St. John’s Basketball: Shocking the World One Upset at a Time

January 20th. Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. The St. John’s Red Storm appeared to be on their way to their first Big East Conference win, until Marcus Derrickson buried a three with 3.9 seconds left to force overtime. Georgetown would go on to win in the extra period and the Johnnies were still winless.

Fast forward two weeks and that same team has had maybe the best five day stretch in the history of college basketball. Chris Mullin and his team knocked off the number one ranked Villanova Wildcats Wednesday night, in Philadelphia. The Wildcats were without Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, but they still should have had no problem at home against a St John’s team that was 0-11 in Big East games this season. But they did.
The upset over #1 came just days after the Red Storm took down the #4 ranked Duke Blue Devils inside Madison Square Garden. Duke has had their struggles this year, and St. John’s does play well at MSG, but still should not have given Duke so many issues. They still have the likely first pick in the NBA Draft, as well as two or three more future pros. But they struggled too. With the streak the Storm have been on the question has to be asked:

Has there been better back-to-back upsets ever in the NCAA?

The first team that comes to mind is the 2006 George Mason team and their magical run through the NCAA Tournament. That team had some improbable wins to say the least. They beat a UNC team with Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. They also knocked off a UConn team with Rudy Gay and Josh Boone that was favored to win the Championship. Those wins weren’t back-to-back, however.

Then there was the 2011 VCU team that Jay Bilas famously ranted on ESPN saying they had no business being in the NCAA tournament. That team did beat the consensus favorite Kansas on their way to a Final Four, but no other team was of the caliber Duke and Villanova are this year.

There have been a number of upsets in NCAA history, on stages bigger than regular season games in early February. There’s Villanova over Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the National Championship. Jim Valvano and NC State took down heavily favored Houston for the title. And don’t forget that time Chaminade took down a Ralph Sampson led Virginia team. St John’s beating #1 ranked Villanova or Duke does not compare to these upsets, but combined it’s something special.

Come March these are two teams who could be #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. St. John’s won’t be there, but they’ll have wins over both them. That’s something you cannot take away. And while people make a big deal about moral victories or participation trophies, for a team that has as little going for it as St. John’s does, they may hold the title for best back-to-back upsets in college hoops history.

 

PS – This is a last minute ploy to watch Shamorie Ponds for at least a half sometime this year. He is one of the most underappreciated guards in the country because he plays for St. John’s, but he is incredibly talented. Just watch his highlights from the past two games.

Melo to Play in 8th All-Star Game, in His City

Carmelo Anthony has a chance to relish this year's All-Star Game in his city. (photo from http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2014/1018/ny_g_anthony_mb_608x342.jpg)

Carmelo Anthony has a chance to relish this year’s All-Star Game in his city. (photo from http://espn.go.com/newyork/?vid=11722567&city=newyork)

Success has not been a word tossed around the New York Knicks’ locker room much this season. The NBA’s second most valuable franchise has the second worst record in the league this year. While the overall roster may be less than favorable, one player did receive some good news last week. Carmelo Anthony was voted by the fans to start for the Eastern Conference in the 2015 All-Star Game.

Despite the struggles his team may be going through this season, Anthony’s numbers have, once again, been solid. His 24.1 points per game are good for fifth best in the NBA. He is also second on the team with 6.7 rebounds per game and third in assists with three. All this while playing on a bad knee.

Melo surprised a packed camp at Hoop Group Headquarters when he walked in during J.R. Smith's Camp

Melo surprised a packed camp at Hoop Group Headquarters when he walked in during J.R. Smith’s Camp

Always one to top towards the top of the league in scoring, Melo’s points per game average, combined with his popularity amongst NBA fans, was enough to have him voted to the starting line up for the Eastern Conference. Joining him are Lebron James, Pau Gasol and Hoop Group Alumni John Wall and Kyle Lowry.

All-Star games have become a common theme for the 11 year veteran, but this year’s game holds a little more significance. This year’s game is taking place at Madison Square Garden, the place Carmelo has called home the past four seasons.

Last season, Melo explored different options as a free agent, but ultimately decided to stay in New York. A few days later, he explained his reasoning. “A few years ago I dreamed of coming back to New York City, the place of my birth, and on February 23, 2011 that became a reality.” he said in his letter. He would add:“I am a New York Knick at heart. I am looking forward to continue my career in Orange & Blue and to work with Phil Jackson, a champion who builds championship teams. Madison Square Garden is the mecca of basketball and I am surrounded by the greatest fans in the world.”

There’s no doubt that despite the struggles of the Knicks, Madison Square Garden is still the world’s most famous arena, with one of the most loyal fan bases. With this season all but lost, some believe this is the perfect chance for Melo to lure some potential free agents to the city he loves so much. Whether he will or not, remains to be seen.

Kevin Durant is one of the free agents Carmelo may try and lure to New York (photo from

Kevin Durant is one of the free agents Carmelo may try and lure to New York (photo from

As an added bonus, not only was Anthony voted to his eighth all-star of his career, but he will also be a coach of the Celebrity Game Friday Night alongside Knick diehard Spike Lee. This year’s game will be loaded with great names, such as Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon, former NBA All-Stars Allen Houston and Chris Mullin, WNBA’s Skyler Diggins and Tina Charles, and last but certainly not least, Mo’Ne Davis.

The 2015 NBA All-Star Game is sure to be a great weekend. For Carmelo Anthony, it’s a time for him to have some fun on and off the court and welcome the world’s best players to his city.

The NBA All-Star Game will take place at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, February 15th at 8:30 pm.

2015 NBA Rising Stars Challenge

bbva
Next weekend, the NBA regular season will be put on hold temporarily for the 2015 NBA All-Star Game weekend. A weekend filled with an abundance of hype already, this year’s weekend has a little extra flare to it due to its location: Madison Square Garden.

While its culmination brings together of the NBA’s most talented stars, there is much more to the weekend than the All-Star game. Fans will pile in to the world’s most famous arena to see events such as the NBA Dunk Contest, Three Point Contest, Celebrity All-Star game and of course, the Rising Stars Challenge.

A game that gives the league’s future all-stars a chance to shine, this year’s NBA Rising Stars Challenge consists of six players that are Hoop Group Alumni. Let’s break down the alumni in the game and see how they faired in the first half of the season.

michaelcarterwilliams
Michael Carter-Williams | Point Guard | Philadelphia 76ers
The reigning Rookie of the Year is having another solid campaign in the ’14-’15 season, despite the struggles of his team. MCW is currently averaging 15 points per game and dishing out seven assists per game. The second year guard also averages 1.5 steals per game.

nerlens noel 100
Nerlens Noel | Center | Philadelphia 76ers
Noel found his way to the court this season after sitting last year recovering from ACL surgery. The center from Kentucky is an enforcer in the paint for the 6ers. He is hauling in seven rebounds per game and has 79 blocks on the season. While he has not found his scoring touch yet, he is averaging a modest eight points per game thus far.

mason plumlee
Mason Plumlee | Center | Brooklyn Nets
Mason Plumlee has had a strong second year in the NBA for the Brooklyn Nets. After coming off the bench last season, the Duke alum earned a role in the starting rotation this year, starting ahead of former NBA All-Star Brook Lopez. Plumlee is averaging 10 points and nearly seven rebounds for a Nets team that is fighting for a play off spot in the East.

Cody Zeller | Power Forward | Charlotte Hornets
Cody Zeller is a strong season starting next to Charlotte’s Al Jefferson. He is currently averaging 7.6 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. The power forward is also a good passer from the post, averaging nearly two assists per game. His production should only go up as he plays alongside Jefferson in Charlotte.

treyburke100
Trey Burke | Point Guard | Utah Jazz
Burke’s numbers are actually slightly down from last year’s great rookie season, but that doesn’t mean his sophomore season is by any means a slouch. The point guard’s averaging more points per game at the break this season (13) than he did last season. He also is leading the Jazz in assists with just under five a game.

andrewwiggins100
Andrew Wiggins | Small Forward | Minnesota Timberwolves
The lone rookie Hoop Group Alum playing in the game, Wiggins is the favorite to receive Rookie of the Year honors this year. Until Kevin Martin’s return to the team, Wiggins was the team’s leading scorer at 15.3 points per game. The rookie is also averaging four rebounds per game, three assists per game and over one steal per game. Only time will tell if he is this year’s Rookie of the Year, but for now we get to enjoy Andrew at the Rising Stars Game.

As always, this year’s Rising Stars Game will feature some of the best rookies and sophomores in the NBA. It will no doubt be an entertaining for all fans to watch. For us, we will have the pleasure of watching six alumni play in the game.The NBA Rising Stars Challenge will take place on Friday, February 13th at 9 pm EST.