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April 4, 2003 Columns No Comments

The Morning Dish – Friday, April 4th, 2003

by Jon Gonzalez

Revenge can be so sweet, even when it’s 18 years late.

St. John’s used a superb effort from guard Marcus Hatten to upend Georgetown 70-67 Thursday night in the NIT final. The Red Storm finally gets some payback for its loss to Georgetown in the 1985 Final Four. OK, OK, maybe the whole revenge thing is a bit of a stretch (after all, this isn’t the Final Four), but even the NIT needs a storyline.

The aforementioned Hatten was hoisted upon the shoulders of the dozens and dozens of fans that rushed the court upon conclusion of the contest. For added dramatic effect, the masses even screamed “New York, New York.”

The icing on St. John’s NIT cake was when coach Mike Jarvis made a comment about how the team was in hell but now they’re in heaven. Fans rushing the court, the star player being hoisted around on fans’ shoulders, the coach comparing an NIT ring to heaven. Whoa there St. John’s, lets not start making plans for a ticker tape parade downtown. Anyway, if winning the NIT is like heaven, I wonder what winning the NCAA championship is like.

But credit must be given where credit is due. St. John’s struggled mightily during many stretches of the season. At one point they were in danger of not qualifying for the NIT, let alone the NCAAs. But the Red Storm hung tough and won an NIT championship for the sixth time. The big question is, can SJU do it again? The team returns a cast that had a knack for missing big shots and not playing consistently, so a run to the NIT is possible. But if the team decides to improve, it could be looking straight at an NCAA birth. Losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament and playing in the NIT for a chance at another championship are two things that are hard to compare. The Red Storm must choose wisely next year.

Georgetown giant Mike Sweetney lead G’town with 25 points, but the big man could not do it alone. The Hoyas had their chances late in the game, but could not make their free throws.

In the NIT consolation game, Texas Tech beat Minnesota 71-61. By the way, what is the deal with the consolation game? It only allows for
a certain team to lose twice during its stay in New York while everyone else gets to win at least once. Losing more times than anyone else in a tourney can be very detrimental to a team’s psyche.

Side Dishes

West Has More: In addition to becoming Xavier’s first All-American, David West also turned about to be the leading vote getter. Along with West, Kansas’ Nick Collison, Wake Forest’s Josh Howard, Marquette’s Dwyane Wade and Texas’ T.J. Ford also made the All-America first team.

So Long: After 17 years at the helm, Southern Nazarene University head coach Bobby Martin felt it was time to go. The two-time Sooner Athletic Conference coach of the year will assume the athletics director position at the NAIA school. The Crimson Storm was 336-222 under Martin.

Coaching Carousel Keeps on Spinning: Thursday was a day for coaching vacancies to be filled, as Ben Howland, Seth Greenberg
and Michael Perry all agreed to coaching jobs. Howland left Pittsburgh to sign a seven-year deal to coach UCLA, Greenberg left South Florida to take over at Virginia Tech and Perry, the interim coach who took over for Lefty Driesell, signed on to be Georgia State full-time head coach.

Tonight’s Menu:

• Well, maybe Matt Doherty will tell the whole world more about his shock and dismay over losing his job.

• Major League Baseball is in full swing, so it’s a good time to catch a game.

• There’s always a good game on ESPN classic.

Whatever you college hoops junkies do to fill the void of b-ball for the night, at least have fun doing it. Take care.

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