Tag Archives: Red Storm

St. John’s men’s soccer opens up Big East play with scoreless draw against Marquette

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of St. John's Athletics

St. John’s Red Storm goalie John Stagmiller made a career-high nine saves as his team played to a 0-0 tie against Marquette at Belson Stadium on Saturday, to open up Big East Conference play.

“Marquette has a lot of offensive weapons and they came in here well-rested so we knew it would be a typical Big East battle,” said Dr. Dave Masur, Red Storm head coach. “I thought our guys did well to meet that challenge and earn a result. We are still learning, but we are continuing to get better and tonight was a big step.”

The Golden Eagles put the pressure on Stagmiller early on as Kelmend Islami had a shot in the fifth minute, David Selvaggi blasted a shot in the ninth minute before C. Nortey collected the rebound and sent a shot attempt high. Alex McBride had his shot attempt blocked in the 11th minute before Stagmiller saved a follow-up shot from Selvaggi.

St. John’s was held without a shot until the 36th minute of the contest when Lucas Fagotti made a run toward the right edge of the 18-yard box and beat a defender before unleashing a shot that bounced off the goalpost.

The second half was much of the same, with Marquette registering first shot of the half, but Stagmiller made the save.

The Red Storm was able to get some pressure as Filippo Ricupati had a shot blocked in the 50th minute and Jean Leveille missed high in the 55th minute. Marquette goalie Luis Barraza made saves against Leveille in the 62nd minute and Luis Esteves in the 66th minute.

The back-and-forth play continued throughout regulation as neither goaltender would relinquish a goal.

In overtime, both teams had their opportunities but could not sneak a go-ahead goal past Stagmiller or Barraza, resulting in a 0-0 draw.


St. John’s men’s soccer loses in overtime to No. 19 Denver

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy St. John's Athletics

The St. John’s Red Storm took an early lead against the 19th-ranked Denver Pioneers on Saturday, but couldn’t hold on as they lost 2-1 in overtime at Belson Stadium.

The Red Storm wasted no time getting on the board as Filippo Ricupati put a header just inside the near post for his first career goal to give St. John’s a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute of the game.

Denver tried to quickly rebound, but Red Storm goaltender Jordan Stagmiller stood tall as the Pioneers had chances in the 11th and 15th minutes.

“I thought our guys put forth a gutsy effort against a very technical Denver squad that likes to play a high-tempo game,” said Dr. Dave Masur, Red Storm head coach. “This is a very young team we have here and they’ve played five games against tough competition. We had some great chances early, but we still need to be sharper and more consistent on both ends of the field.”

The Red Storm had several more chances in the first half but could not increase their lead.

In the 21st minute, Mike Prosuk fired a shot right at Denver’s goalkeeper Dan Jackson. In the 23rd minute, St. John’s earned a free kick that saw Ricupati escape his coverage and drill a header that was stopped by Jackson. The Red Storm added two more chances as Adrian Welch missed high in the 33rd minute and Prosuk missed wide in the 35th.

After halftime the Pioneers came out looking for an equalizer and found it when Cole Stevenson put one past Stagmiller in the 61st minute to tie the score 1-1.

St. John’s had a few late chances to notch the go-ahead goal. The Red Storm had a free kick chance in the 88th minute. Marcus Lindqvist’s shot was blocked by Denver’s defensive wall. In the 90th minute, St. John’s had one final look as Devin Morgan sent a header wide and the game went to overtime.

The Pioneers would net the game-winner in the 97th minute when Chandler Crosswait launched a shot and got a deflection past Stagmiller to give Denver the win.

St. John’s returns to action Tuesday, Sept. 15, with a 7:30 p.m. game against Siena at Belson Stadium.


St. John’s men’s soccer falls 2-0 against Hofstra

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy St. John's Athletics

The St. John’s Red Storm put forth a valiant effort against the undefeated Hofstra Pride, but came up short, falling 2-0 at Belson Stadium last weekend.

The Red Storm had the advantage in total shots (10-9), shots on goal (5-4) and corner kicks (6-1), but failed to score.

“Once again, I thought we played a good first half,” head coach of the Red Storm Dr. Dave Masur said. “Our guys competed until the end against a strong and physical Hofstra squad, but we had a couple of breakdowns that cost us. On the offensive side of the ball, we just weren’t able to consistently make that one final pass to finish the transition into the offensive third.”

After St. John’s took the first four shots of the game, Hofstra took the lead in the 28th minute when Joseph Holland passed the ball from midfield to Mani Walcott who was just outside the box. Walcott passed to Harri Hawkins who was waiting inside the box, and fired a shot passed the Red Storm keeper, Jordan Stagmiller, to give the Pride a 1-0 lead.

Hofstra added to its lead as Eshun Addy beat Stagmiller in the 47th minute to make it a 2-0 game in the 47th minute.

The Red Storm will look to get into the win column against Denver on Sept. 12 at Belson Stadium at 7:30 p.m.


Red Storm men’s soccer draws with Manhattan Jaspers in exhibition match

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy St. John's Athletics

The St. John’s Red Storm began its exhibition schedule with a 1-1 draw against the Manhattan Jaspers at Belson Stadium on Aug. 15. A total of 20 Red Storm players saw action in the contest, including eight newcomers.

The game, which was played in three 30-minute periods, saw the Red Storm goalkeepers Andrew Withers, Michael Bernardi and Jordan Stagmiller each play one 30-minute period with Stagmiller recording the lone Red Storm save.

“It was good for us to open our exhibition season with a tough and physical match against a quality Manhattan squad,” said Dr. Dave Masur, head coach for the Red Storm soccer team. “We used a lot of players tonight because we have a number of newcomers and it was important for them to get their feet wet.”

Manhattan had only one shot in the first period, but made it count and grabbed an early 1-0 lead. A 40-yard strike from just inside the right sideline caught goaltender Withers off his line and came down just below the crossbar to put the Jaspers on the board.

St. John’s, meanwhile, tallied three corner kicks in the first period and registered a pair of shots, but none found the back of the net.

The Red Storm added three more shots in the second period as well as two corner kicks, but could not level the score as the Jaspers maintained their 1-0 advantage.

The Jaspers held their lead until Prosuk found the back of the net nearly midway through the third period. Marcus Lindqvist started the play with a cross into the box from the left sideline. Prosuk received the ball at the near post and buried a close-range goal to tie the game at 1-1.

“I thought our guys did a good job moving the ball and creating some opportunities,” Masur said.

Neither team could muster a tie-breaking goal before the final whistle.

St. John’s returns to action and concludes exhibition play on Aug. 22 with a 1 p.m. road game at Penn State.


St. John’s men’s baseball season ends in regional round

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy St. John's Athletics

The St. John’s Red Storm saw their season come to an end on Sunday when they lost to the Arkansas Razorbacks, 4-3, in the finals of the Stillwater Regional bracket of the NCAA Tournament at Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The Red Storm finish the season with an overall record of 41-16 as the Stillwater Regional finalists, Big East Tournament champions and Big East regular season champions.

The game was a close contest throughout and Arkansas managed to score a run in the ninth inning to seal the victory and knock St. John’s out of the tournament.

It was a scoreless game heading into the fifth inning, when the Razorbacks grabbed the lead. They led off the inning with back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third base. Arkansas’ catcher, Tucker Pennell, hit a sacrifice fly, bringing in one run, and left fielder, Joseph Serrano added an RBI single to give the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead.

Arkansas increased their lead to 3-0 in the top of the sixth when Tyler Spoon launched a solo home run off Red Storm relief pitcher Shawn Heide.

St. John’s managed to get on the scoreboard with a two-run sixth inning. Center fielder Alex Caruso worked a leadoff walk and second baseman, Robert Wayman, reached base on a throwing error, but the ball soared into the dugout and Caruso was awarded home, while Wayman was given second. Michael Donadio then smacked an RBI single to right field, cutting the Razorbacks’ lead to 3-2.

The Red Storm led off the seventh inning with a single from Jarred Mederos. He quickly stole second base and scored on an RBI single by Robbie Knighties to tie the game at three runs apiece.

In the top of the ninth, Arkansas had runners on first and second before a sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Serrano lined a one-out RBI single into left to give the Razorbacks a 4-3 lead.

Arkansas’ closer, Zach Johnson, struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth for the save and the win.

Wayman, Knightes and first baseman Matt Harris were each named to the Stillwater Regional All-Tournament Team at their respective positions after St. John’s was eliminated from tournament play.


St. John’s clinches Big East regular season title

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy St. John's Athletics

The St. John’s Red Storm clinched its conference-record eighth Big East regular season championship Saturday with a 5-0 win over the Xavier Musketeers at Jack Kaiser Stadium.

The Red Storm won the game behind a dominant pitching performance by Ryan McCormick, who tossed his first career complete game shutout and recorded a career-high nine strikeouts in the contest.

St. John’s got on the board early by sending eight men to the plate in the bottom of the first inning and took a 2-0 lead. Robert Wayman began the rally with a one-out single. Michael Donadio followed with another single and Zach Lauricella got on base on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Jarred Mederos smacked a two-run single into center, giving his team the early lead.

The Red Storm added to its lead in the bottom of the third with a string of singles. Tyler Sanchez started things with a single up the middle. Wayman added another single through the left side and Lauricella singled to left, driving in Sanchez to make it a 3-0 ballgame.

Xavier tried to rally back in the top of the fourth, getting the first two batters on base. A single by David Morton led off the inning and Nate Soria followed with a walk, but McCormick retired the next three batters to get out of the jam.

St. John’s padded its lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Donadio drilled a leadoff double into left field, Matt Harris followed with an RBI triple, giving the Red Storm a 4-0, and Mederos lifted a sacrifice fly to left, bringing the lead to 5-0.

McCormick finished the game by retiring the last seven batters he faced.

The Red Storm completed the three-game sweep of the Musketeers on Sunday by posting an 8-6 win. They continue the season with a game against St. Peter’s on Tuesday, before ending their 2015 campaign with a three-game set against Southern Illinois.


St. John’s baseball wins fourth straight game

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of St. John's Athletics

After sweeping a weekend road series in Indiana against Big East Conference foe Butler, St. John’s Red Storm traveled to Brooklyn to defeat the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds, 6-3.

The scoring opened up in the third inning when the Red Storm’s Michael Donadio tripled to center field with one out in the inning. Zach Lauricella followed that with an RBI groundout to put St. John’s up 1-0.

The Blackbirds answered right back, scoring three runs in the bottom of the third. St. John’s starter, Joey Christopher, gave up a two-out walk and was lifted from the game. Alex Katz came in for relief, but promptly walked the next two batters to load the bases.

LIU Brooklyn wasted little time making St. John’s pay, as first baseman Mark Hernandez doubled to center, driving in three runs, giving them a 3-1 lead.

St. John’s began chipping away at the Blackbirds’ lead in the fourth inning when second baseman Ty Blankmeyer reached on an error to score Troy Dixon, cutting LIU Brooklyn’s lead to 3-2.

In the following frame, St. John’s tied the game at 3 when Jarred Mederos hit an RBI double into right field.

The Red Storm retook the lead in the seventh inning when Donadio lined a hard RBI single up the middle, scoring Alex Caruso who reached base on an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch.

With the score 4-3, St. John’s added two more runs in the top of the ninth to increase their lead to 6-3.

This was the Red Storm’s fourth consecutive victory, bringing them to a 16-10 overall record.

St. John’s next game is April 8, as they host Columbia at 3:30 p.m.


St. John’s women’s basketball team playing in Europe

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Lady Johnnies are going international.

Following in the footsteps of the St. John’s men’s basketball team last summer, the women’s basketball team will travel through Italy and Spain for pre-season games in the program’s first experience traveling abroad.

The Red Storm will play four games during the journey from Aug. 16 through Aug. 27, against the Dutch National Team, Adriatic Sea Sirens, Distrito Olimpico Madrid and CB Barcelona Saint Feliuenc. Mixed into the game schedule are sightseeing and service trips to famous spots such as the Coliseum and the Pantheon.

“This opportunity is more about the bigger picture for our players,” head coach Joe Tartamella said. “We’ll have a chance to visit our campus in Rome and be able to do some community service projects.”

The European contests will be the first time the Johnnies play against other teams since having lost their senior leaders, guards Eugeneia McPherson and Briana Brown.

“We’ve had about 10 practices and they’ve probably practiced a lot more together, so it will be a good test for us,” Tartarmella said.

Last season, the Johnnies finished with an overall record of 23-11 and defeated the University of Southern California in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. But the team lost to the University of Tennessee, 67-51, in the second round of the national tournament.

This year the team has added four freshmen, who are expected to see minutes from the pre-season journey. Team members admit that they are still in need of fine-tuning before the season starts and they hope the trip will do just that.

“We’re still trying to put the pieces together, but I think it gives us a better scale overall of where we are going to be in October,” junior guard Danaejah Grant said. “It gives us a jump-start on the other teams that don’t have this same opportunity. I think ultimately it puts us ahead of everyone else.”




Victory marks fourth consecutive win for St. John’s men’s soccer

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John’s Athletic Communications

In the 19th minute St. John’s men’s soccer forward Sean Sepe clutched his head and looked to the sky as if the world was coming to an end.

Sepe just missed an easy goal directly in front the frame. With no defenders around, it was just him and the West Virginia University goalkeeper, Lee Johnston. All he had to do was kick the ball pass Johnston on the right side and the Johnnies would have taken the lead.

“I thought I had it, I was so close,” Sepe said. “It was very disappointing.”

Johnston defended Sepe well and deflected the ball just enough for it to carry wide. But a few plays later in the 24th minute Sepe found himself in the same position after teammate Jimmy Mulligan connected a pass inside the box. Sepe, who scored the winning goal in the Red Storm’s last game, slipped through three defenders and this time kicked the ball just pass Johnston for the score.

“The goalie didn’t rotate back to his position and I put it in there,” Sepe said. “I was mad at myself that I didn’t score the first one. I was like ‘I’m definitely getting one this game.’”
And one would be all the No. 12 ranked Red Storm needed as Sepe’s goal gave the Johnnies a 1-0 win over the Mountaineers on September 15. The victory is the Johnnies’ fourth consecutive win, moving the season record to 5-1-0.

Although the final score doesn’t show it, it wasn’t a quiet match between these former conference rivals. Both teams had ample chances to net goals.

West Virginia led St. John’s in shots on goal, 12-11, while the Red Storm led in corner kicks, 10-5. But defense was the deciding factor as the Johnnies’ goalkeeper Rafael Diaz came up with five saves to record St. John’s third straight shutout.

“We know that if we get a shutout that we are going to win, so it really motivates us,” Diaz said about the team’s defense.

The victory also ends the Johnnies’ four-game homestand and the team will start a three-game road trip, beginning with new conference rival Creighton University on September 21.
St. John’s is undefeated (5-0) this year at home, but the team’s only loss came on a road game against the University of Virginia. The Red Storm is looking forward to the road trip to prove they can compete everywhere.

“The last time we went to Virginia we didn’t play well at all,” Sepe said. “We got played off the field. So I guess it’s personal for everyone.”



Mulligan’s golden goal puts No. 23 Red Storm pass No. 5 Akron

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John's Athletic Communications

With a penalty kick lined up, the game rested on St. John’s forward Jimmy Mulligan’s foot.

Pressure poured in as the intense match, in which both teams just scored one goal apiece in 90 minutes of regulation and more than 15 minutes in overtime and had seven yellow cards handed out, came down to just one kick.

A little nervous, Mulligan was brimming with confidence, having much experience with this situation in practice. But what threw him off was the crowd’s anxiety. Approximately 1,533 Red Storm fans came to a silence the senior forward set-up for the kick.

“When they went quiet I got even more nervous,” he said.

Mulligan approached slowly, looked up quickly to see which way the goalie was leaning and then blasted the ball in the opposite direction for the golden goal and the 2-1 victory over No. 5 University of Akron on Friday night. Following the score the Johnny faithful started to roar again.

With the victory the No. 23 Red Storm is now 2-1 for the season and earned their first win against a ranked-team. “I was pretty confident, I was thinking I was going to bury it and get this win for the team,” Mulligan said about the kick.

For the first 70 minutes both sides struggled for control. In the first half Akron outshot the Johnnies 5-1, but the Red Storm took the lead in corner kicks, 2-0.

It didn’t look like either would score, until Eric Stevenson powered a goal from about 20 yards out in the 71st minute for the Zips, assisted by Ismail Seremba.

The goal came as a sudden shock, but the Johnnies responded quickly. About three minutes later, Red Storm sophomore Josh Godec beat a defender and scored from about five yards of the goal after a cross pass from teammate Jelani Williams.

“I knew I just had to get across that man, I saw the ball coming in and I was like I’m going to get there,” Godec said. “I’m just lucky it went in.”

It was a significant moment for Godec, who red shirted his first year and didn’t play a game last year, because it was his first college goal.

“It’s amazing to see the hard work finally paying off,” he said.

The Johnnies will host Pennsylvania State University in their next match on Sunday.




St. John’s edges out NJIT in 2013 men’s soccer season opener

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of St. John’s Athletic Communications

Going into his 23rd season as St. John’s men’s soccer head coach, Dr. Dave Masur has seen it all.

As one of Division 1 most winningest active coaches at 367-123-76 (.716), Masur has raised the St. John’s program into a national contender, but he knows every year the slates are wiped clean.

“What’s that?” Masur said, when asked about his 23 season. “I redo every season like it’s my first.”

For this reason Masur coached the no. 19 ranked St. John’s to aggressively attack New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), a team that until last season hadn’t won more than five games since joining Division 1 in 2004, in the Johnnies’ season and home opener on August 30. The Red Storm dominated possession and stifled the Highlanders, until redshirt senior Jimmy Mulligan blasted the winner in the 77th minute for the Red Storm’s 2-1 victory. Now the Johnnies’ slate reads 1-0-0.

“This was a hard-fought victory against a very organized NJIT squad,” Masur said.

From the start of the first half the Johnnies were on attack mode and pressured the highlanders, beating them to a 20-7 shot on goal difference in the game. Despite being the aggressor, the Red Storm allowed the Highlanders to tie the game 1-1 going into the final 30 minutes.

But after a throw in from Adrian L’Esperance, redshirt junior Daniel Herrera dished a pass through a few defenders to find an open Mulligan, who rocketed a strike from just beyond the box that curled over goalkeeper Alexander Czempik and found the back of the net with exactly 13 minutes remaining.

“Once I saw the ball coming across, Danny did a nice flick through the defenders and I was like that’s the sweet spot for anybody looking at the goal,” Mulligan said.

Before Mulligan’s goal the Highlanders found a way to shake the Red Storm’s pressure.

In the 61st minute, trailing the Johnnies 1-0, NJIT’s Phillipp Hannemann connected a long pass to captain Franco Gamero, who outpaced two trailing defenders and slipped the ball passed Red Storm goalie Rafael Diaz, exactly has his coach said to do.

“In the second half I said ‘we just got to do a better job of trying to connect the passes and switch the ball and it’ll come’ and obviously it did and it opened up the game for us so that helped,” said NJIT head coach Didier Orellana, a resident of Forest Hills.

Sophomore Sean Sepe scored the first goal for the Johnnies’, which was his first career college goal, in the 33rd minute after receiving a pass from Jamie Thomas. Sepe said he thought only about shooting when he received the ball, which is understandable since it’s a new season and the Johnnies are hungry for wins.

“High pressure is the main point in our game and if we put them under pressure and they make a mistake we will capitalize,” Sepe said.

St. John’s will travel to play no. 20 Virginia next on September 2.






St. John’s women’s basketball team falls short in NCAA tournament

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of St. John's Athletic Communications


With the odds were against the St. John’s women’s basketball team this season, they were normally able to overcome.

The season began under a rookie head coach, had a slow start and lost a starter from an early injury, but the Red Storm battled its way into the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year.

Looking once again to overcome a tough challenge, the 10th seed Red Storm eliminated a 13-point deficit to force overtime against seventh seed University of Dayton with just more than five minutes left in regulation.

But the Red Storm’s season came to an end as the Flyers, lead by sophomore Andrea Hoover’s 24 points and seven rebounds, won in double overtime, 96-90, on March 24, in front of 2,717 fans.

This was the team’s fourth consecutive NCAA elimination, but the first-ever women’s basketball tournament hosted at Carnesecca Arena.

“We could have gave up,” said head coach Joe Tartamella. “I thought our players made great plays, I thought they made important plays to get us back in the game and you know we came up short. That’s what it comes down to.”

In the second overtime the Red Storm ran out of offensive. Dayton’s (28-2) Kelley Austria set the pace for the Flyers by scoring seven points in the final overtime.

St. John’s senior Shenneika Smith, who had 18 points and five rebounds in 50 minutes, didn’t score in the final five. And senior Nadirah McKenith, who narrowly missed a triple-double with 22 points, ten assists and nine rebounds, played 44 minutes, but fouled out in the first overtime.

“We play in a lot, a lot of minutes, and that’s just who we are, there’s no excuse,” Tartamella said. “At that point in the game though and at this point in the season, and for what’s on the line, you can’t be tired.”

The Red Storm (18-13) struggled to keep pace with the Flyers until the final minutes by tightening on defense and chipping away at the Flyer’s double-digit lead.

Down two points with 5.7 seconds left in regulation, McKenith took charge. She dribbled the length of the court and scored a layup around two Dayton defenders at the buzzer to tie the game, 75-75, and force overtime.

The senior guard thought she could see the outcome of the game after that play.

“We knew once we were going in overtime we thought we could beat them, we had to make a push,” McKenith said. “We just went out there and fought. We thought we had the momentum, but we didn’t.”

The game marks the end of McKenith and Smith’s college careers and although the pair has been defeated in four consecutive NCAA appearances, this loss left an even bitter taste.

“We’ll always remember this one,” Smith said. “This one probably hurt more than freshman year, because it’s our last one. At least when we lost when we were freshman we had a couple more years to try and get back.”

But there was a bright spot in freshman guard Ashley Perez, who checked in from the second half, and hit some big shots to help the Johnnies almost complete the upset.

Down by six with 1:05 remaining, McKenith found an open Perez, who hit a three pointer to close the gap to just one possession.  Perez finished with 17 points in 21 minutes, paving the way for the future of the Red Storm.

“It was exciting,” Perez said. “Coach called it yesterday in practice. He said ‘I might hit some big shots today.’ So it was just nice knowing that everyone believed in me.”



St. John’s basketball focuses on NCAA Tournament

| tcullen@queenscourier.com


It was mid-October when guard D’Angelo Harrison sat in the corner of the media workroom at Carnessecca Arena.

The Red Storm had just ceremoniously kicked off its forthcoming season and was less than a month away from its first game, a November 13 matchup against Detroit.

It was the only thing Harrison said he and his teammates were focused on. Not the next five games, or who would be the toughest opponent of the season.

But as the season winds down, the Johnnies are still in the struggle to the NCAA Tournament and have kept that laser focus on each game.

With three games left in the regular season — against Providence, Notre Dame and Marquette — the team faces a tough climb toward the tournament.

“The next game is always important because the past games are in the past, but it’s looking forward: all of our focus is on this Pitt game,” said forward Amir Garrett on the eve of the February 24 matchup against Pitt, which the team ended up losing, 63-47.

Garrett said he didn’t even know his team’s record until the pregame meeting before the team faced off against the University of South Florida about two weeks ago. If he, or any of his teammates, focused on anything outside of that game, they’d lose the finesse that’s helped them to a 16-11 record.

“To be honest I didn’t know what our record was,” said Garrett, who averages about 6 points a game. “We’re just looking forward to playing our next game, and we’re not worried about that. We’re just looking to get wins.”

The sentiments were echoed by teammate Chris Obekpa: “We’re taking it game at a time. Let the future take care of itself – win every game as it comes.”

The fan base has been a supporting component in the Red Storm’s continued push to make the Big Dance, said head coach Steve Lavin. The revived support, he said, continued to grow as the program succeeded in recruiting and retaining a winning record.

“If we’re doing those things, I think the fans come and it’s nice when we have that turn out at Carnesecca or at the Garden,” he said. “Because clearly it’s an advantage to have a good home court where the fans are energized and are pulling for our players because that fuels the momentum of the team that’s moving in the right direction.”



Johnnies take season opener

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Celebrating head coach Steve Lavin’s return to the sideline, St. John’s opened the season with a block party.

In his collegiate debut, freshman Chris Obekpa broke the school record with eight blocks, leading the Johnnies to a 77-74 win in their season opener against Detroit on Tuesday, November 13.

“I just kept playing like the heat was on. I thought I played OK. It could have been better,” said Obeka of his performance. “I want to have 10 blocks next game.”

The Red Storm swatted 12 Detroit shots, falling one short of the team record set in 1982.

Expectations remain low for the Johnnies who did not give a minute to an upperclassmen in the opener and gave three freshmen significant playing time. The team finished 13-19 last year.

“There’s going to be stretches where you play brilliantly because you recruited well, but there’s also going to be stretches because of our youth where we do some things that drive a coach crazy, leave you pulling out your hair,” said Lavin, who returned to the bench after coaching just four games last season because of prostate cancer surgery, calling his team’s play “uneven.”

Big East coaches chose the youthful Johnnies to finish 10th in a preseason conference poll.

“We have guys who haven’t played in a game like this and to have them step up and make plays was amazing,” said sophomore D’Angelo Harrison.

Harrison paced St. John’s in points with 22 off the bench. The sophomore, who was named to the preseason All-Big East second team, was benched in the second preseason game after receiving limited minutes in the first for what Lavin called a lack of leadership qualities.

The 2 p.m. game was part of ESPN’s 24-hour college basketball opening day marathon.

The Johnnies now head to South Carolina for the DirecTV Charleston Classic beginning on November 15. The team returns home for a November 21 match up with Holy Cross.

St. John’s opens season with Tip-Off event

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

A St. John’s athletic communications staffer entered the media room of Carnesecca Arena to face a gaggle of reporters following the men’s basketball team’s October 12 Tip-Off.

He asked the pool which of the “veterans” the reporters would like to speak with. Instinctively, they called out “D’Angelo [Harrison]” and “Amir [Garrett]” and then everyone seemed to look at each other. One reporter asked the staffer if the two were veterans yet.

But in fact Harrison and Garrett, along with Phil Greene, Sir’Dominic Pointer and God’sgift Achiuwa, were tenured players on a team comprised mainly of underclassmen.

Just more than an hour earlier they and the women’s basketball team stormed the court at Carnesecca before hundreds of fans to kickoff the season, which starts for the men’s team on November 13 against Detroit.

For the men’s team, fans first got an introduction mainly of the new recruits, the ESPN No. 8 recruiting class this year, who appeared to be ready to go.

But then, the vets came out and their role was solidified by their teammates. The entire team was on the court, just one man down. He finally appeared, silhouetted behind a screen, adorned with an aisle of cheerleaders.

His teammates formed an arch and started moving faster and faster toward the aisle as Harrison made his way around the screen, entrenched by amped teammates jumping around him as if he hit a walk-off home run to win the World Series.

Harrison, Greene, Pointer and Achiuwa have just a full year of Division I basketball under their belt; Garrett has a half season after being deemed academically ineligible until last January.

Now they have fit into a role that requires them to lead after playing on the youngest roster in the program’s history.

Though he seemed to command his squad during the tipoff’s scrimmages, Harrison said there isn’t a single leader on the team. Rather, each of the five returning veterans has played a different role in mentoring the players, most just a single year younger.

“We’ve got to guide the guys, show them the way basically because we’ve been here, we’ve been through it all,” he said. “More of the guards will come to me and Phil, some of the wing guys will go to Amir and Dom and the big guys will go to Gift. It works out perfectly because we have a leader in every spot.”

Of his “veterans,” head coach Steve Lavin said they would merge well with his new players to form a core that would keep fans and the college basketball world interested.

Harrison improved over the summer in all aspects of the game, Lavin said, adding to his breakout season last year.

“He’s made dramatic improvement across the board as a leader, in playmaking and decision making on the floor and just representing very well,” Lavin said.

The five returning players are now playing a leadership role that was hardly available last year, Garrett said. By each returning player becoming a mentor, the newcomers’ transition to the top level of college ball will be easier and more productive.

“The young guys look up to us being role models,” he said. “We really didn’t have anybody like that last year except Gift and Malik Stith. Now that they have a core to look up to … they have five people that they could look up to and follow, instead of us: last year we only had two. We can show them the way.”