Saturday, January 24, 2015

St. John's 60, Marquette 57, and St. Francis Brooklyn 63, CCSU 51: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

New York City­ - The first time is truly exciting. Walking through the employee entrance, taking the elevator and continuing down the halls graced with memorabilia quickens the pulse. Walking onto the Madison Square Garden floor, it is difficult, make that impossible, not to notice the banners hanging from the rafters.

On Wednesday, Central Connecticut made its first Garden appearance facing St. Francis Brooklyn in a night cap. The opening game had two ‘regulars’ in Marquette and St. John’s. Regardless, wide-eyed first timer or seasoned veteran, to a player and coach they will tell you the Garden never gets old. The ‘Mecca of basketball,’ it has been called.

St. John’s won the opener 60-­57. In the 9:30 meeting, St. Francis prevailed 63-­51. Once the ball goes up, the focus is on the game. The ebbs and flows, changes in momentum, the coaches and players making adjustments with their focus on the opposition and game itself. At the end, once the final buzzer sounds, there is the reflection of having played in a hallowed arena.

In the end it is always special to get the opportunity, maybe it should be called the blessing, to be able to walk on the Garden floor and compete. Yes, the feeling and excitement never gets old.

Press row at the Garden. From left to right: Greg Logan, (Newsday) Roger Rubin, (New York Daily News) and Howie Kussoy of the New York Post. Behind them is Matt Velazquez, who covers Marquette for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Former St. John's shortstop Joe Panik, now the starting second baseman for the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants, holds the World Series trophy aloft on the Garden floor. While at St. John's, Jaden Daly had the honor of broadcasting Joe's games. (Photo courtesy of Vinny Dusovic via St. John's University athletic communications)
St. John's coach Steve Lavin discusses a point during halftime:
St. John's on the attack, looking for an opening in the defense:
Central Connecticut coach Howie Dickenman studies the action:
Despite the setback, the CCSU dance team and cheer squad enjoyed performing at MSG, and posed at center court after the game:
St. Francis Brooklyn's Brent Jones, coach Glenn Braica and Jalen Cannon meet the media:

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