St. John’s fans got a chance to meet the 2017-2018 St. John’s men’s and women’s basketball team last night at the 10th Annual Tip-Off Event.
Held in Carnesecca Arena, the event featured a St. John’s alumni game, player introductions, an open practice session, and then an intrasquad scrimmage between the men’s team. The intrasquad scrimmage was highlighted by names like Anthony Mason Jr., Phil Missere, and Boo Harvey. Chris Mullin did not suit up.
Head coaches Joe Tartamella and Chris Mullin both spoke to the crowd with similar messages: there is a lot of reason to be excited about St. John’s basketball. The women’s team returns Imani Littleton, Maya Singleton, Alisha Kebbe, and Akina Wellere who all contributed significantly last season. In addition to the returnees, the team welcomes Staten Island native Qadashah Hoppee, and Tiana England is now cleared to go after missing her entire freshman season last year with an injury.
Tartamella has made expectations and Queens such that fans think they team should make the tournament every year. With a good mix of veterans and new faces, postseason play is very attainable for the Red Storm.
During the men’s intrasquad scrimmage, redshirt sophomore Justin Simon’s freakish athleticism became very apparent as he threw down multiple high-flying dunks. Bashir Ahmed and Bryan Trimble both looked very efficient shooting from behind the arc. Fans also got their first chance to see Mikey Dixon, who knocked down a few nice jumpers. Obviously defense was lacking in the scrimmage, so overanalyzing it would be a mistake.
Assuming that the team can figure out things on the defensive side of the court, it looks like the offense will be much improved from last season. The team has more weapons now so opposing defenses will not be able to just key in on Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett.
After all the basketball festivities, students and fans saw a performance from NYC native Dave East. In the middle of East’s 25-minute performance, things took a slight political turn. He urged all St. John’s students to join him in a moment of protest against the President by holding an obscene gesture in the air.
St. John’s held Tip-Off with just under a month left until the season. A men’s and women’s double header on Friday, November 10 will officially get the season started. The women play first at 4:30 P.M. and play host to St. Francis of Brooklyn. The men are set to tip off at 7:00 P.M. and play host to New Orleans.