NEW YORK, NY – We’ve covered ad nauseam the graveyard that this time of year has become for sports. That is sports, that people actually pay attention to. Yes, we were all thrilled with T.J. Oshie’s shootout performance on Saturday against those Commie Bastards. Plus, Oshie’s got this girlfriend befitting athletes the stature of Derek Jeter and Matt Harvey, so he does carry a certain level of credibility. But as far as captivating our short attention spans, no amount of Vyvanse is going to keep us rapt and glued the way MLB and the NFL do.
Pitchers and Catchers have now reported to Florida and Arizona, and we’re all excited about what lies ahead-even us miserable Met fans. But something must carry us this last mile of this unforgiving and unrelenting Winter. This is why I am going to take the whole damn MTM Writing Staff, readers, sycophants and Baseball Annies and put them on my back. I will carry us all across the finish line by reminding everyone and sounding the alert that COLLEGE BASKETBALL is alive and well and heading into the most exciting time of the sports year!
I’ve got a couple of theories as to why College Hoops seems to have lost some of its luster the past couple of years. Around here in New York, the long slumber that has enveloped the St. John’s Mens Basketball team has effectively rendered the Metropolitan area a college basketball afterthought. Back in the 1980s and through the 90s, the then “Red Men” WERE New York College Basketball. The ’80s were the heyday, when Chris Mullin, Walter Berry, Mark Jackson, Shelton Jones, and Willie Glass led the Red Men-yes, the RED MEN, to the NCAA tourney every year under Coach Lou Carnesecca, including 1985 when the Johnnies entered the Big Dance as the #1 overall seed. Three, count ‘em 3-Big East teams made it to the Final 4 that year with Villanova memorably knocking off mighty Patrick Ewing led Georgetown in the second greatest upset in NCAA history. The 90s was also a good stretch for St. Johns when they reached the NCAA Ball seven times topped by an Elite 8 appearance vs. Scoonie Penn, Michael Redd and The Ohio State University. But the recent past has not been kind to the Johnnies. Two NCAA tourney appearances in the past 10 years have resulted in apathy, and indifference toward this once proud New York team.
Under Coach Steve Lavin, this year’s version of the “Red Storm” is their most exciting in more than a decade. Now winners of 8 of their last 9 games, the Red Storm are poised to return to the Big Dance and make some noise. Widely considered the most talented roster in the Big East, the Johnnies are blowing up the College Basketball landscape by ushering in a renaissance here in New York. The boys in Red have a real shot to do some serious damage as they are peaking at the right time. In stark contrast to their Professional counterparts here in town, the Red Storm kids don’t pout, don’t argue every call and always play their hearts out. If you’re turned off by the joke known as the Knicks, then St John’s Basketball will appeal to you.
The other reason for waning college interest has been the absurd proliferation of televised games. College hoops are on 7 days a week across literally dozens of channels on TV. Games can be streamed online as well-as can highlights and all of a sudden, we’ve become over-saturated by college games. The product has become watered down and commoditized, and is slogging through the regular season. This has hurt the game’s popularity and appeal. Much like when Major League Baseball offered just one Saturday game of the Week, college ball used to be special, and uncommon.
But with March Madness fast approaching, the excitement is building in the only sport where true underdogs can conquer their Goliaths. Dreams can be reached and anything is possible. The Big Dance is nearly upon us and with a local squad in our backyard about to re-emerge, the New York area should be in great shape for the final mile before baseball becomes King once again.
Tune in tomorrow for Angry Ward.