There's something about the cozy confines of Carnesecca Arena that brings out the best in...
...St. John's opponents.
St. John's has an impressive 19-4 record in Queens since 2010, since Steve Lavin became coach. Why does it feel like the term "home court advantage" is a fallacy?
That's because you've been too busy sweating out too-close-for-comfort games.
Carnesecca should have an intimidation factor. Even after a three-year, $5 million interior renovation, the 6,000 seat Carnesecca - once known as Alumni Hall since its inaugural season over 50 years ago - is still a rickety, unique and warm on-campus home with unusual depth perception and a sneaky ability to hit high decibel levels. You're close to the action in an intimate setting, with students placed on each end just behind the backboards in a way that distracts shooters.
Instead of intimidation, though, visitors often feel comfort when a game is tipped at Carnesecca. We all remember the night the arena was renamed after its legendary St. John's coach, Lou Carnesecca. The road team that night, St. Francis (NY), wasn't overwhelmed by the atmosphere. In fact, they snapped a 26-game losing streak and beat the Red Storm on their home floor.
The losses always stick in the back of your mind like parking lot Winterfresh on your shoe. When someone mentions St. Bonaventure, Cincinnati (hint: 12-26 from the line), Northeastern and UNC-Asheville, you put them in the category of "regrets".
But there might be some you have forgotten about - the wins, the "close calls" that had no business testing your heartbeat and soaking your handkerchief.
Do you remember Rutgers three years ago, when the Scarlet Knights were a Dane Miller three-pointer away from erasing all of the momentum St. John's built by beating Duke three days earlier?
Do you remember second half deficits to William & Mary and Lehigh in 2011? How about the same to N.J.I.T., the program coming off a string of losing seasons (1-30 in 2009) in 2012?
Then there was DePaul's visit to Carnesecca last year, a game that ended up in overtime after St. John's most reliable scorer D`Angelo Harrison fouled out.
The point is, it's a script we've seen time and time again. Carnesecca Arena sees more thrillers than it does blowouts, whether Johnnies fans like it or not.
The Red Storm's results in Queens are indeed impressive. A lot of teams would accept four losses on its home court over a three-year span. But Lavin's teams may have walked the tight rope too many times for comfort, and in a season with so much riding on it, the sweat will be more evident during St. John's eight Carnesecca Arena games between now and March.
As Wagner walks onto the court on Friday, you shouldn't expect a St. John's waltz to its first victory of the young season.
You should expect the unexpected.
More from Rumble In The Garden:
- From the Time Machine: St. John's long history against the Wagner Seahawks
- College Basketball AP/ Coaches polls, week 1
- Not Half Bad Podcast: recapping the road opener for St. John's, home opener for Rutgers
- St. John's vs Wisconsin stat recap: Johnnies struggled in key areas to Wisconsin
- St. John's vs Wisconsin final score: Red Storm drop season opener, 86-75, in South Dakota