Today, the St. John's Red Storm have returned to a national ranking for the first time since 2000, after winning 6 of 7 games, 3 against ranked opponents, and moving into contention for a top-4 spot in the Big East. #23 in the Associated Press poll; #25 in the coaches poll.
And yeah, these are just rankings, and rankings are just numbers.The important number is that NCAA seed. We should quibble with a coaches' poll that thinks Duke, in the mediocre ACC and with a beating from St. John's, is the #1 team in the land? Rankings are an easy starting point for debate and fan involvement, more than a true measure of who the best teams are.
But it's been a long drought. A LONG drought for a school whose flagship sport is men's college basketball. Let's revel in it for an hour or so.
My reaction? Something like this:
SEAT AT THE TABLE! Now my head hurts.
What was your reaction?
This is high altitude for a fan, high praise for the program. The program is being talked about, the school is relevant again. Joe Lunardi has the Johnnies as a 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. I'm surprised when a weekend recap DOESN'T touch on the Red Storm.
These are heady days. Young St. John's fans weren't even in middle school when the Red Storm were nationally ranked. How should fans deal with being relevant? Read some advice on how to roll in the goodness of a national ranking, from the Rumble and from blogging friends, below the fold.
Step 1: Act like we've been there before. No one likes a truly obnoxious fan who says "my team is the best". There's a bit more season to go, and the NCAAs still to come - a lot more chances to send folks links about why St. John's is so good.
Step 1b: Check out for favorite St. John's site, and say there's work to be done. Whether you comment on the Rumble, in the newspaper posts, Johnny Jungle, Redmen.com, or other places, always act like you're not satisfied with a ranking. This is the new era.
Step 2: Call the Fordham loss a "development loss". The basketball punditry still mentions the Fordham and Bonaventure loss as evidence that the Red Storm are a weak team... that was 3 months ago. The team was "developing their character" and... I don't know, say something using the phrases "crucible" and "fire" and "gut check".
Step 3: Start requesting time off of work on March 18th and 19th. There are going to be honest-to-goodness NCAA Tournament games to watch, with real ramifications! We all need to cherish these moments as fans. I know I will.
Step 4: Find Big East Tournament tickets. This year, you might need to have tickets all the way to Saturday evening's championship game!
Step 5: Don't complain about the teams ahead of the Johnnies in the rankings. Yes, our team is better. But our team will also prove it on the court, where it matters.
For more ideas on how to act, I asked Villanova blogger Brian from VU Hoops and Andrew from Casual Hoya how the fans should act. After all, both fanbases experienced a resurgence in the 00s (aka the "Naughty Oughts"), with Jay Wright grinding his team to elite-level and John Thompson III wiping the previous mediocrity away with Princetonian principles.
Brian says, "enjoy every second of it. When Jay Wright brought Villanova back into the limelight a few years ago it was about the middle of my run as an undergrad. I had just endured two horrific seasons, I watched Villanova lose to St. Joes as part of their almost-perfect season, there were home blow-outs at the hands of Providence and phone card scandals that derailed the program. When Villanova finally got back to the top-25, I didn't care who thought I was an obnoxious jerk, I was going to let everyone know.
So live it up, because once St. Johns becomes a fixture in the rankings, you won't be able to."
Andrew passed the question to the many involved posters at the Casual Hoya community. The two best answers:
sju should announce to the world that it is going to take it all by eatthatbox09
Visualize a fairy tale ending at the Garden
then prepare to have your soul crushed when you get bounced by any of the 7 teams in your own conference who will still be ranked above you. by beatcuse
I like it.
Here we go! - back to relevance. Folks, what are you gonna do to show your swagger?