The New York Times Sports Department revisits the subjects of some gripping stories from the past year. In March, the St. Peter’s University men’s basketball team in Jersey City, NJ became the highest seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the Round of 16. eliminate second-seeded Kentucky, No. 7 Murray State and No. 3 Purdue.
Like a shooting star that briefly lit up the sky, it was over. Just days after St. Peter’s University’s magical run to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Round of 16 as the 15th seed, coach Shaheen Holloway was introduced as the new coach at Seton Lobby.
At St. Peter’s, a small Jesuit school in the heart of Jersey City, NJ, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, players who had just shown off their talents on national television wanted to test the transfer waters. A mass exodus followed.
“Getting the job as head coach of Seton Hall was our coach’s dream, and we were all happy for him,” said Doug Edert, one of eight players to study the situation and be transferred after the decision. of their coach. He added: “We kind of talked to each other and were like, ‘Let’s go pursue our own goals. Because the team wouldn’t be the same without Coach Sha.
The move affected at least two other coaches in the region. Bashir Mason, after 10 years at Wagner, got the job at Saint-Pierre; Seton Hall assistant Donald Copeland took over at Wagner. (Both coaches played Holloway’s side at Seton Hall this season – and lost big.)
“The band’s lead singer has moved on, which he had every right to do,” Doug’s father Bill Edert said, referring to Holloway. He added, “St. Peter’s is a small middle school, and I guess everyone who was older there thought it was time to move on.
And go up. Holloway agreed to a contract worth around $2 million a year to return to Seton Hall, his alma mater, a nice raise from the $300,000 he was earning.
One of St. Peter’s best players, KC Ndefo, a 6-foot-7 shot-blocking specialist, followed him to Seton Hall as a graduate student to finish, he said, ” what I started with Sha.”
Guard Doug Edert, who achieved folk hero status during the tournament, even his mustache causing a stir, has moved to Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, where some spectators now wear St. Peter’s shirts for games . Edert was averaging 7.3 points per game in 13 games.
Daryl Banks III, who scored 27 points in the Kentucky surprise, was traded to St. Bonaventure, where he leads the team with 15.6 points per game and a game-high 34.
Hassan and Fousseyni Drame, 6-7 twins from Mali, contribute to La Salle in Philadelphia. Clarence Rupert, who started at center during the tournament, has moved to Southern Illinois, where he has three years of eligibility remaining. Matthew Lee, after three seasons at St. Peter’s, left for Missouri State. Marty Silvera went to Southern Connecticut State in Division II. Former teammates stay in touch via weekly text chat.
But don’t cry for Saint-Pierre. He went from being a university that most people couldn’t put on a map to being the face of the madness that the NCAA Tournament promises every year. University applications increased by 33%; unrestricted donations topped $2.2 million for the first time; Online orders for Peacocks gear came in from 45 states March 18-20, after Kentucky’s overtime upheaval. On campus, $47,000 in merchandise sales were recorded from March 17-24, more than double the fall semester sales.
Two of St. Peter’s games in March were among the tournament’s seven most-watched games. More than 10 million people watched Purdue’s upset, making it the most-watched Round of 16 game in over a decade. More than 13 million people watched the end of the race against tournament runners-up North Carolina. Only the semi-final between Duke and North Carolina and the national final between North Carolina and Kansas drew larger audiences.
The four games will earn the St. Peter’s league, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, a total of more than $6 million over the next six years, depending on how the NCAA splits its tournament money, Rich said. Ensor, the commissioner of the league. A $6 million renovation of St. Peter’s Run Baby Run Arena was completed ahead of the 2021-22 season. But now the gym has a blue and white banner that says “NCAA 2022 Elite 8” and lists the names of the 15 players.
Ensor, MAAC commissioner since 1988, called the Saint-Pierre race “very dramatic for the institution” in terms of its impact on the school’s profile and the media coverage it received. “For any midmajor, I think it reinforced the value of the Cinderella story in the NCAA Tournament,” he said.
A parade in Jersey City celebrated the team. Governor Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey welcomed the players to his official residence. Holloway threw the ceremonial first pitch before a Mets game in his native Queens. Ndefo did the same before a Red Sox-Yankees game in the Bronx. Holloway announced a Jets pick in the NFL Draft in Las Vegas, referring to the team as the “New Jersey Jets”.
At St. Peter’s this season, guard Jaylen Murray, whose nickname is Juju, has become the star of the team. The Peacocks are 6-6 under Mason, who says he’s sometimes mistaken for Holloway by casual Jersey City fans.
At Seton Hall, the Pirates are 7-6, with a recent win over Rutgers, as Holloway tries to mix up transfers with returning players. Ndefo has been a consistent force, averaging 7.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game with 29 blocks, among the most nationally.
As for Holloway, his goal is to go further with his new team than with his surprising old team. “I’m hungry,” he said in October at Big East Media Day. “Now I want a Final Four. I want the national championship.