The crowd came early.
And the crowd was thick.
The Red Storm fans came out in bunches to see the Red Storm kick off the new basketball year, ending an offseason of speculation about the incoming talent on the men's team. And with some sprightly introductions, an electric dunk contest, and lively scrimmage, the St. John's players gave the fans a lot to salivate about in the weeks between this first "practice" and the opening exhibition game against Sonoma State on November 1st.
Five best moments from Red Storm Tip-Off
5. St. John's women's coach Joe Tartamella was getting loose behind the white screen that shielded the players before their introductions. You could see the moves - cat-quick, dancer agile, better than one would expect out of a basketball coach, for sure.
4. The Ladies love Marco Bourgault. He got some loud cheers when he stepped on the floor. As Vince of Sweet Sweet Lavin put it, "he's tall, blonde, and French. He's got it all."
3. Orlando Sanchez' passing ability was impressive. Jamal Branch was really good; D`Angelo Harrison made a nice pass in the scrimmage. But Orlando Sanchez was willing to pass behind his back, to pass in the middle of an offensive move, and looked like a point forward. I know, it's an exhibition. But that was tantalizing for a team that had real trouble getting easy buckets.
2. JaKarr Sampson's dunk
He receives a pass from Orlando Sanchez' FEET. Sanchez stabilizes the ball for the alley-oop and Sampson throws it down.
Yes, that happened. We'll post better video when we have it.
1. The return of Steve Lavin brought expected cheers. Coming out to McFadden and Whitehead's "Ain't No Stopping Us Now", the crowd chanted Lavin's last name and cheered uproariously for his short speech.
Afterwards, he told the media that "feeding off the players' energy was an uplifting experience for me...it reminds you of the joy team sports can bring."
Lavin, returning from a year where he could only coach four games while recuperating from prostate cancer surgery, was excited to be back to coach his team.
"The most challenging aspect of last season was not being able to participate in the journey on an everyday basis," he said. And with a talented but young roster, he has a long journey ahead of him.
Would you have picked other moments? Tell us in the comments.
Notes: Phil Greene sat out of the scrimmage with a sore hip... 2014 guard Isaiah Whitehead did not show up for Red Storm Tip-Off... Jermaine Lawrence did, wearing a sling... Felix Balamou has a lot of bounce, throwing down dunks in the lay-up line... Chris Obekpa's reach blocked at least one three pointer and bothered other jump shots.
More Red Storm Tip-Off coverage tomorrow. Hat tip to Jaden and Quinn for the notes, video, and quotes.