A Johnnies Guide to the Galaxy

Where do you go if you are in need of watching the St. John’s basketball game and can’t get to a game?

After spending six years at St. John’s (it’s ok I got both my undergraduate and graduate degrees), plus three years since and numerous years prior, to list the places I have watched a St. John’s game would be tough to do in one post. So when Volvo and the

BIG EAST Conference tasked me with this latest blog post, my mind started to race. Especially since this is the first year that every St. John’s game was on TV (Nicely done Fratto). So with blog post No. 6 of Volvo’s “Biggest Fan of the BIG EAST Conference” requiring me to write about “what are my favorite places to watch the Red Storm when I can’t be there,” I have decided to use six years of Fresh Meadows knowledge plus my college athletics experience to run down the Johnnies Guide to the Galaxy: A list of the best places to watch St. John’s Basketball.

Let’s start where it all began. 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, N.Y. (For those of you not in the know, that is the main campus of St. John’s) Quick shoutout to all of my Hollis Hall and Donovan peeps

. Now obviously if there was a game on campus at Carnesecca Arena or in the city at the world’s most famous arena and the mecca of college basketball, Madison Square Garden, we would be there

, but what about those pesky road games?

Shall we start with freshman year and move forward? Yea, I think that’s a good idea.

The easiest way to watch the game was to obviously stay in the dorms. Whether it was huddling around the 27-inch non-flatscreen in the common room (hey it was 2003, it was the best we had) or squeezing seven people into a bedroom to watch on someone’s 34-inch (ooo, ahhhhh), we were just excited to root on the Johnnies. Once we frosh worked up the courage to venture off campus, we found one of our favorite watering holes… Traditions. Ask any St. John’s student who lived on campus in the past decade and they will tell you it all started at Trads.

Sophomore year brought about another revelation: Last Call. Just a few minutes walk from campus, what has now become a Verizon store, was once one of the most popular St. John’s hangouts in my four years as an undergrad. My fraternity (SIGMA CHI BETA!) was always in there with a few others we were friendly with, as well as the sororities (wink, wink), to enjoy a cold beer and watch the Johnnies try and take down another BIG EAST foe. I even ended up working there my senior year as a doorman.

As we continued to branch out we found other St. John’s staples like the Sly Fox Inn and Iguanas Cantina, which to this day are still some of the best places to stop by and watch a game. Plus a smokehouse burger and a hoegarten, or a margarita and a burrito is never a bad thing to have with a good game.

As we got older (and legal) we found one of the greatest things about St. John’s is its proximity to New York City. We would often venture in, taking the Q46 bus to the E (thank God for the express) or F train into the “greatest city in the world.” The usual spots were the ones located closest to MSG, specifically Stout and F.A.T.S. (short for Fat Annie’s Truck Stop)

Once we graduated (and some of us though it would be a good idea to stick around for another two years for grad school) we finally upgraded to that flatscreen we had all been hoping for. And since we all were in the two-year plan for our master’s degree and had blown most of our money on said flatscreen, it became a usual hangout (yes, yes, boo-hoo, poor college student having the time of his life).

Now you would think once we had finished grad school, gotten real jobs and supposedly grown up a little bit, we might have upgraded to a nicer viewing atmosphere. In a way I guess I did. Two months ago when I went to visit my brother who is now a junior at St. John’s we headed straight to one of Fresh Meadows newer establishments known for it’s wings and er… service.

As much as we all do like to kick back and a restaurant, enjoy a nice draft beer with some buffalo wings, it isn’t always cost effective. That being said, the way I now watch the majority of my St. John’s games is on the very laptop I type this blog post. ESPN3 has become the go-to for any Red Storm game and is accesible anywhere you are (whether you should be working, or actually at work).

Thus completes this Hitchkickers.. uh, Johnnies Guide to the Galaxy (limited to my humble experiences).

Please continue to vote for my and St. John’s in the MyBigEastVolvo.com Polls and be sure to follow my on Twitter @BIG3Sports. Also, check out my fan page on Facebook.

For more info on all things St. John’s, visit RedStormSports.com.

O, and I know this from last year, but I just have to share this video proclaiming Coach Keady as the “Buddha of St. John’s Basketball.” Absolutely perfect. Coach Keady is the man!

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We Are… St. John’s! Red Storm at it’s Finest

It’s that time you have all been waiting for… it’s Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the BIG EAST challenge post time! For the fifth topic of this season long contest, Volvo has tasked the 16 contestants with identifying the best traditions for our alma maters.

First off, St. John’s is one of the few BIG EAST schools to be lucky enough to have two home venues: Carnesecca Arena and Madison Square Garden. The history behind both the arena formerly know as “Alumni Hall” and the “World’s Most Famous Arena” or the “Mecca of College Basketball” is undeniable. The on-campus Queens venue had to be renamed because of the accomplishments that former head coach and STJ “Legacy” Lou Carnesecca led the program to, while the annual BIG EAST Championship is held at the Red Storm’s “other” home venue.

Now my experience at St. John’s is an interesting one. I may have attended just three games as an actual fan because of my major and interest in working in athletics as both a Sports Management major at STJ and working for the athletic department since my first day on campus, I rarely experienced a game from a fans point of view. Not that it took away from my love of St. John’s basketball at all. I began working for the Red/White Club, which put on dinners prior to each home game for alumni. From my perspective, I was able to see every home game for free. I was not able to be in the student section, but I was there, taking it all in.

My traditions became heading to the arena an hour early to set up for some of the most dedicated alumni that St. John’s has ever had. Some of the most memerable moments that I can remember are former head coaches Mike Jarvis and Norm Roberts coming into the dinners pregame to talk to the alumni about that evenings game and what the team would focus on. In-game, I was able to get closer to the court than most undergrads could dream of. I was often given a press pass, where I would stand in the Garden tunnel and be near-mesmerized as opposing players such as Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon would walk by or legendary coaches like Jim Boeheim or Rick Pitino would ask me to please move as they made their way to the their respective locker rooms.

Now while my undergraduate and post-grad experience may be much different than most, it should not take away from some of the great traditions (new and old) that St. John’s has.

One of the new traditions at St. John’s is the annual “Black-Out Game.” Fans receive black STJ Basketball t-shirts while the Red Storm come out in their alternate black uniforms, which have become a huge hit for players and fans alike.

One of the greatest things about going to a St. John’s game is a chance to meet living legends. Two games that I will always remember were the times where I got to talk to Coach Carnesecca prior to the start of the matchup. Coach would often walk through the lobby talking to any and everyone, always with a kind word and an excellent story as you stood awe-struck in front of him.

Thanks to “Lou’s” unforgettable style, one other new staple of any St. John’s season is “Ugly Sweater Night.” Every year, around the holiday season, fans and even the mascot are encouraged to wear their most hideous sweaters, not only to celebrate Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza and the like, but to celebrate the career of one of college basketball’s most memorable coaches, Lou Carnesecca.

Now St. John’s is not just about its former coaches, it is about its current coach. Steve Lavin has brought his own fashion flair, substance and coaching style to the Red Storm. Most notably his signature look of Air Force Ones and the tie-less suit. Want to look like you own the collegiate basketball scene? Get yourself a fresh white pair and make sure you leave your older brother’s tie at home (No need to tell anyone you don’t own a tie or know how to tie it anyways).

Since St. John’s underwent an amazing renovation at Carnesecca Arena which put the student section directly on top of opposing free-throw shooters, students have enjoyed being a giant factor in the game. One other thing that the student section has brought in is the invention of “Lavinwood.” Being from UCLA while having a larger-than-life presence the letters L-A-V-I-N-W-O-O-D are often prominently displayed at either Carnesecca or MSG.

While some of the new traditions at St. John’s have become a staple, one tradition that will not go away any time soon is the Red Storm’s (or previously the Red Men’s) signature chant: We Are… St. John’s.

Whether STJ is trying to get trying to get back in the game or are up by 20, the student section as well as all of St. John’s die-hard fans know that as soon as they hear “we are,” the proper response will always be… ST. JOHN’S!

As always please continue to vote for me at MyBigEastVolvo.com, follow me on Twitter.com at handle @BIG3Sports and like the Facebook.com/Gambo4VolvoBiggestFan.

Ultimate Volvo S60: BIG EAST Edition

So if you haven’t heard yet, I am representing my alma mater (twice over), St. John’s University, in the second annual Volvo “Biggest Fan of the BIG EAST” Contest. As part of the competition, the 16 contestants (each representing one of the conference teams) must write challenge posts on their respective blogs which are then judged by the good folks over at Volvo Cars USA. The objective for blog entry No. 4: Create the Ultimate St. John’s Volvo S60. Fans can also build their own Volvo S60 at VolvoCars.com.

The first step in this process is to create the perfect S60. Of course, you would have to pick the “R-Design.” This model includes a six-speed geartronic automatic transmission, 3.0 liter engine, with 325 horses, dual exhaust and 354 lbs. of torque. Along with the usual Volvo bells & whistles, it also includes HD radio & Sirius XM, a bluetooth handsfree system, USB/IPod function, moonroof and 18-inch Ixion alloy wheels.

Time to go all out as available climate, technology and multimedia packages make this a truly “ultimate” S60. Volvo also offers two accessories that would be perfect for a true St. John’s fan. An integrated navigation system helps you find your way through New York City as Johnnies make their way Madison Square Garden, while a rear seat entertainment system allows friends to keep up on BIG EAST basketball.

Now it may seem like a given that a St. John’s automobile would have to be some shade of red, but since 2009, when the Red Storm introduced their alternate black jerseys, the annual “black-out” game has become a huge success, while the jerseys themselves have been a team favorite. With that in mind, black sapphire metallic is definitely the color for this ultimate VolvoS60.

I really contemplated putting a giant STJ logo on the hood and/or lightning bolts down the side, but a more subtle approach to represent the Red Storm may be appropriate for this machine. Although a vanity plate that says “526” (the number of wins recorded by legendary head coach Lou Carnesecca) or “Lavinwood” may be in order.

Instead of the excessive paint jobs, after market body kits and custom spoilers all in red & white, this “ultimate St. John’s Volvo” will have several additions to make it a true Johnnie.

Floor mats

Custom Plates

Good tunes

Lou Carnesecca & Steve Lavin (they come with the car right?)

Metta World Peace?

Perfect.

Please continue to vote for me at MyBigEastVolvo.com, and be sure to follow me on Twitter @BIG3Sports.

Also, like the Facebook page.

Top 5: Touchdown Celebrations of 2011

Last night, I watched Victor Cruz catch a short pass from Eli Manning.  He then turned the corner and took off toward pay dirt like he stole something.  Once he scored, he broke into his patent Victor Cruz Salsa Dance, complete with accompanying music blared from the Met Life Stadium speakers. I also realized there is an art to celebrating a touchdown.  Stevie Johnson certainly hasn’t mastered the art because he is good for a 15 yard penalty after every touchdown he scores with his excessive celebrations. Yesterday, it earned him a spot on the bench for the rest of the game. This got me thinking about who had the best patent end zone celebrations in 2011.

5) Tim Tebow- “Tebowing” 

I equate Tim Tebow to John Cena from the WWE.  You either love him or you despise him.  Much like Cena he doesn’t let people’s opinions phase him.  He can be putrid in some games yet walk on water in other games.  But no matter the circumstance, he will be found down on one knee, head bowed, deep in prayer and the rise up, yell and point to the sky.  He has even turned into a national phenomenon.

 

 

 

 

4) Rob Gronkowski “The Spike”

Rob Gronkowski put together the best season ever by a tight end in 2011.  He set the receiving yardage mark with 1,327 yards.  He also set the record for most touchdowns by a tight end with 17.  At the end of the each of those 17 touchdowns, Gronk would spike the ball to the turf with all his might.  It is a simple celebration, but when you see it 17 times, it starts to grow on you.

 

 

 

 

3) Aaron Rodgers- “Showing off the Belt”

Two WWE references in one post? Really? Really?  (Ok there’s 3).  When you have a commercial that features your touchdown celebration you are worthy of a top 5 spot.  I am a fan of Aaron Rodgers’ subtle flashing the belt because I am a WWE fan.  Not to mention Rodgers looks pretty bad ass when he does it.  Discount double-check? Yes sir.

 

 

 

 

 

2) Victor Cruz “The Salsa”

My favorite play from Victor Cruz this year came when the Giants were getting blown out of the stadium by the New Orleans Saints.  Cruz caught a 72 yard touchdown in the beginning of the fourth quarter.  No, he didn’t break out into his Salsa, he simply game the ball to the ref because he knew there was no celebrating losing by 30.  After seeing that, I became a big Victor Cruz fan and now thoroughly enjoy the dance.

 

 

 

 

 

1) Green Bay Packers “The Lambeau Leap”

Sure, this celebration has been going on for decades.  But is there truly anything better than a player running up and jumping into the fans’ arms?  Ultimately the fans are the reason the players are on the field and making the money they do.  To celebrate with the people who make you who you are is truly the greatest celebration. The Packers went 8-0 at home this season and scored 43 touchdowns at Lambeau Field.  Yes, that’s 43 Lambeau Leaps!

 

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF