Tag Archives: Xavier

‘The new’ Big East


| editorial@queenscourier.com


BY CRAIG GIAMMONA

If the 2013 Big East tournament was a funeral for what had been one of the nation’s best college basketball conferences, then a Wednesday, March 20 press conference announcing a 12-year television deal between Fox Sports and the new Big East could be called a rebirth.

St. John’s and the other so-called “Catholic 7” universities will be joined by Creighton, Xavier and Butler in the new Big East starting next season and the conference will keep its postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden, officials said.

The Big East will get back to its roots next season after slowly being pulled apart by a flirtation with big-time football. And St. John’s fans are welcoming the change.

Rather than bemoaning the loss of Connecticut and Syracuse, two of the conference’s founding members, longtime St. John’s supporters are anticipating the formation of a hoops-oriented league that harks back to the program’s heyday in the 1980s.

“If you look at the teams that were in the Big East at that time, it was a basketball-centric conference and when people look back at that era, those were the best times,” said Chris Holbrook, 33, a Long Island attorney who grew up rooting for St. John’s and graduated from law school there in 2005.

The Big East started as a basketball conference, but slowly expanded over the years in a drive to be a relevant football league as well. Big East officials acknowledged Wednesday that the push toward football, which they said was undertaken to “accommodate” Syracuse and Boston College, had ultimately led to the demise of the conference.

But St. John’s fans aren’t necessarily disappointed with the results, and they believe the new Big East’s focus on basketball will bring stability to the league.

“It won’t be the same, but I’m looking forward to getting back to basketball,” said Gus Stanzione, a 1981 alumni from Staten Island who was headed into the Garden about an hour before the Red Storm were set to take on Villanova in the Big East tournament. “That’s when the problems started – when they started going after football.”

The 12-year television deal will give the conference a home on Fox Sports, and maintaining a foothold in New York City should help the league build its profile, just as it did when the Big East tournament moved to the Garden in 1983.

“Keeping the Garden is huge,” said Tom Shanahan, a 1987 St. John’s graduate who grew up here but now lives in Indianapolis. “It’s probably more important for those other schools, but it’s big to stay in the city.”

Shanahan and other St. John’s fans said keeping the postseason tournament at the Garden will help schools in the conference continue attracting talented local players, who are often more willing to leave home for college with the promise of returning to the city each year for at least a few games.

The Garden has long been a recruiting tool for St. John’s and fans of the team said the departure of Syracuse, arguably the most popular team in the city, could help the Red Storm once again rise to prominence here in New York.

“I think it could make St. John’s the New York team,” Stanzione said.

Shanahan, who attended St. Francis Preparatory High School in Fresh Meadows, hadn’t been inside the Garden in 15 years and made trip to watch St. John’s.

“Honestly, to get to see St. John’s and the rest of the teams I grew up watching, that’s pretty big for me,” Shanahan said. “That’s going to be a good basketball conference.”

 

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SFP beats Xavier in overtime


| ncarousso@queenscourier.com


After beating the Xavier Knights 41-35 in overtime at Hofstra University in Hempstead on Saturday night, October 6, the Saint Francis Prep Terriers are 4-1 overall and 4-0 in Catholic High School Football League (CHSFL) competition.

Their lone loss was against Washingtonville High School, from Kingston, New York, in week one.

One of the Terriers’ strong suits — their running game — struggled to get going in the first half, forcing the team to open up the offense and mix in more passing plays.

As the game wore on, the offensive line began opening holes for the backfield duo of junior halfback Justin Guerre and senior back Kadir Wisdom. With 5:26 left in regulation, Wisdom recorded a 60-yard run with the help of strong blocking up front. The drive was completed with a Guerre 3-yard touchdown run tying the game at 27.

On the other side of the ball, the Terriers struggled to slow Knights junior running back William Solomon, who ran for more than 250 yards for the second consecutive game.

In the fourth quarter, both teams had opportunities on offense, but the game came down to defense. A deflection by senior Ramel Joseph, who ran from one sideline to the other to break up a pass and a likely score, and an interception by Guerre, who hadn’t played defense his entire high school career, helped keep the Terriers in the game.

The interception by Guerre put the Terriers back on offense and Guerre was the beneficiary. Senior quarterback Jack Hurley, who threw for 213 yards, delivered a long, accurate pass down the sideline to Guerre for a 64-yard touchdown with 1:51 to go in regulation. The Terriers then tied it with a 2-point conversion strike from Hurley to Joseph.

In overtime, a Hurley to Wisdom 20-yard touchdown and a defensive stop sealed the Prep victory against Xavier.

The game was the difference between a 3-2 team and a 4-1 team – a very big difference in October in the CHSFL.

“It is so surreal [being 4-0 in the league and beating Xavier Saturday night], but we know that we have a lot of work to do and we are not trying to lose any games this year [in the league],” Wisdom noted before Monday afternoon’s practice.

They play their homecoming game Friday, October 12 at 7 p.m. at Mitchell Field in Uniondale against the Cardinal Spellman Pilots.