June 15, 2011
QUEENS, N.Y. - Another national television date was added to the St. John's men's basketball schedule as the Red Storm will visit the University of Detroit Mercy on Monday, Dec. 5, in a contest that will air on ESPN2. The game represents a reunion for former ESPN analyst and current St. John's head coach Steve Lavin with former colleague Dick Vitale, as the Titans announced plans to name their court at Calihan Hall after their former coach, now a broadcasting legend for "The Worldwide Leader in Sports."
"It is a privilege for our St. John's team to participate in a game against the University of Detroit, in particular because it is a contest being coupled with a ceremony that will dedicate the Titans' home court floor in honor of Dick Vitale," said Lavin. "Dick is an icon and legendary hoops ambassador that clearly deserves the continued recognition for his endless contributions to the game of basketball. No one has worked harder and dedicated more time than Dick in an effort to elevate the popularity of college basketball. Our matchup against the experienced Titans in a hostile environment will provide our young team with both a challenging and valuable learning experience."
Vitale coached at the University of Detroit for four seasons (1973-77), compiling a winning percentage of .722 (78-30), which included a 21-game winning streak during the 1976-77 season when the team participated in the NCAA Tournament. He will be celebrating his 32nd anniversary of calling games for ESPN at the event. Vitale sat courtside for ESPN's first-ever NCAA basketball game - Wisconsin at DePaul on Dec. 5, 1979 (a 90-77 DePaul win). Since then, he's called close to a thousand games, including NBA contests for ESPN during the 1983 and '84 seasons. His work with The V Foundation, which was founded in 1993 by ESPN and his late friend Jim Valvano, has helped raise millions of dollars toward cancer research. Vitale is also involved with numerous organizations in the Sarasota, Fla. area.
St. John's previously announced that the Red Storm will visit the vaunted Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday, Dec. 1 on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU as part of the SEC-BIG EAST Challenge. The Red Storm will also participate in the 2011 2K Sports Classic, a 12-team event where the Red Storm, Arizona, Texas A&M and Mississippi State host regional round games from Nov. 7-11. The four hosts then advance to the Championship Rounds, Nov. 17-18, at Madison Square Garden. Championship round tickets may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 866-448-7849 or through Ticketmaster.com.
The 2011-12 St. John's squad will feature the consensus No. 3 recruiting class in the nation, but will be the youngest in 104 years on the STJ hardwood and will rank among the youngest in NCAA Division I history. With one returning scholarship letterwinner in junior Malik Stith, the Red Storm will feature at least nine newcomers, a group comprised of seven freshmen, one sophomore and one junior. STJ will look to its highly-rated 2011-12 recruiting class to assist in replacing 96.3 percent of its scoring and 97.8 percent of its rebounding in the coming season.
The first year of The Lavin Era included a 21-12 overall record in 2010-11, marking St. John's most wins since the 2002-03 season, with six Top 25 victories and four over Top 10 opponents. The USBWA District II Coach of the Year, Lavin transformed a team that finished in 13th place in the BIG EAST Conference last season at 6-12 to a squad that tied for third this year at 12-6 - only twice before has a jump of such magnitude occurred in BIG EAST Conference history. The Red Storm finished its season ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25, marking the first time it qualified for the postseason as a ranked team since 2000-01. The Red Storm, which posted a 7-1 record in eight games at Madison Square Garden (capacity: 19,353) and a 5-2 record on campus at Carnesecca Arena (capacity: 5,602) saw its home attendance climb by 38.1 percent, marking the fourth-largest increase in NCAA Division I men's basketball.
Fans can visit RedStormTix.com to request 2011-12 season ticket information, which will be available this summer. Fans can join the Red White Club by visiting RedStormSports.com and clicking on the link to "Giving" to visit the all-new Red White website.