Thursday, February 11, 2010

25 Years Later....

When the present sucks, you can always look to the past. And that's going to happen tonight during the St. John's -Louisville game at MSG. Its the 25th Anniversary of the greatest St. John's team of them all: the 1985 Final Four Team. Read the Daily News Article below as well as the Baldman take on that team:

SportsCollegeChris Mullin, St. John's Final Four team are still toast of New ...

Mid 80's Madness

While St. John's maintained a level of excellence from World War II to the Gulf War, the true Golden years were the mid 1980's. Those teams, those players, & those times are ingrained in the minds of millions.
The Mullin, Berry, Wennington, Jackson,Wennington, Glass & Jones Redmen teams; how can you not love them?

Chris Mullin was one of the greatest college basketball players ever. If anyone tries to dispute that,they should be sentenced to watching the WNBA for the rest of their days. Plus, people forget that when Mullin played, there was no three-point shot in college basketball. Imagine how much that would have opened up his game? Making Chris Mullin play basketball without the 3 point shot is like major league baseball implementing a rule that says "Jose Reyes is not allowed to steal bases."

Mark Jackson ended his professional career with the third most assists in NBA history. Yet, in my view, he played his best basketball during his junior & senior seasons at St. John's. He was the consummate point guard, with laser-like peripheral vision. He could run the fast break to perfection, and always put the ball in the hands of the right guy at the right time in the half court game. By his senior year,he became the ultimate double threat; he could pass, and he was a go-to scorer.

Walter Berry

"Walter Berry and Kevin McHale had the best low post moves I have ever seen." UCONN Coach Jim Calhoun to Mike Francesa Feb 16, 2009.

"When the change was made uptown
And the big man joined the band"-Bruce

"You can't handle the Truth!"- "A Few Good Men"

Before Walter arrived at St. John's, there were tons of stories on how great he was. He went to Ben Franklin High School, which closed down while he was going there. As a result, he did a year in Junior College at San Jacinto which is in Texas. You may remember San Jacinto by its other name:
The St. John's University Basketball Farm Team."

Now the hype that followed Walter was enormous; even Looie got into it. I remember him saying in Sports Illustrated "I can't wait for Walter to play with Chris. I'd pay to watch them."

Everybody did pay to see St.John's in 1984-85, the year Mullin & Berry played together . It was the hottest ticket in town. We we ranked #1 or #2 virtually the whole year,taking turns with hated Georgetown.

And Walter? He turned out to be one of the most unstoppable forces in college basketball history. I remember early on, we played the David Robinson -led Navy. Walter torched him so badly,I thought Robinson was going to get court marshalled.

But Walter abused everybody; he went left more than Obama, and as that guy advised Deniro about Tommy's demise in Goodfella's "There was nothing we could do about it."

In the golden era of Big East basketball (the mid 1980's), Walter Berry could not be checked. He only played two years ; the first,we went to the Final Four,the second, he won the Wooden Award as the nation's best player.

The only person with a similar resume is the actor John Cazale (Fredo in the Godfather). Cazale appeared in only 4 or 5 movies, but each received an Oscar nomination for best picture. (That is the only think Fredo & Walter have in common.)

My favorite Walter game? That's easy. It was down in DC, in the Capital Center against Georgetown. There was this sequence where Walter blocked three shots in a row on the same Hoya possession; each block was met with a wave of euphoria. The end result: we beat Georgetown, and the commuter school in Queens was the undisputed # 1 college basketball team in the nation.

Down goes Georgetown. To a Redmen fan, those were the three sweetest words in the English language. To the victor goes the spoils, but who knew that would include a visit from the leader of the free world?

The Prez Comes to SJU

After beating Georgetown,and becoming #1, the Redmen owned the city. It was the hotest ticket in town, and this is before most of the city had cable, so you had to go to bars to watch a lot of games.

Right in the middle of our 19 game winning streak, President Reagan decided to honor the biggest Catholic University in the nation by giving a speech on Campus. Reagan's speech was a shout-out to the Redmen, and the team gave him a replica of the famous Looie sweater.

Reagan was greeted with love and enthusiasm by the students,which was not surprising. You see, at commuter schools, the students work & go to school. There's no time for flag burning, Fidel worshiping, and senseless protests. These kids were true "Reagan Democrats" and the reception they gave Reagan touched him deeply. So much so that Reagan wrote about it in his diary. Think that would have happened at Yale?

End of the Magic Ride of 84-85

You know how the season ended; we lost to Georgetown in the Final Four. Villanova went on to beat Georegtown in the Finals. Thompson put a box and 1 on Mullin,and we could never get going. Mullin scored 8 pts., it was the first time he did not reach double figures since he was in the womb.


One quibble: why would you put St. John's and Georgetown on the same side of the bracket so they would meet in the semi-finals? They were #1 and #2 all year. Its like having a boxing tournament that matched Ali-Frazier in one semi and Wepner & Quarry in the other.

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