Generally, 2 a.m. start times on the east coast are reserved for events like World Cup soccer matches taking place halfway around the world. In this case, though, it's merely an ESPN gimmick that had St. John's opening its season in the middle of the night. And though St. John's would lead the first game of the Steve Lavin era at halftime, fourteen unanswered points by Saint Mary's in the second half doomed the Johnnies, who'd fall 76–71 to a Saint Mary's team that reached the Sweet 16 last year but lost some key players, including Omar Samhan, to graduation. (If you couldn't stay up for the 2 a.m. start time, both the News and Post point out that the dapper Lavin wore a navy suit, white shirt, and red tie — though a conflicting AP report had him wearing a black suit. These are not details found in most college hoops recaps.) As per the graphic ESPN showed at the tail end of the game — in between all of the late St. John's fouls — the Red Storm are scheduled to touch down at JFK at 8:35 p.m. tonight, in advance of tomorrow's 8 p.m. game against Columbia.
Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images