More than 1,200 St. John’s basketball fans flocked to the practice court at Taffner Field House Thursday for the second-annual Red Storm Tip-Off, the pep rally officially kick-starting the Red Storm basketball season at the Queens campus.
In addition to a barbeque sponsored by Red Zone, prizes and performances from the cheerleaders, dance team, and pep band, the fans were formally introduced to the newest members of the St. John’s basketball programs.
The players then showed off their talents in an intra-squad scrimmage, one highlighted by high-flying dunks by members of the men’s basketball team, and head coaches Norm Roberts and Kim Barnes Arico defeated a pair of Red Storm fans in a three-point shooting contest during halftime.
“It’s good for our guys,” men’s basketball head coach Norm Roberts said. “We had five days of hard practice, and it’s a good chance to unwind and have some fun.”
Here are some highlights from the event: 3-on-3 FinalsRoberts; Billy Singleton, director of men’s basketball operation; and Megan Duffy, women’s basketball assistant coach, took on the winners of a 3-on-3 student competition, one that included student managers and former walk-on players.
With time winding down in the game, Roberts drove to the hoop and passed up on a potential game-winning shot, kicking the ball out to a teammate as the closing buzzer sounded.
“It was a totally unselfish move on my part at that point,” Roberts said. “Plus, my body would not have let me get that shot up.”
Roberts shot 1-for-2 from the field and had two turnovers in the loss.
As the players were introduced, many decided to have some fun. Men’s basketball rookie guard Dwight Hardy and women’s basketball junior point guard Sky Lindsay greeted the crowd by snapping their fingers and dancing.
Sidelined forward Anthony Mason Jr. and women’s forward Centhya Hart posed for photographs during their introductions before joining their teammates, and forward Sean Evans and 2008 Big East Rookie of the Year Da’Shena Stevens folded their arms in bubbly defiance of their on-court accomplishments.
“I’m having fun,” Mason Jr. said. “I take pride in the fans coming out to introduce the team. I’m focusing on getting back to playing basketball.
The women’s basketball team shared a surprise with the crowd, performing a rendition of “The Cha Cha Slide” that many of the fans – and even Evans and men’s point guard Malik Boothe – participated in. One face conspicuously absent, however, was men’s forward Justin Burrell.
“I had to get my back stretched,” Burrell said. “I liked it. I liked the Beyonce dance they did last year though, too.”
Intrasquad ScrimmageFollowing the introductions, the teams split into two teams to compete in an intrasquad scrimmage. What began as a friendly exhibition between the men’s and women’s teams became a showcase of the men’s team’s dunking creativity and the women’s team’s ability to get the ball into the post and shoot three-pointers.
“It’s a lot of fun horsing around, throwing passes around and dunking not getting in trouble,” Burrell said.
He also revealed the secrets to the team’s dunking inspiration.
“Vintage NBA,” he said. “Vince Carter, [Shawn] Kemp, Tracy McGrady. Those guys.”