Tuesday night in Queens was a celebration of sort as St. John’s took on Loyola Maryland in their home opener at Carnesecca Arena. After a long wait, Red Storm fans finally got to see one of the most talented teams in the Big East in action.
The atmosphere in Carnesecca was electric as thousands of fans packed into the small arena located in Jamaica Queens. Although it wasn’t filled to capacity, fans were loud and provided a lot of energy, allowing the Red Storm to cruise past the Greyhounds by a score of 76-55. A sign that a storm is brewing at St. John’s.
“I think the fans definitely brought it,” junior guard Shamorie Ponds said after the game. “We definitely want a packed crowd every night because we just feed off their energy, they boost us every night.”
As expected, fans were energized when junior guard Mustapha Heron stepped on the floor for the first time as a Johnnie, after transferring from Auburn over the summer. When he was introduced before the game, fans gave Heron a loud ovation. Heron didn’t disappoint, scoring his first bucket just two minutes into the game, sending Carnesseca into a frenzy.
“For my first time at Carnesecca, it was a good turnout,” Heron said after the game. “We expect every game to be sold out.”
Heron would go on to score 15 points while also grabbing seven boards in his St. John’s debut. Ponds would lead the team in scoring with 20 points while also picking up four assists.
“Shamorie and Mustapha both have good feels for the game,” head coach Chris Mullin said after the game. “They’re two really skilled, smart players.”
Some newcomers also shined on Tuesday night as well. JUCO transfer L.J. Figueroa dazzled the crowd by slamming home an off-the-glass alley-oop from Heron. That play ended up being sixth on Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays of the night.
Another newcomer who made a big impact was redshirt sophomore Mikey Dixon who dropped 13 points. Dixon also showed off his three point range, going 2-4 from deep.
“I though he played well,” Mullin said about Dixon’s performance. “He hasn’t played a game in probably, you know 15 months or so, he hasn’t been in a real game, he did a good job.”
The talent and depth of Mullin’s roster was on full display as 11 St. John’s players were given minutes in the win.
“We’re gonna need those guys,” Mullin said. “You’re never gonna know what’s gonna happen, foul trouble [or] someone gets injured, so we practice and train all our guys to be ready to go.”
As the Red Storm get ready to take on Bowling Green Friday night at home, Mullin and his team are hoping for another large crowd to help them to another victory.
“I told our guys coming in, we want to make this an impossible place to win,” Mullin said. “We appreciate that support.”