Monday, November 7th, 2011...12:15 am

Season 22: The Johnnies Road To The Final Four Begins

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Tonight marks my 22nd seasons as a St. John’s fan. I fell hard for the team as an 8-year-old kid in 1989. That season the Johnnies point guard Greg “Boo” Harvey hit a bunch of game-winning last second shots. Jayson Williams and Malik Sealy were the other stars on the team. My local newspaper, Newsday, gave the Johnnies a ton of love (this was still in the glow of the Final Four years). I was already captivated by the Newsday sports section so if they were reporting on the Johnnies I was reading. When I learned the college was less than ten minutes away from our house I was hooked. It would take a few years to convince my Dad to take me to a game. We went to the Garden to watch St. John’s face Indiana in 1991. Sealy, by then an All-American in his senior year, was outplayed by Calbert Cheney and the Johnnies fell to Bobby Knight’s Hoosiers. A few years later my 6th grade English teacher learned I was a Johnnies fan (I wore St. John’s gear to school every day) and started giving me her tickets (first row behind the bench at Alumni Hall), which would then become our season tickets.

Back to the present.

St. John’s opens up its season tonight when they host William & Mary at Carnessecca Arena in Queens. The team is ridiculously young and inexperienced so I’m curious to get a feel for what it will be like to root for them this year. I checked out an exhibition game last week and it wasn’t pretty. The Johnnies couldn’t shoot straight and were especially pitiful from the foul line. They were losing for a large part of the second half and seem rattled until their athleticism helped them pull away in the last few minutes of the game.

They do have loads of talent. I’m especially excited by Nurideen Lindsay (scoring point guard who can get to the basket) and Mo Harkless (queens native with smooths style). With a brutal schedule and only seven scholarship players, six of those being first-year players, everything will need to fall perfectly into place for the Johnnies to have decent success. I keep trying to tell myself that I’m going to need to be patient with this team. But deep down I’m already fantasizing about them knocking off Arizona to win the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament and then shocking Kentucky at Rupp Arena on December 1.

For better or worse, I’ve been thinking about how being a “die-hard” St. John’s fan impacts my life. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel real and this is just an escape from the grind of life. I’m a fan. But I also know my excitement level to attend/watch games, time I spend thinking about the team and highs/lows throughout the season will be a big part of the next six months of my life. I imagine most passionate sports fans feel the same way about their team. Very rarely do we step back and reflect on why all of this is so important to us. Maybe there’s no point to doing that. It just is, right?

I have two season tickets for all of the games in Queens and at MSG this season. One of my buddies is taking most of the MSG games and I can usually twist my Dad’s arm into meeting me in Queens. But there are still a bunch of games where I need a wing man. My offer is that if you show up and root for the Johnnies then I’ll cover everything (tickets, zipcar, beers and jersey’s — you get to pick between a Hatten, Omar Cook or Mullin throwback). Let me know if you’re interested in jumping on the bandwagon. There is always room.

Here’s the home schedule

11/9 – Wed – Lehigh (Queens)
11/13 – Sun – UM-Baltimre County (Queens)
11/17 – Th – Arizona (MSG)
11/18 – Fri – Texas AM or Miss St. (MSG)
11/22 – Tu — St Francis (Queens)
11/26 – Sat – Northeastern (Queens)
12/17 – Sat – Fordham (MSG)
12/21 – Wed – Texas Pan American (Queens)
12/27 – Tuesday – Providence (Queens)
1/3 – Tu – Louisville (MSG)
1/15 – Sun – Georgetown (MSG)
1/21 – Sat – Villanova (MSG)
1/25 – Wed – West Virginia (MSG)
2/4 – Sat – Syracuse (MSG)
2/8 – Wed – Cincinnati (MSG)
2/18 – Sat – UCLA (MSG)
2/20 – Mon – Depaul (Queens)
2/25 – Sat – Notre Dame (MSG)

Related Post: I wrote a blog post in 2008 with the same headline except it was for Season 19.