SYRACUSE — The former home of the Syracuse Orangemen was the 9,600-seat Manley Fieldhouse, which had a student section called "The Zoo."
The Orangemen have moved to the Carrier Dome, where one difference is that more animals can come to the games.
When Syracuse upset Georgetown here earlier this season, the game had to be stopped twice to clean up the oranges that had been thrown by fans. The second time, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim issued a warning over the public address system that the Orangemen would be assessed a technical foul if the fans didn't behave.
Saturday, St. John's was the intended victim in the Carrier Dome.
Even though the Redmen were ranked No. 1 in both wire service polls with a 23-1 record--13-0 in the Big East--and had an 18-game winning streak, the No. 7 Orangemen were favored by some experts. The reasoning was that they had the crowd on their side.
By halftime, when the home team left the court to a chorus of boos--some for the officials, some for the home team--the Orangemen weren't sure whose side the crowd was on.
St. John's won, 88-83, but the game was not that close. The Redmen led by 11 at the half, extended it to 15 in the second half and coasted through the final two minutes.
The loss had to have been a great disappointment for most of the 32,485 fans. It was the second-largest crowd ever to see a college basketball game at an on-campus arena. The record of 32,520 set here earlier this season no doubt would have been broken had the fire marshal not prevented the selling of more tickets.
The crowd had been informed repeatedly by the media here last week that a victory by the Orangemen would assure the university a place in history.
Had the Redmen lost, it would have been the first time that the No. 1 teams in football and basketball had lost under the same roof during the same school year. Syracuse upset Nebraska in football last season at the Carrier Dome when the Cornhuskers were rated No. 1.
But even though the Orangemen entered this game with a 19-5 record and had gone into overtime against St. John's before losing last month at Madison Square Garden, they played like a much worse team than they are.
That is why Boeheim called them back to the arena following the game for a 7 p.m. workout.
St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca just wanted to return home to Queens and rest.
Carnesecca has had a cold since the first week in January.
He began wearing the world's ugliest sweater--red, blue and brown--a week later. He since has worn it to every game, all victories in a 13-0 streak.
But the cold has a 15-0 winning streak. So who knows whether it's the cold or the sweater that's doing it for the Redmen?
Carnesecca suspects it's Chris Mullin, Walter Berry and Bill Wennington, his three most important players. That doesn't mean he's going to take off the sweater any time soon.
"It still has one or two washings left in it," he said.
That will carry the Redmen at least through the game against No. 2 Georgetown Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Mullin, perhaps the best all-round player in college basketball, had his usual brilliant game Saturday, scoring 16 points in the first half and finishing with 23.
Berry, after getting into foul trouble and scoring only two points in the first half, finished with 16. Wennington had 10 points and nine rebounds.
But the man who played the biggest role in the St. John's victory was forward Willie Glass, who averages seven points a game but made 7 of 8 field goal attempts Saturday and scored 22 points. He also had six rebounds and played outstanding defense against Syracuse's leading scorer, Rafael Addison.
Glass blocked the first two shots Addison tried, which sent the junior forward into a funk. Addison made only 2 of 11 shots in the first half. He recovered somewhat in the second half and finished with 14 points--5 of 17 from the field. His average is 18.7.
Late in the game, Mullin was announced as the game's most valuable player. He acknowledged it by shaking Glass' hand.
"You need five men to win a game," said Glass, who wears a Hollywood necklace because that was his high school nickname in Atlantic City. He also wears a Mr. Glass necklace because that is his nickname now.
"One or two men just can't do it," he said. "If three of us walked off the floor, what would they do?"
Syracuse's marquee name, sophomore guard Pearl Washington, also had an off day against the defense of Mike Moses and Mark Jackson, although Washington managed to get his 20 points.
"He was never allowed to express himself fully," Carnesecca said.
That was no problem for either coach in this game. Boeheim was hit for two technical fouls without throwing a single orange.
Carnesecca was perturbed when his team spoiled a great effort by punching out two minutes early. They blew 10 points of a 15-point lead in the final 1:38.
"That really upset me," Carnesecca said. "Of course, it would have been worse if we had played great the final two minutes and lousy the first 38."
That will give the Redmen something to work on before the rematch with Georgetown.
So will the 28 turnovers they committed against Syracuse's trapping defense.
Asked when he will begin preparing for the Hoyas, Carnesecca said, "Why did you have to bring them up? I'll think about them tomorrow. No, Monday. Oh my God, Pat Ewing. No, I'll think about them tomorrow. No, I'll be watching films of them tomorrow morning at 4 a.m."
The sweater will be resting.