Julian Champagnie is exactly what St. John’s needs

There’s no better basketball scene for a Bishop Loughlin High School kid than the backyard, and no better time than the first round of the Big East Tournament to lift his hometown crowd and carry his hometown team. on his shoulders until Thursday night’s quarterfinals against Villanova, at the possibility of redemption for a season where there was too little utopia along Utopia Parkway.

There were times when Julian Champagnie made the Garden sound like the Garden used to sound, the way the Garden still sounded in the good old days when Louie Carnesecca wore that sweater and Chris Mullin was the gym rat of Brooklyn that let the imagination run wild with all the possibilities.

No one expects this St. John’s team to set the city on fire, star in college basketball’s version of “The Way We Were,” and warm the hearts of everyone who remembers. of what it meant to cheer on the New York varsity team. .

But Champagnie, who had 22 of his team’s 49 points in the first half and finished with 26, showed up Wednesday night against DePaul and said hell with that scenario in a 92-73 blowout.

Julian Champagnie – 8 for 12 from the field, including Jamaica’s 3 for 6, in this first half – came in as a sharpshooter, came in with a normally assassin mindset reserved for his twin brother Justin on a night when his team somehow only committed two turnovers.

This is how stars are expected to do it, how back-to-back Big East first-team stars are supposed to do it, how big players play in the biggest games, and survival and advancement from Red Storm mean an even bigger game will be demanded of all of them, especially Champagnie, and an even bigger defense and bigger bench game, against Villanova.

Julian Champagnie dives the ball in St. John’s win over DePaul on Wednesday.
robert sabo

“We understand what’s at stake right now,” Champagnie said.

After the nervous first five minutes, everyone understood it. All played passionate defense. All shared and protected the ball. No one has understood this better than Champagnie.

Garden of the Place Champagnie.

“It’s amazing to watch him,” said Stef Smith. “You have to make sure his teammate gives him the ball.”

It’s been 22 long years since St. John’s won the Big East Tournament Championship, 22 long years since Mike Jarvis became the first coach – the only coach – since Carnesecca to uphold a once proud tradition and light a fire within of the garden.

“This weekend has not been free from controversy and conflict within our team,” Jarvis told The Post. “As competitive as the guys were, and in addition to playing together on the court, they were also combative off the court at times,” Jarvis said.

So much so that Erick Barkley and Bootsy Thornton had a locker room altercation at halftime against Miami.

“Erick was going after Bootsy about the defense, and Bootsy didn’t like it. … We almost had to play the game without our starting point guard in the second half,” Jarvis said.

Barkley decided he would take time off at the worst possible time.

“We went back to our hotel, the drama continued,” Jarvis recalled, “and we thought we were going to have to play the championship game the next day without Erick.”

There would be no shooting in the Garden.

“We went back to college and tried to heal our wounds,” Jarvis said. “We had a team meeting instead of training.

Stef Smith shoots the ball against DePaul on Wednesday.
robert sabo

In the locker room of what was then Alumni Hall the afternoon of the championship game against UConn, Barkley apologized to Thornton and the team.

“At that point we asked the team to decide whether or not they wanted Erick to play in the game or not,” Jarvis said, “and man for man as we walked around the locker room , they basically said they wanted to bring him back and join the team, and that’s when every player – including Bootsy and the coaches, the managers – everyone wanted Erick back.

The previous spring, Jarvis had taken his first team from St. John’s to the Elite Eight, where they lost to Ohio State.

“I guess years before Connecticut was buying all the tickets,” Jarvis said. “It was like a home game in Connecticut. The house was full of St. John’s fans. We had more fans in our building than we should have had than in Connecticut. The place was alive. was electric. … The only other night I remember that the Garden was this electric was probably when we played Duke.

The final: St. John’s 80, UConn 70.

Erick Barkley, Mike Jarvis and Bootsy Thorton celebrate the 2000 Big East Championship from St. John’s.
Nury Hernandez

“Everyone felt such a sense of relief,” Jarvis said.

The 2000 team defeated Northern Arizona in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Gonzaga.

“When I took the job, the Knicks weren’t playing well,” Jarvis recalled, “so you had kind of an extra burden on you because you were representing New York. For a guy with a Boston accent who was coaching at New York was sometimes difficult.

He turns 77 next month and is currently an assistant professor and special assistant to the president at South Florida Bible College & Theological Seminary.

“Louie came in and kissed the guys, kissed the guys. … It always made it special to have Louie in the house and to have Louie on the team,” Jarvis said. “The pride he always had in St. John’s was incredible.

Mike Anderson is in his third season trying to restore Pride, desperately trying to get that elusive invitation to the dance. He will need Julian Champagnie more than ever to do so.

New York Post

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