St. John's Centennial Celebration Culminates With 100 Years Of Basketball Banquet

June 11, 2008

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    QUEENS, N.Y. - The year-long celebration of St. John's University's basketball centennial finished with a flourish at the 100 Years of St. John's Basketball Banquet on Tuesday night in Manhattan. More than 300 former players, coaches, fans, alumni and friends packed the New York Athletic Club at Central Park South to honor a century of hardwood success, and pay homage to St. John's 50-man All-Century team.

    Bruce Beck of WNBC-4 served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and along with Jim O'Connell, a St. John's alum and the national college basketball writer for The Associated Press, recapped "The Early Years" (1907-08 to 1939-40), the "Classic Times" (1940-41 to 1972-73) and "The Modern Era" (1973-74 to 2006-07) of St. John's basketball. Beck also gave a rundown of the All-Century team members from each era, many of which were on hand to receive thunderous applause from fans across the ages - especially Jack "Dutch" Garfinkel (1938-41), who represented the legends from The Early Years.

    "What a wonderful evening," said Hall of Fame Coach Lou Carnesecca, who spoke to the assembled crowd and shared reflections from a 60-plus year association with St. John's University and its basketball program. "There was so much love in the room, you could really feel it."

    "It was an evening that everyone in attendance will always remember. The 50 gentlemen on the All-Century team have contributed so much to our program's legacy. Last night was a most fitting tribute to their accomplishments," said St. John's Director of Athletics Chris Monasch.

    Three-time NBA World Champion Bill Wennington, who starred on the hardwood for the Redmen from 1981-85, represented St. John's long list of distinguished letterwinners by thanking the coaches, administrators and fans for contributing to their outstanding collegiate experiences. Other speakers included Monasch, head men's basketball coach Norm Roberts and University President Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., who praised the successful efforts of players, coaches, administrators and fans from St. John's first century of basketball, and also spoke about the program's bright future.

     

     

    Over the course of the 2007-08 season, fans from every era were invited to relive the rich and storied tradition of the St. John's basketball program. In-game ceremonies were held throughout the season feting STJ Hall of Famers, Haggerty Award Winners, Final Four participants, All-Americans, BIG EAST and ECAC champions, and former team managers and support staff. A Dec. 15 symposium took place where many St. John's legends were on hand to discuss some of the all-time greatest squads, games and athletes. Carnesecca rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on March 4 in honor of the centennial celebration.

    Throughout the year at Madison Square Garden, fans were treated to Gardenvision vignettes capturing the three eras of St. John's basketball. The full-length documentary celebrating the three eras of St. John's basketball debuted on Tuesday at the 100 Years of Basketball Banquet.

    Also making its first appearance at the centennial banquet was the 100 Years of Basketball coffee table book. Authored and complied by O'Connell and Paul Montella, the full-color, hard-covered book features 200 pages of anecdotes, rarely-seen photos and historical data spanning a century's worth of success. A definitive compilation put together for the STJ hardwood centennial, it is a "must have" for every fan of St. John's basketball. Fans can order online via the Publications Store at RedStormSports.com, and should expect 3-4 weeks for delivery.

    A dedicated 100th Anniversary Website was launched on RedStormSports.com, where all can find information on the legendary teams, athletes, coaches and moments spanning program history. Fans were also able to vote online for St. John's "All-Century Team," and more than 1,000 ballots were cast over the course of the season.

    More than 10,000 fans took home basketball centennial posters following the Red Storm's March 8 overtime thriller vs. West Virginia at the Garden, and more than 1,000 supporters received 100th Anniversary desktop ornaments following St. John's 65-62 home win over Seton Hall on March 1.

    Proceeds from the year-long celebration of 100 Years of St. John's Basketball benefit the Carnesecca Initiative. Headed by former St. John's All-American and longtime NBA star Mel Davis, the Carnesecca Initiative is the University's major fundraising venture to support the renovations of Carnesecca Arena. Early leadership gift commitments have helped to move the first phases of the renovations forward and additional gifts will be needed to complete the full vision. For information about upcoming Carnesecca Initiative events, naming opportunities in the new Carnesecca Arena, or to make a donation, please contact Davis at 718-990-2374 or by e-mail at davism1@stjohns.edu.

    One of the storied programs in the history of men's collegiate basketball, St. John's concluded its first century as the seventh all-time winningest program in the NCAA Division I record book with 1,659 wins and 831 losses. The school's .666 winning percentage ranks ninth all-time in NCAA history, while St. John's 26 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances ties for 13th. The program's 26 NIT appearances and five titles are unprecedented. Helms Foundation national champions following the 1910-11 season, St. John's appeared in NCAA Final Fours in 1952 and 1985. The program boasts 11 consensus All-Americans, 59 NBA Draft choices and 43 players that have scored 1,000 career points or more.

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