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SHAN ON THE STORM: 2010 Red Storm Tip-Off Captures STJ Basketball Madness

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for shan-on-storm.jpgSt. John's 2010 Red Storm Tip-Off made me wish I had gone to a Division I school. The experience was a complete and utter display of school spirit. While actual games unite the team and fans behind a common opponent, a school's Midnight Madness has no opponent; it's just one big party.

It started with the introduction of the women's team, who displayed unity from the start. The girls came out dancing after their names were called, which immediately got the crowd rocking. Then, the team performed an impressive dance routine that only took them two days to put together.

Coach Kim Barnes Arico said to the crowd afterward, "We know these girls can dance, but the question is, 'Can they ball?'"

Oh, they balled. While the performance didn't include any high-flying dunks or acrobatic moves, the girls were fundamentally sound and displayed smooth shooting.

Senior guard Sky Lindsay, one of the sharpshooters, later said to me, "It was so much fun out there, but I can't wait for the guys to come out. Paris Horne and Justin Burrell, especially. They are the best dancers!"

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The boys, however, were not quite as unrestrained as the girls. Though they were bashful about dancing, they let loose on the basketball court. The scrimmage became a complete dunk fest, highlighted by freshman Dwayne Polee's crowd-igniting windmill jam.

I interviewed senior star D.J. Kennedy after the scrimmage. He clearly wanted to watch the Slam Dunk contest much more than he wanted to be interviewed by me, but he was a good sport about it. His eyes kept straying toward the court where Polee, Horne, and Quincy Roberts were duking it out. I had to tap him and pull on his jersey a few times to get his attention directed back toward the camera.

I got done just in time to see Polee score a zero on his final dunk followed by Horne throwing down a between-the-legs, tomahawk jam that got the crowd on its feet.

Kennedy had picked his buddy Horne, a fellow senior, to win the contest instead of the freshman sensation Polee, who was everyone else's favorite. As it turned out, Kennedy was right. Call it experienced intuition.

Horne won by a wide margin. When I spoke to him afterward, he was all smiles as he told me that he had no plan to do the dunk. Really, he just took off and did it.

If that kind of spontaneity and luck is a sign of success to come for the Red Storm, then we're in for a wild and exciting ride.

For more Sports in Review by Susan Shan, please visit www.SusanShan.com.

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