For St. John’s University, the hype and energy was and is there for both of their respective basketball squads. If you couldn’t tell, just look at the school’s 10th annual tip-off event.
It was a party. Carnesecca Arena in Queens was packed with students and fans, plenty of whom donned red t-shirts that boldly read “We Are New York’s Team” in navy blue-and-white lettering.
There was smoke. There were spotlights. There was dancing, too. A lot of dancing.
And there was Harlem-based hip-hop artist Dave East, who’s debut EP “Paranoia: A True Story” dropped in August and cracked the top-10 of the Billboard 200. He erformed several songs off of the project, including “Wanna Be Me,” “Found A Way” and “Dirty Little Secret.”
There was also St. John’s men’s basketball sophomore Marcus Lovett, who averaged 15.9 points and 3.8 assists as a freshman last year, coming out in a full king’s costume over his red road uniform, which now reads number 20, a change from number 15 last season.
Shamorie Ponds, who led the team with 17.4 points per game as a true freshman last year, sported a hoodie under his jersey, Carmelo Anthony style. The two will perform under the New York City microscope for the entirety of 2017-18, considering their production last season as the second-highest scoring freshman duo in the nation.
The scrimmage itself was the equivalent of a street ball all-star game. The offense was fun, the defensive effort was minimal, and the energy was uplifting, just how the Basketball Gods intended for Midnight Madness events.
But one thing was abundantly clear: this team has athletes. It appears as if the Red Storm will look to score up and down the floor at an even greater rate than last season, with the likes of Justin Simon, a transfer from Arizona, and freshman Bryan Trimble on board.
The squad also showcased its returnees, like third-leading scorer from last season and senior Bashir Ahmed, along with Kassoum Yakwe and Tariq Owens.
Both the men’s and women’s squads tip-off their regular seasons at Carnesecca Arena in double-header on November 10. The women will face St. Francis Brooklyn at 4:30 p.m., and the men will face the University of New Orleans at 7 p.m.