Tag Archives: St Johns

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 Red Storm men’s soccer plays Quinnipiac to a 1-1 tie

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy St. John's Athletics

St. John’s Red Storm fell behind early to the Quinnipiac Bobcats, but freshman Mike Prosuk netted his first career goal to help the Red Storm pull even and play to a 1-1 draw in Tuesday’s game at Belson Stadium.

The Bobcats came out strong, controlling the pace from the opening whistle. St. John’s was held without a shot for the first 21 minutes, until Dela Agbotse missed high with a shot from outside the 18-yard box.

Quinnipiac broke through in the 24th minute when Justin Kody gave the Bobcats a 1-0 lead with a header that beat Red Storm goaltender Jordan Stagmiller.

“We had a great practice leading up to the game and we were well-prepared, but we got off to a slow start and Quinnipiac took advantage,” said Dr. Dave Masur, head coach for the Red Storm. “A lot of guys saw action and we needed each and every one of those contributions tonight. [Mike] Prosuk has been working hard for us up top and it was nice to see him get rewarded with his first goal.”

The Red Storm had a chance to tie the game on a corner kick before halftime, but failed to convert.

St. John’s controlled the early portion of the second half, desperately searching for the equalizing goal. The Red Storm found the back of the net in the 52nd minute.

A deep ball toward the box led to a footrace between Prosuk, Henry and a Bobcat defender. The defender was called off by Henry, but Prosuk chased down a beep ball just inside the box and took a shot off that defected off the crossbar. The rebound came right back to him, and Prosuk scored on the rebound with a shot inside the right post to tie the score at 1-1.

Neither team could find the go-ahead goal in the final portion of the second half, or in either overtime sessions.

St. John’s continues its eight-game homestand and opens BIG EAST action on Sept. 26 with a 7 p.m. game against Marquette (BEDN).


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.


Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Friday: Increasing clouds, with a high near 47. Light and variable wind becoming east 6 to 11 mph in the morning. Friday night: A slight chance of rain or drizzle after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 41. East wind 9 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

EVENT of the DAY: Shirley Valentine at Queens Theatre

The Tony and Olivier Award-winning play, written by Willy Russell, is about a middle-aged housewife who finds herself unhappy and wondering what happened to all the joy in her life. But when she’s offered the chance to go on the vacation-of-a-lifetime, Shirley is introduced to the adventure, hope and, ultimately, love she had been missing. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Citizens group demands ‘overdue’ stormproof measures to prevent future devastation of Rockaways beaches

Just hours after Superstorm Sandy devastated Rockaway Beach, someone angrily spray-painted a message on the wall of a battered handball court: “John Cori warned you.” Cori, who grew up down the street on Beach 92nd St., has spent the past few years advocating for beach replenishment, new jetties and other reforms to protect the dangerously eroded shoreline. Read more: Daily News

NY1 Exclusive: Red Cross Worker Charged With Alleged Sexual Abuse Of Woman Who Lost Her Home To Sandy

A Red Cross worker is charged with sexually assaulting a woman who turned to him for help after Hurricane Sandy destroyed her Queens home. NY1’s Dean Meminger filed the following report. Evergreen Washington says a Red Cross worker should be stripped of his red and white uniform and put in a prison jumpsuit. Read more: NY1

Romney lunches with Obama at White House

Bitter campaign foes just weeks ago, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney met for lunch at the White House on Thursday, sitting down with an eye on overlapping interests rather than the sharp differences that defined their presidential contest. Read more: NY Post

Rockaway Residents Frustrated With Crowded Buses, Longer Travel Times

Rockaway residents say they’re fed up having to wait an extra 30 minutes or more each morning for a bus to work. “I don’t get paid if I’m not there,” said one commuter. “It’s crazy.” In some cases, buses are so packed, they have to bypass stops. Read more: NY1

St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang expressed “suicidal ideations” a month before she killed herself

Ex-St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang talked of committing suicide little more than a month before she hanged herself during her criminal trial, according to court papers. A female friend of Chang’s asked to have her name removed from the bail bond because of the defendant’s increasingly bizarre behavior, defense lawyer Joel Cohen told a judge at an emergency hearing held on Oct. 1. Read more: Daily News

Queens homeowner can’t get in touch with insurance company

Dark and damp, the smell of seawater left from Sandy is a reminder for homeowner Marcy Miller Bolden of the water which flooded her basement during the hurricane. “My basement is completely destroyed,” Miller Bolden said. “The seawater corroded my boiler.” Now Miller Bolden is living without heat and expenses she can’t afford. Read more: NY1

MLS seeks to build 25,000-seat soccer stadium in Queens

Major League Soccer is taking its plan to build a 25,000-seat home for a new team in New York City to the politicians in Queens who will decide the project’s fate. The league will present its plan for a stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park to Borough President Helen Marshall, Queens city council members and community leaders on Dec. 3, Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Marshall, said today in an e-mail. Read more: NJ.com

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.

Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Today’s Forecast

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. Breezy, with a northwest wind 17 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 37. Northwest wind 11 to 16 mph.

Event of the Day: Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave

Devil Science Theater 3000 is an interactive event where the audience plays drinking games and makes fun of terrible movies while being egged on by professional comedians in the crowd. Find our more or view more events

Ex-St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang rejected sweet plea deal before suicide

In the end, disgraced St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang chose death over a life of dishonor — even at one point rejecting a sweet plea deal of two to six years in a so-called Club Fed prison, the Daily News has learned. Read more: Daily News

Gov. Cuomo fires Emergency Management chief over Sandy tree removal: sources

Office of Emergency Management boss Steven Kuhr was fired after allegedly sending workers to clear a tree in his Long Island driveway as other victims of the storm suffered, sources said yesterday. Read more: NY Post

Nor’easter brings snow, surges to storm-shocked city

A nor’easter brought heavy wind gusts and a snow Wednesday to a city trying to recover from last week’s superstorm, and coastal communities in the five boroughs were forced to endure another round of storm surges. Read more: NY1

Councilman James Sanders rips LIPA over Rockaway power outage

As tensions mount on a powerless Rockaway peninsula, the barbs being tossed at the Long Island Power Authority are becoming harsher with each passing day. City Councilman and soon-to-be state Sen. James Sanders Jr. blasted the utility on Wednesday and its top executive Michael Hervey after Sanders was told many of LIPA’s customers in Queens could be without power for up to three more weeks. Read more: Daily News

New York AG goes after post-Sandy price gougers

The state attorney general yesterday slapped a subpoena on Craigslist, demanding that the popular Web site identify sellers who jacked up prices on post-Sandy gas, generators and other supplies, The Post has learned. Read more: NY Post

Ex-con who shot Nassau County cop and motorist dead should be thrown in prison for the rest of his life: prosecutors

The Queens ex-con who gunned down a Nassau County cop and a motorist near Belmont Park to avoid returning to prison should spend the rest of his life behind bars, prosecutors said Wednesday as the alleged triggerman was indicated for murder, robbery and weapons possession. Read more: Daily News

Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Thursday: A slight chance of drizzle. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 68. East wind 6 to 8 mph. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 59. East wind 3 to 6 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Arthur Hammer Memorial Exhibit Opening Reception

Marvel at a large collection of paintings of people, places and things left behind by Arthur Hammer. In about 1990, he opened the Arthur Hammer Fine Arts Gallery on West 25th Street in Manhattan. His gallery focused on the Modernist painters of the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s, which ultimately had a profound effect on the direction of his own work. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Accused cop killer released from Jamaica Hospital

Darrell Fuller, the suspect wanted in connection with killing a veteran Nassau County police officer and a civilian yesterday, was transferred from Jamaica Hospital to Nassau County for booking this afternoon. Under guard of Nassau County Police and NYPD, Fuller appeared sluggish as he walked out of a side entrance of the hospital into a black car. Read more: Queens Courier

Off-duty cop shot in Bronx in stable condition, 1 suspect dead

An off-duty cop, shot in the chest while attempting to break up an armed robbery, fired and killed one of the suspects while two others fled. The incident occurred at 6:30 p.m. in the Bronx when off-duty officer Ivan Marcano’s girlfriend witnessed a robbery in progress while the pair drove on Harrison Avenue. Read more: Queens Courier

Peninsula Hospital sale nearing completion

A group led by a nursing home magnate and former board member of Peninsula Hospital has scooped up the hospital’s assets in bankruptcy. However, future use out of the century-old shuttered hospital as a medical facility is unclear. Read more: Daily News

Former student testifies against accused St. John’s embezzler, ‘Dean of Mean’ Cecelia Chang

Even the family dog abused the scholars-turned-slaves of accused St. John’s University embezzler Cecelia Chang, a former student testified today. Chen Yu Yang, 27, echoed testimony from other former students, that Chang, the former head of the Asian Studies department, forced her into servitude to keep her work-study grant. Read more: NY Post

Queens train brake blasts a loud nuisance, residents say

The sound of the elevated N or Q train can be heard street level as it pulls into the Ditmars Boulevard station, the last stop in Queens. It happens at least every 10 minutes during rush hour. Read more: NY1

Brooklyn woman fails to set record for fastest trip through NYC subway system

History eluded the Brooklyn woman trying to beat the world record for the quickest trip through the city’s subway system. Stefanie Gray, 24, failed to finish in under 22 hours, 52 minutes and 36 seconds. Read more: NY Post

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.”

From the mound to the hardwood, Amir Garrett gears up for the basketball season

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

While his teammates reconvened in Queens for “summer school,” Amir Garrett was training with another team. Luckily, he didn’t have to change the colors on his uniform.

Garrett, a 22nd round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2011, spent the summer training with the baseball team as part of an agreement that lets him play basketball at St. John’s. Garrett averaged about eight points a game in basketball last year, but can also throw a fastball in the 90s as a pitcher.

After joining the Johnnies halfway through last season because of ineligibility, Garrett adjusted within a month and found his groove in the game. This time around, he said, the process of switching from hurling the small ball to shooting the big ball was rusty, but quicker.

“It’s just something I have,” he said. “When I leave and go play one sport, I pick up on it right away.”

Garrett said he learned a lot from joining the team last year as one of five starting freshmen and getting a full year this year will tighten his skills.

“But after the first week-and-a-half [to] two weeks … it was a pretty tough transition but I made the best of it,” he said. “I picked up from where I left off because you know I came in so late in the season, I was kind of nervous. I think it carried over to this year because I get to play at the start of the season.”

And while Garrett’s wearing red and white for St. John’s he won’t discuss baseball.

“When I’m in baseball, no basketball; when I’m in basketball, no baseball.”

That didn’t stop Garrett, however, from sighing and shaking his head when asked about his reaction from the Reds’ elimination from this year’s postseason.

John Starks and St. John’s Dribbles for a Cure

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

In front of nearly 400 students, children and family members, St. John’s men’s basketball coach Steve Lavin stood in his trademark black pants and white sneakers. His focus wasn’t basketball, the upcoming season or the string of new Dribbles recruits he has ushered in.

Instead, Lavin reminded the crowd that cancer, in one way or another, affects everyone sooner or later.

“Cancer will touch everyone at some point in your lifetime,” he said. “Whether it’s you personally going through that battle, just the probabilities, the law of averages, a sibling, a mother or father, a grandfather, someone in the neighborhood, someone that is a good friend. It’s going to touch all of us at some point.”

Lavin, who last year underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer, was one of several St. John’s sports officials who took part in the school’s second “Dribble for the Cure,” held on Saturday, September 22 to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. Among those who came out to support the cause were former longtime coaches Lou Carnesecca and Jack Kaiser, women’s basketball coach Joe Tartamella and New York Knicks alum John Starks.

At press time, the event raised around $25,000 for research, according to the school.

Taking a break from training for their upcoming seasons, players on the men’s and women’s basketball teams took part in the dribble, which circled around the school’s campus before reconvening at their home court in Carnesecca Arena.

One of those players, guard Phil Greene, said taking the time out to participate in an event like this really benefited the kids who were battling cancer.

“Giving back to the kids, you give them something to look forward to,” he said. “Giving the time out of our day, it’s nothing because they’re going through a lot of turmoil right now. It just makes you feel good, because they look up to us and we just give them something just to look forward to.”

Starks, who has lost several relatives to cancer, said he lost his grandmother, mother and sister to breast cancer and could empathize what it was like to battle the disease.

“I understand what the families go through, and it’s great to see we’re all here and understanding that this fight is never, never, never ending,” he said.

Lavin, who before the event confirmed to reporters that he is now cancer free, told the participants that their attendance was inspiring and should drive others to support the fight against cancer.

“Clearly, this is an example of the human spirit, and that’s what this is really a celebration of,” he said. “Those that support loved ones that are struggling with the dreaded disease are showing compassion, and compassion is part of the human spirit. Your time is well spent today and I want you to pat yourself on the back for showing up, showing a great example for others to follow and creating great synergy.”

St. John’s fencers meet Obama

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of St. John’s University

They got to travel and compete in London, and now two St. John’s University fencers can add meeting the president to their stat sheet.

Seniors Daryl Homer and Dagmara Wozniak met President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden last week as part of the commander in chief’s meeting with USA’s Olympians a month after they crossed the pond to compete.

“I’m unbelievably grateful to have met President Obama,” Homer said in a release from St. John’s. “This is a memory I will always cherish.”

Homer took a year off from NCAA eligibility to train and practice for the summer games. During that time he trained twice a day, focusing on footwork, sparring and practicing drills, adding up to around 20 hours a week.

He finished sixth in men’s saber at the summer games — the best for an American in that class this year — after he beat Russian second-seeded Alexey Yakimenko in his first round.

Although Wozniak traveled to Beijing with team USA in 2008 as a substitute player, she did not walk with the other athletes or take part in the games. The Polish-born Wozniak finally made her Olympic appearance this year. She finished eighth in the women’s saber competition — reaching the quarterfinals — following her victory over the seventh seed in the round of 16.

Wozniak said meeting the president was something that would stick with her forever.

“It was an amazing day,” Wozniak said. “Meeting the president and being able to take a tour of the White House is something I’ll never forget.”

Wozniak finished her final year of NCAA eligibility this year, according to the release, but will continue at St. John’s to complete her degree.

Both fencers are planning on, and looking forward to, representing the U.S. again in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

— With additional reporting by Liam La Guerre

St. John’s fencer finishes sixth in men’s individual saber at Olympics

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of St. John’s University

Daryl Homer was underrated going into the men’s individual saber event in the London Olympics, since it was his first-ever appearance in the pinnacle of athletic competition.

But the 18-seeded Homer shocked everyone when he upset world ranked No. 2 Alexey Yakimenko of Russia, 15-14, showcasing the strength of the U.S. fencing team.

“In my honest opinion, I think Russia came here today thinking they were going to walk all over us,” Homer said. “We just proved to them that they’re going to have to rewrite their plan if they want to beat us.”

Homer, a student of St. John’s University, tied St. John’s alum Keeth Smart for the highest finish in men’s individual saber (sixth) since the 1984 games.

Homer received a first round bye to start the 64-bracket tournament, but in the round of 32, Homer won his first bout against Romania’s Tiberiu Dolniceanu, 15-11.

In the ensuing round, Homer dominated early against Yakimenko, taking a 14-9 lead before the Russian national tied the score with five consecutive touches. The fencers then had five straight standoffs where neither received a point, because they were ruled simultaneous attacks.

Yury Gelman, coach of the Olympic team and St. John’s fencing program, gave the 22-year old some advice during the match, as referees watch instant video replay of the fencers’ attacks.

“Yury told me to keep the pressure on him, stay confident, and be sharp,” Homer said. “He said not to watch, because Yakimenko is amazing at his invitations.”

Following his coach’s guidance Homer was able to land the final blow and pull off the upset.

But, the young fencer’s run would come to an end in the round of eight when he lost to Romania’s Rares Dumitrescu, 15-13, despite defeating a stronger opponent a round earlier.

“Yakimenko is a fencer who’s more comfortable for me stylistically,” Homer said. “He’s going for more meditated actions and is fencing more off his tactics. Dumitrescu is more difficult for me. He’s strong. He’s huge.”

Homer isn’t done just yet.

He is set to compete in the men’s team saber event on August 3, and he is sure his previous performance delivered a direct message.

“We had our plan and it was successful,” Homer said. “If we can execute in the team event, I’m very confident in how we’ll do.”

Another St. John’s fencer, saber Dagmara Wozniack, will compete in the women’s individual tournament in London on August 1.

Two Johnnies fence for Olympic gold

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

red storm fencers

The Red Storm has had a lot to talk about lately.

Its women’s basketball team made its first appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen; the baseball team broke into the NCAA Super Regionals and had five players drafted by the major leagues; and Maurice Harkless is the first Johnny to be drafted by the NBA in about decade.

And if that was not enough, the Red Storm is set to roll into London for the Summer Olympic Games when sabers Daryl Homer and Dagmara Wozniak will go for the gold in fencing.

Although the dream to become an Olympian was the same for Homer and Wozniak, the paths taken to the Games were slightly different.

Homer is a native of the Virgin Islands who grew up in the Bronx. He got the itch for fencing after watching a sword wielding figure in a commercial for the 2000 Olympics, when he was 11. So he did what all kids interested in something new would do.

“I just kind of bugged my mom like ‘hey can I try that it looks really cool,’” Homer said. “What little kid doesn’t want to stab people with swords?”

His mother signed him up in the Peter Westbrook Foundation in Manhattan, which is a non-profit organization that trains inner-city kids in fencing.

There he met current St. John’s University head coach Yury Gelman.

Homer followed Gelman, his first and only coach, all the way to St. John’s.

Gelman didn’t realize Homer could become an Olympian at first, but noted improvement through the years.

“I saw his talent, but I wasn’t sure if he would be able to work hard enough,” Gelman said. “But he did. He changed his behavior at age 16, dramatically.”

That hard work led Homer to dominate at the college level. He won three world medals and back-to-back NCAA men’s saber championships.

Homer redshirted his senior year to get more time to prepare for the Olympics. He trained twice a day, for about 20 hours a week, working on footwork and sparring in the morning. He then traveled to the Manhattan Fencing Center in the afternoon to practice drills.

“I think he’s definitely getting to be a much stronger fencer,” Gelman said. He added that one problem Homer may encounter is being nervous on the top stage, because it will be his first Olympic appearance.

However, he has the advantage of his personal coach at his side, since Gelman will also be the Olympic coach for Team USA.

“Our sport is an extremely psychological sport,” Gelman said. “It would probably mean an advantage for him. He knows me very well and I know him very well. And we know how to work together.”

Ranked number one in the nation and 12th in the world, Homer is confident and poised in advance of his matches on July 29 and August 3. But he is also looking forward to just being at the event.

“Walking in the opening ceremonies is going to be amazing so I just want to enjoy the Olympic experience while I am there,” Homer said.

Wozniak, on the other hand, has already been to the Olympics. Four years ago in Beijing, she was a substitute player, but did not get a chance to participate —or even walk in the opening ceremony.

“I was pretty heated about that,” Wozniak said about not getting to even join the other players at the ceremony.

This time around, because women’s saber is not a team event, each country could only field two sabers and one spot was given to veteran Mariel Zagunis, the top female fencer in the nation and a two-time gold medalist.

Wozniak, a Polish native raised in America, also took a year off to prepare and outranked two other competitors for the second slot, finally earning a chance to compete at the Olympic level.

“I think it’s a pretty amazing feeling,” Wozniak said. “It feels like I worked hard all year, and now I get to show that it was well deserved well earned.”

Wozniak, who defeated Zagunis earlier this year, said although she is an underdog for her event on August 1, she won’t give up without a fight.

“People don’t expect me to win. No one is really putting their money on me,” Wozniak said. “I think that I have a small percentage, but I definitely have a chance and I’m going to fight like hell and hopefully come out on top.”

To follow the Olympians, check twitter: @STJ_Fencing, Dagmara (@WozniakUSA) and Daryl (@DarylHomerUSA)

Moe Harkless drafted by Philadelphia 76ers

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John's University

After more than three months of waiting and debating, Moe Harkless is in the NBA.

The 6-foot-8 small forward who spent only one year playing at St. John’s was selected 15th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers – becoming the first Red Storm player in 12 years to be a first-round pick.

The Jamaica, Queens native joins other Red Storm alumni like Erick Barkley and Ron Artest to go in the first round. The highest draft pick in St. John’s history was Sonny Dove, who in 1967 was selected fourth-overall by the Detroit Pistons. The most recent draft pick produced by the school was Omar Cook, who went in the second round of the 2001 draft and now plays for the Montenegrin National Basketball Team.

Harkless was named the Big East Rookie of the Year while at St. John’s, where he flourished as a small forward and found his game on a team comprised mainly of freshman. When Harkless declared on March 19 that he would enter the draft, however, his size and experience were criticized.

Should the small forward see playing time this upcoming season, there is a good chance he’ll go against Charlotte Bobcats head coach and former St. John’s assistant coach Mike Dunlap — who coached Harkless during his single season in the NCAA, while Head Coach Steve Lavin was recovering from prostate cancer surgery.

When Harkless announced in March that he was entering the draft, he acknowledged that Lavin’s on-court absence this season was a factor in deciding to go to the next level. Regardless, Harkless said this week that he and Lavin had become more friends than player and coach.

“We became more friends as the season went on especially as he wasn’t coaching it was easier for me and him to have a relationship and I think we’ll be friends for a long time,” Harkless said.

After spending nearly his entire, young career playing in the tri-state area – three high school years at Forest Hills, his senior year at South Kent in Connecticut and a season in Jamaica – Harkless said leaving New York would be a change, but is ready to go anywhere the game takes him.

“It’d be different but it would definitely be a good experience and I’d be excited to go wherever,” he said.

Harkless said New York basketball players had not diminished in prominence; rather, this draft shows that New York still has a strong basketball presence.

“A lot of people say that New York basketball has fallen off and I think this indicates it hasn’t,” he said. “This definitely puts New York back on the map.”


St. John’s asst. coach Mike Dunlap named head coach of Charlotte Bobcats

| brennison@queenscourier.com

The pipeline that Steve Lavin has created from St. John’s to the NBA is not for players only.

Assistant coach Mike Dunlap has been named as the next head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats — his first head coaching job at the Division I or NBA level.

Dunlap, 54, took over Red Storm coaching duties this past season as Lavin was recovering from surgery. He led the team to an 11-19 record while at the helm of a team that played almost exclusively freshmen.

“The Johnnies basketball family is ecstatic for Coach Dunlap’s opportunity. Mike’s selection as the Charlotte Bobcats’ head coach is a well-deserved honor,” Lavin said in a statement. “ To make the unprecedented jump from college assistant to NBA head coach is testament to both Mike’s abilities as a teacher and our basketball program’s marked improvement over the past 27 months.”

Dunlap was reportedly not on the Bobcats shortlist — which included Jerry Sloan, Indiana assistant Brian Shaw and Lakers assistant Quin Snyder — for the opening, but was offered the job Monday night.

Prior to joining the Johnnies, Dunlap was associate head coach with the Oregon Ducks and Arizona Wildcats.

The new Bobcats coach also has NBA coaching experience. Dunlap spent two seasons as a coach on George Karl’s staff with the Denver Nuggets.

Moe Harkless, another former Red Storm who will shortly join Dunlap in the NBA, tweeted, “Dunlap, a great coach, better person. Strong passion and is dedicated to the game more than any coach I’ve had. No doubt he’ll be successful.”

The Bobcats last season set the record for NBA futility finishing 7-59, the worst winning percentage in NBA history.