QUEENS, N.Y. (Sept. 4, 2008) – An appearance in the 2008 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off, as many as 12 regular season games in "The World's Most Famous Arena" including contests against ACC opponents Duke and Miami, and 13 potential matchups against opponents that reached the postseason last year highlight the 2008-09 St. John's men's basketball schedule.
The BIG EAST released a composite schedule of its 16 member schools on Thursday, which includes opponents, dates and national television information. St. John's regional television matchups, game times and radio information will be released at a later date. All 2008-09 conference games are produced by ESPN and are guaranteed to air on regional networks in the New York area.
"Once again we're excited to be playing a highly-competitive schedule. Besides the challenges that come with playing in a great league like the BIG EAST, we are excited to be taking on non-conference opponents like Duke and Miami. We look forward to playing in the Preseason NIT, and also in the Holiday Festival with Virginia Tech, Marist and Columbia," said fifth-year head coach Norm Roberts. "Our schedule features high-caliber opponents, and we're excited about the opportunities they provide and look forward to a very competitive year."
Four starters and 10 letterwinners return for Roberts and the Red Storm in 2008-09, including an All-BIG EAST honorable mention selection in senior Anthony Mason Jr. (14.0 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game) and BIG EAST All-Rookie team member Justin Burrell (10.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
Also, before tip-off on opening night, venerable Carnesecca Arena, will have underwent a $5 million interior renovation as part of a multi-phase upgrade to the facility. A new playing surface, an overhauled seating bowl with 800 chairback seats, and enhanced ticketing and lobby areas are among the series of changes Red Storm fans will see prior to the start of the 2008-09 season.
The new-look venue debuts on Friday, Nov. 14, when local squad LIU visits Carnesecca Arena. Soon after, St. John's will head to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to the Conte Forum at Boston College for the opening rounds of the 2008 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 17 and 18). The Red Storm, which heads into the 16-team tournament seeded at No. 8, will take on ninth-seeded Cornell in its first round game. No. 4 seed and host school Boston College meets Loyola (Md.) in the East Regional opening game, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.
After heading back to Queens for a Nov. 22 matchup against Howard, it's on to the next round of the Preseason NIT. If the Red Storm wins two at Boston College, the squad moves on to Madison Square Garden over the Thanksgiving holiday for the semifinal and championship doubleheaders Nov. 26 and 28.
If the Red Storm does not advance, the team joins the remaining 12 squads for third and fourth round games on Nov. 24 and 25. These consolation contents will be played on the home campus sites of the three highest remaining seeds. Participating teams will not play any team twice and third and fourth rounds will be assigned to the most geographically compatible site possible.
Following the NIT, the Red Storm has a three-game homestand in Queens that spans three weeks. St. Francis (N.Y.) comes to Carnesecca Arena on Dec. 1, followed by matchups with NJIT on Dec. 8 and Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 14.
St. John's looks to recapture the Aeropostale Holiday Festival crown in a pre-Christmas version of the classic event at Madison Square Garden, from Dec. 20-21. The Red Storm meets Marist on Dec. 20, following a matchup between ACC foe Virginia Tech and Columbia. The Red Storm, which has claimed two of the last four titles, looks to hoist the trophy on Dec. 21.
Miami (Fla.) of the ACC makes the return trip of a home-and-home series when the Hurricanes head to The Garden just after Christmas. The former BIG EAST program will spend part of the holiday season in New York City for the meeting on Dec. 27.
BIG EAST conference play gets underway on New Year's Eve, and opens when the Red Storm heads north to Providence for a tilt with the Friars at the new Dunkin' Donuts Center (Dec. 31). St. John's plays host to Notre Dame at The Garden on Saturday, Jan. 3, for the first of two meetings with the Fighting Irish. Road trips to Pitt (Jan. 11) and Villanova (Jan. 18) sandwich a nationally-televised contest at...
The Garden against UConn (Jan. 15, ESPN/ESPN2, 7 p.m.).
Three out of the next four contests will be at one of the Red Storm's home venues. Cincinnati makes a trip to Queens on Thursday, Jan. 22, before a quick St. John's turnaround to face Rutgers at The Garden on Saturday, Jan. 24. The Red Storm makes the long trip to Morgantown for a battle with West Virginia on Jan. 28 before returning home to Carnesecca Arena to meet USF on Feb. 1.
St. John's visits Seton Hall's Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., for the first time ever on Feb. 5 for the first of two meetings with the Pirates – this one a nationally-televised 9 p.m. contest on ESPN/ESPN2. Louisville comes to Madison Square Garden on Feb. 8, before the Red Storm hits the road for the return trip to Cincinnati (Feb. 11) and a visit to Marquette's Bradley Center (Feb. 14) for the first time since 2006.
Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils head north to The World's Most Famous Arena on Thursday, Feb. 19, to face St. John's in the Aeropostale Classic. ESPN/ESPN2 will televise the 7 p.m. meeting, which marks the 11th-straight season in which the two squads have met.
Seton Hall makes the trip to Carnesecca Arena for the second-straight season on Feb. 22, before the Syracuse Orange return to The Garden to meet St. John's on Feb. 24. Late road trips to DePaul (Feb. 28) and Notre Dame's Joyce Convocation Center (March 6) are wrapped around the Red Storm's final regular-season home game against Georgetown at The Garden on March 3.
The expanded, 16-team BIG EAST Championship Tournament takes place at the World's Most Famous Arena from Tuesday, March 10, to Saturday, March 14.
In all, St. John's could play 13 regular-season games against teams that participated in postseason tournaments in 2007-08 (NCAA – Duke, UConn, Louisville, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Marquette, Miami, West Virginia, Villanova and potential NIT Tip-Off opponents Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia, Purdue, Drake and Cinderella-squad Davidson; NIT – Syracuse and Virginia Tech).
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