sad state of St. John’s basketball,” one poster wrote. “Who gives a [darn] about women’s basketball.”
Well that’s surprising.
I would think that in a season where the men’s basketball team failed to play in the postseason, one would be thrilled to see the women’s team bounce back with a bid to the WNIT – and a first-round bye, at that – after posting just eight wins last season. Evidently not.
Let’s not kid ourselves here. Men’s basketball is more popular than women’s. From the high-flying dunks to the television coverage to the NCAA Tournament, there is almost as much, and some believe more, to offer with men’s basketball than even professional sports.
But that doesn’t mean that women’s basketball has nothing to offer. In fact, schools such as UConn and Duke, amongst others, are known to pack the house when their women’s teams play.
“At schools like Duke they are sleeping out in tents before games [and] planning on attending games,” said president of JohnnyJungle.com Dave Krupinski, “whereas here if you ask [students] if they are going to the game they’ll respond, ‘What game?'”
So what’s with the low level of interest at St. John’s? Apparently it’s been an ongoing trend for years. During the Johnnies run to the Elite Eight in 1999 there was not much buzz around campus about the basketball team.
“When the men’s basketball team was in the Elite Eight, there wasn’t any visible excitement on campus,” said David Pierson, who was the Managing Editor on The Torch in 1999 and is currently working for the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t remember students walking around with their faces painted or any rallies, which is what I always imagined went on at big state schools in the south.”
In the late 1990s St. John’s was a commuter school, and according to Pierson most students watched the games from their homes or in local bars.
“It was just the reality of being at a commuter school then,” Pierson said. “You couldn’t sustain any energy because people went home in the evening.”
But now there’s an on-campus community that is still comprised of people from the metro area, people whose parents went to and rooted for St. John’s during its glory years.
And yet interest remains low.
“How many times are they going to offer a free St. John’s t-shirt and/or pizza for coming to a game,” Krupinski said. “There isn’t enough done by the school to embrace the students and make them want to be a part of everything, and it’s a shame because you have teams like the women’s basketball team who deserves the credit and support.”
Perhaps there’s something to that, but it’s hard to imagine a low interest level solely as a result of marketing which, I belive, is satisfactory.
Men’s basketball is the flagship program for the University, and it’s understandable that fans are upset with the team’s performance. But that doesn’t mean that the women’s squad should suffer the consequences.