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St. John’s Red Storm: Is Madison Square Garden a Recruiting Advantage?

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Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

For decades it was a young basketball player’s dream to play in Madison Square Garden. Nicknamed the “World’s Most Famous Arena”, the Garden would highlight every big event in entertainment. Whether it was a big boxing event, a legendary musician, a comic, or showcasing some of the best basketball on the planet, MSG was a focal point of American culture.

Times have changed and the importance of the Garden to the country has with it. New arenas have been built making MSG feel irrelevant and old. Young players haven’t “dreamed” of playing in the Garden as much as they prefer to play for the market of New York City.

The St. John’s Red Storm is facing a similar fight in its relevancy to the nation. Once a collegiate hoops powerhouse, the Red Storm have fallen on hard times until the hire of Steve Lavin 3 years ago.

Recently I wrote about how the two, MSG and St. John’s, can become relevant together by way of the Red Storm’s success. But this isn’t the discussion today. The question here is whether Madison Square Garden is still a viable recruiting tool for the Johnnies to use to lure recruits to dress in the red and white.

The sad truth is the days of 8 year-old kids dribbling a basketball at their local court, pretending they’re hitting a game winning jumper in the Garden, are long gone.

The proof can been seen not only at the collegiate level but at the highest level of basketball, the NBA. Superstars in the NBA, especially ones under 30, during their free-agency recruitment, rarely factor in MSG while considering playing for the New York Knicks. What concerns them is the market that is New York City. In fact, the Garden is considered a dinosaur in comparison to the state of the art arenas the rest of the NBA has to offer. It’s more of a deterrence for a free-agent than a reason to sign.

Unfortunately for St. John’s, the lure of New York City as a market has a limit to the importance to a student-athlete. The reason playing in New York City is so important to an NBA player is that, in theory, because of the market size, it will add the most amount of national exposure for the player, increasing his advertising worth. An amateur player can’t except any money from sponsors, so the city does them no good. Making the Garden an even harder sell without having the city’s “market” to back it.

Essentially your pitch to an 18 year-old kid, who doesn’t care about the history of the Garden, is “Hey, come play in our out of date building, but you will be playing in New York City. Which really, if you think about it, does you absolutely no good to you. You’re a student-athlete who can’t accept money”.

Might sound harsh, but it’s the truth. Madison Square Garden only has history to offer, which is only important to people who care about that kind of thing. A recruit, who’s ultimate goal is getting to the NBA, cares more about who his coach is not where he’s shooting an 18 foot jumper.

I’m a strong believer in the mythological feel of “The World’s Most Famous Arena”, but I’m also pushing 30. I love everything about MSG. The history, the crowd, the city that comes with it.

Sadly, I’m in the minority and the recruiting tool known as “The Garden” is no longer useful for St. John’s.

Joe follows St. John’s and the Big East for Rant Sports. Follow him on the Twitter machine @JosephNardone


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NCAA Tournament Profile: St. John's Red Storm

Record: 21-11

RPI: 37

BPI: 51

Conference: Big East Conference

How They Qualified: At-Large Berth

Region: No. 9 seed in South


The St. John’s Red Storm have been a tough puzzle to solve ever since Steve Lavin took over as head coach. Lavin has recruited like a boss, but his teams simply have not met expectations. Well, his team didn’t blow us all away this year, but it will be partaking in the 2015 NCAA tournament. It is all about those baby steps.

This is the Red Storm’s first appearance since 2011. Needless to say, the team was well overdue.


What You Need to Know:

Leading Scorer: D’Angelo Harrison (17.5 PPG)

Leading Rebounder: Sir’Dominic Pointer (7.6 RPG)

Leading Passer: Rysheed Jordan (3.1 APG)

Bad Losses: DePaul, Creighton, Seton Hall

Good Wins: Providence (twice), Xavier (twice), Syracuse, Georgetown


If everything comes together, St. John’s could be one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. That may be asking for a lot, though. This team did lose 11 times on the season.

If you are looking for a player who can score at will, look no further than D’Angelo Harrison. Harrison is a senior, so you better believe he will be playing every game like it is his last because … well, every game could realistically be his last. Fun fact: Harrison has averaged over 16 points per game all four years at St. John’s — he is the real deal, folks.

St. John’s wasn’t the most consistent team in the country, so it will be interesting to see which Red Storm team shows up — the one that lost three in a row at one point, or the one that started the season off with an 11-1 record.

The St. John’s Red Storm are dancing!

Trevor Lowry is a Content Associate at If you’re a tweeter feel free to follow him @TheTrevorLowry, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

Will this finally be the year that Steve Lavin coaches his St. John's Red Storm on a deep run? Whether the case, they enter the dance with some talent.

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