W2W4: 2012 Red Storm Tip-Off

October, 12, 2012
The college basketball season officially begins tonight -- the first day that teams can hit the practice floor.

It's still called "Midnight Madness," but the NCAA now allows teams to get a bit of a head-start, at a more fan-friendly hour.

We'll be at Carnesecca Arena in Queens for the 2012 Red Storm Tip-Off, which begins at 7:30 p.m. You can watch the event live on ESPN3.

Here are three things to keep an eye on:

WELCOME BACK: St. John's coach Steve Lavin is cancer-free and plans to be back on the sideline full-time this season. That's good news for St. John's fans, who will likely give him a warm reception.

WELCOME HOME: St. John's fans will get their first glimpse at several new players added to the roster since last season. That list is headlined by 6-foot-8 freshman forward JaKarr Sampson (who will wear No. 14), 6-foot-9 freshman center Chris Obekpa (No. 12) and 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Jamal Branch (No. 0). All three were ESPN Top 100 recruits -- Branch will be eligible in December, after transferring from Texas A&M midseason a year ago.

Also keep an eye on 6-foot-9 junior forward Orlando Sanchez (No. 33), a JUCO All-American who could be a key contributor right away. St. John's will certainly have more size than it did a year ago.

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: Both Lavin and new women's coach Joe Tartamella are expected to address the crowd. Both teams will be introduced, and the men's squad will participate in a dunk contest. Hip-hop duo Chiddy Bang will perform, and the even will be hosted by ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor John Anderson.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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St. John's



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