Oct. 4, 2004
I really feel that there's a buzz over the St. John's program, with the first season of new coach Norm Roberts about to begin. The former Kansas assistant has brought spirit, enthusiasm and excitement back to the Red Storm.
Roberts has done a smart thing by getting New York City's high school coaches interested in the program again. For so long, the Big Apple provided so many great players to St. John's -- guys like Chris Mullin and Mark Jackson, to name only two.
Roberts was hired in April. The previous head coach, Mike Jarvis, was fired last season, in December, after a 2-4 start. I'm so against the firing of coaches during the season (unless there are issues over ethics or morals), but that's what St. John's decided to do.
Roberts had great success as an assistant for nine seasons under Kansas coach Bill Self. Roberts went with Self from Oral Roberts to Tulsa to Illinois to Kansas before accepting the head-coaching job at St. John's.
St. John's has an interesting situation going on in terms of negotiating for home games at Madison Square Garden down the road. It's hard to believe that the Red Storm could be left out in the cold and not play many of its home games at the mecca of college basketball. The big games are usually there, but there's a snag in current discussions for future games after next season.
Playing at MSG is a recruiting advantage for St. John's, even though the program has struggled in recent years. The games belong at the Garden, and there is no doubt in my mind it will be worked out. St. John's will play at the Mecca.
Speaking of the court, it's great to know St. John's is going to honor Lou Carnesecca by naming the floor at Alumni Hall after him. It's an honor long overdue, and I really miss the little guy. I loved his enthusiasm and spirit and the fundamentally solid play his kids showed. Who could ever forget him dancing on the sidelines?
Carnesecca had so much energy, and it's fantastic to hear St. John's will be naming the court after him.
St. John's needs to get the program back on track with the addition of several powers, like Louisville, jumping to the Big East starting next season. I believe Roberts is putting the team in the right direction.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.