Monday, June 8, 2009

I know that our fans are going to be energetic and very excited?

"When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in
the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to
you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let
your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be
secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you

USCCB - The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 6: 2-4

Contrary to popular opinion -- I am not a St. Joe's insider. I just try to be a tireless cheerleader for my Jesuit alma mater, the Ignatian Spirituality that permeates the campus, and, of course, Hawk Basketball. I had no foreknowledge of the new basketball season ticket pricing, and was not invited to be on any panels prior to the decision. In fact no one I knew was asked their opinion before hand... which is saying a great deal since I know quite a few people.

I attended the Tuesday night meeting, which I didn't think went well. I heard from friends that Wednesday morning's meeting was worse. Hawks, young and old, rich and poor, weren't happy with the decisions of the Athletic Office, although I'm sure this was expected although perhaps not to that degree.

I have a stubborn, independent streak that runs on both sides of my family; simply put I never liked being told what to do, and you might find it quite amazing that I made it through 16 years of Catholic school. If rolling my eyes was a mortal sin I would never make it to Heaven. Stubborn yet always respectful. The meeting ended with the guy from UCONN telling us that the details would be on by that Friday. Since that was two weeks ago, and the information still hasn't been posted, I'll assume that the school is refining the proposal. It is my understanding that an outside marketing company was hired to roll out this program based on what many other schools have done. Many Hawks have many issues with this new program, both the medium and the message, as I do, but we must wait and hear how it has been changed. In the meantime;

-- A donation is defined as a gift, given freely. So if you're forced to give a donation -- it ceases to become a donation. If we're not to "let your left hand know what your right is doing," why are we being graded and categorized based on our "donations"? As one Hawk told me we are no longer alums or fans -- simply customers.

-- Loyalty is a two way street. I've shown my loyalty in many ways, but in particular renewing my season tickets that I've had for the last 18 years. Now they are being taken away from me. Spin it how you will -- I had I, 6, 5&6 for two decades and had no intention of ever giving them up. Now the institution I wrote to the check to annually is taking them from me, and giving them to the highest bidder. I don't like that.

-- Non-alums When SJU couldn't find 3,200 alums to buy season tickets they were happy to have SJU fans buy season tickets. Now with the new point system they will also be penalized (or not rewarded) despite their loyalty. Someday the school might wish to have them back, if they'd come.

-- I feel the young alumni are getting the muddy end of the stick regarding the point system -- since they haven't been around long enough to accumulate many points. I would have thought that quite a few of those new seats could have been reserved for them (at a cheaper price) in the back of the current student section. Cheers could move from back to front, and front to back, and there recent alums could educate the new kids on our traditions. But again -- loyalty is not rewarded.

What to do? One poster, a non-alum who is a long time season ticket holder, who has added tickets to his package each year to get recent alums season tickets (who will remain anonymous) gave the following sound advice:

1) Suck it up, cough it up and watch the Hawks.

2) Walk

3) Whine

We've all been whining. Now the time of discernment is at hand: Pay or walk. I'm still on the fence myself.

On the bright side I traded e-mails with Leo Carlin, who older Prep and College alums would remember along with every Eagles fan. His grandson is doing much better after his cancer treatments and is attending school as normal and playing baseball, although he is scheduled for another test soon. Please continue to keep Leo III in your prayers. Below a pic of Leo with George Bur, SJ at the Prep.

I was lucky to have my picture with Leo Carlin, 5th grader, wearing the shirt of the school that he wants to attend. Leo is fighting a serious cancer but he is at Children's Hospital, a great place for that fight. We said a prayer together that God would direct the medicines to do the required work. A cheerful and polite kid. He will, God willing, thrive at Saint Joseph's Prep. ~ The Spirit blows where it will

-- On a lighter note I got a call from Matt Brady today. He and Mary are loving life at James Madison and he's happy with the team he has coming back. They live about 40 miles from campus and the boys attend a Catholic school there. Mary's dad, Mickey, of good Polish upstate stock, has been feeling the effects of age so we shall keep him on the prayer list. Matt's only visit this year will be at Drexel so if anyone is interested maybe we can get a posse together and see how 'the shootist' and the pride of South Jersey/ St. Rose / Paul VI is doing.

Following the nice interview with Phil are comments from the Faithful.



Five Questions: Saint Joseph’s Head Coach Phil Martelli College Chalktalk
By CCT Staff

CCT recently caught up with Saint Joseph’s Head Coach Phil Martelli to chat about the state of the SJU program. The former National Coach of the Year answered questions concerning the incoming recruiting class, life without Ahmad Nivins and more. Saint Joseph’s finished 17-15 last season and, under Martelli, the Hawks have averaged over 21 wins per year since 2003-2004 season.

College Chalktalk: As is always the case in the ‘Five Questions’ series, can you give fans a preview of the newcomers to your program?

Phil Martelli: Carl Jones is a prolific scorer, he’s thin – sub 6-foot, but he has a great ability to score the basketball. He comes from a winning program, a program that understands work. We’re really excited about having the chance to get on the floor with him.

Justin Crosgile is similar, but he’s probably a better long-range shooter than Carl Jones. He is a very, very creative passer. He’s extraordinarily quick, probably one of the quicker guys that we’ve had in the program. He scored 2,000 points in high school which takes a lot of skill. Justin comes with tremendous skill.

Carl Baptiste is a guy who’s like a Saint Joe’s player in that he’s continued to improve. He has not rested on his laurels. He’s a big frontcourt player who has the ability to play away from the basket, but is very willing to bang and make his presence felt.

CCT: A popular question, but how does your team move forward in terms of game planning and execution without Ahmad Nivins, one of the league’s all time best in the frontcourt?

PM: Ahmad gave us the ability to score in and around the basket. He was a shot blocker. And he had a great practice demeanor, so those are all areas that we have to address.

Our execution will need to be sharper and we will probably need to be a more balanced team because we’re not going to have a guy who I would see as a Player of the Year candidate. So we will need a balanced attack. We’re going to have to play quicker than we have in the past with Ahmad. I don’t think it’s a question of replacing anybody, it’s a question of retooling and revising because we will be without Ahmad.

CCT: Your squad is going to be rather inexperienced this coming season (with just Williamson and Govens as the rising seniors). Who do you expect to take a major leadership role on this team and what do they need to bring to the table in terms of leadership and play?

PM: The leadership role in my program has always gone through the seniors. Darrin Govens and Garrett Williamson need to be men on the court, they need to be men off the court, they need to be men in airports and in buses and in hotels, etc. They will set the tempo in each and every way. It will never change in this program that we will always count on our oldest guys to lead. In terms of playing, they have to continue to improve. We’re not looking at just any one guy and saying, ‘he’s the number one key’. It’s about each guy improving so that the collective group can improve.

CCT: Several times last year you remarked that offensively your team was a bit stagnant and that the half court offense, in particular, was lacking something. What will change about your offense this year compared to last?

PM: Quicker, quicker, quicker. I think that we want to get the floor opened up. We want to put skillful players at all five spots on the floor, but we do want to get up and down the floor to be in more of an attack mode. That’s going to take tremendous attention to skill work and skill development and the players have done that in the spring, and hopefully they’ll carry that into their own in the summer.

CCT: How will losing Tasheed Carr impact your team on both ends of the floor? What player(s) will be most counted on to assume the role of the floor leader, and how critical is it to identify your point guard early in the season?

PM: Point guard to me is the key position in college basketball and, right now, I’m looking at the two young kids (Crosgile & Jones) coming in as the leading candidates, understanding that their bodies may not be up to the task and the challenge of college basketball. But they’ll grow into that and I believe they have the skill set. Garrett Williamson sacrificed his own game for the last two years to play a position he wasn’t really raised playing – the point guard spot. I think we’ll ask Darrin Govens to do a little more ball handling, which hasn’t been his strength while he’s been here. But he wants the challenge and he will face that challenge.

Bonus Question: How much are you looking forward to playing in your new and improved arena at Hawk Hill? What will the arena do for the fans, and also for your program in the future?

PM: I think that it has created a buzz and last year, even though we had this wonderful opportunity to play in the best college basketball building, it wasn’t as conducive to a homecourt advantage. I know that our fans are going to be energetic and very excited and I want our team to be mean spirited in a way about defending our homecourt.

We didn’t do a great job last year, but that’s happened and not what is about to happen. And, as we go forward, the idea is to make a welcoming place and a friendly place for our visitors, but we’re going to make sure they leave with a loss.


I hope Phil is right when he says "I know that our fans are going to be energetic and very excited."

If you have not yet attended any (or one) of the meetings regarding new policies & procedures for season ticket holders as the apply to ticket purchases for the 2009 / 2010 basketball season, you may want to investigate how the University is shafting (or more applicable adjectives) this dedicated group.

We have been season ticket holders for over 18 years and have followed the Hawks faithfully through thick and thin. To implement the proposed changes ( especially in these times of deep recession), I feel that the University will loose a large contingent of Hawk Basketball support.

Given your close association with the University, maybe you can interject some sense or reason to the powers to be. I'm sure that all past and present season ticket holders will be eternally grateful for your support. Thank you for your time and anticipated consideration in this matter.

However my reason for writing this morning is to express my sorrow. Sorrow for what appears to be a definite change, not for the better, in the culture of Saint Joseph's. As anyone who knows me would tell you, I proudly let everyone I meet know that I am fortunate to have graduated from Saint Joseph's! I fear that the University is on a path that will alter the SJU experience for both current students and alumni. We are proud to state that we are not UConn; we do need a University spokesperson to tell us that represents the ideal. Likewise, if the University is asking for a three year commitment from its most loyal fans, why then does the University only give a one year commitment back. That blatant unfairness does not represent the Saint Joseph's University that I love. So yes I am writing in sorrow as the tenor of Tuesday's meeting leads one to believe that the University has already made a decision to change its relationship with it s alumni and its other supporters.

I am most interested in enjoying games with my wife and my buddies. If I do not donate a dime to this $h]tshow, I have no doubt that I will be in the house on opening night. As I commented on the blog post I'm not interested in an agreement where I pay more for Hawk tickets than I would for comparable seats to watch the World Champions of baseball play. Makes no sense. I am open to any/all ideas including selecting seats without a PSL or pooling together our resources to get 4 or 5 seats.

You handled this b-ball ticket issue with great tact. I know it must have been hard to deal with Chris Matthews and the ticket situation so close together - both tug at your two most valued heart strings - faith and Hawk hoops.

I love the saying "every refuge has its price". Hagan Arena will not be excluded. It could be worse. It could be the drug addled, murderous DuPont Pavilion, with the Noam Chomsky socialist snack bar. I'll bet you feel better already now, don't you?

What ever happened to standing in a long line over night with your friends so you get your tickets and make a few long lasting memories, too?

Hang in there. Before long they will be playing in this new, grand arena. The student section will be screaming "Let's go St. Joe's", the noise will shake the new lights, and where you are sitting will be less important than simply being there at 54th and City Line among the faithful once again.

It is unthinkable to me to ask people for a three year involuntary donation for the privilege of buying seats they may not get to sit in more than one year. If you are willing and able to renew those same seats as prices change and the required donations change too I think you should be able to purchase those. There should be some reciprocity for the loyalty shown regardless of the "flying high and flying lows" of following The Hawks.If you are paying what they ask to renew why should you lose the seat you're paying for?Let's get this right. Please let them know what you think and let's make what should be a time of great pride and joy exactly that as we get ready to open the new era.Phil spoke about a "bridge" to the new era of Hawk Hoops at the banquet. Let's build the bridge and not a moat between the Hawks and those of us who love them. The window of opportunity to give them feedback will close quickly. If you have anything to say please just don't say it here.

But SJU needs to understand it has a problem with what they are trying to do if folks like Joe Cabrey and 44 publically are not happy. Nobody could be more supportive or loyal to SJU than those 2 guys.

I know that, on my salary, there is no way that I can afford two season tickets at the price they're being offered now. Would run me over a grand, which is a significant amount of my annual income. And that's a shame. I make noise when I'm there. So do lots of other people I graduated with. Many of whom are unable to afford this block price for tickets and licenses. The young alumni are so important to the future of this program and they are currently being ignored in this process.

for what it is worth here are a few of my thoughts. 1) - the re-seating plan on a yearly basis is the dumbest idea I've heard in years. It is almost like they backed off that plan as people spoke up though. 2) - all in all the prices I think were in line with what most people expected as far as the PSLs. 3) - $30 a ticket per game is still too high 4) - I think it 3-5 years you will see a large turnover in the original 708 season ticket holders. I can see a lot dropping out - not in the 1st year but after year 2 or 3 especially if/when this team is mediocre at best. 5) - The tone of the answers during the Q&A was particularly harsh in my opinion. As the questions got asked both Nino and Katie seemed to get annoyed. If you are going to ask for our questions don't get upset when they are asked.

I think the biggest slap in the face was the absolute non-consideration of young alumni. We've constantly been hearing over the last several years that the school needed to find a way to address opening up ticket opportunities for young alumni. The points system, as presented, is just another hurdle for young alumni to try to overcome. Through no fault of their own, they have little to no history as season ticket holders and they aren't in a position to make the financial commitment older season ticket holders are.When the question was raised at the meeting, the response was basically, "it is what it is." Clearly little to no thought was given to answering this problem. When ideas such as partial ticket plans or a limited number of seats for young alumn were tossed out they were pretty much met with a sarcastic, "thanks, we'll think about it."

In talking with some knowledgeable 'nova-ites over the weekend, its my understanding that they never lose their seats so long as they pay the going rate [seat price plus contribution] in a given year. That is, they do not get bumped by some newcomer with big bucks so long as they keep paying. The newcomer relies on turnover among the ST list to create new openings. The guy I spoke with holds 'nova season tix and has connections to the 'nova athletic department [you'd know the name if I mentioned it], so I believe he knew what he was talking about.

Not to be picky, but to clarify the additonal money is not a PSL. A Personal Seat License implies a 1 time fee and generally you own the license & can resell it, that is not the case here -- the fee is a mandatory donation each year based on location.

People have EVERY RIGHT to expect more. SJU wants to treat us like customers? Then we have every right to treat SJU basketball games as entertainment dollars spent. If going to the games ceases being entertaining or the team isn't any good, as it was for long stretches last year, then I wouldn't blame anyone who bailed. I don't have a huge problem with the mandatory donation idea (though the donation levels are too high across the board to me). I do have a problem with charging $30 per ticket though - more than any other team in the city - MUCH more than some. And while we're on that subject, if the mandatory donations are different based on where you sit, why aren't the tickets? The guy sitting in the last row of the section opposite the student section is paying the same for the ticket itself than the guy sitting in the "Spike Lee" seats. I need to stop thinking about this as my blood pressure is rising.

I am "upset, angry, bitter", well maybe not bitter. I have several choices: 1) suck it up, cough it up & watch the hawks2) walk 3) whine

The problem with the current ticketing procedure is two-fold:

1. No ticket allocation for young alums - I truly believe that one of the ways to build and maintain a strong fan base is to continually allow a younger generation to participate. Current students are the lifeblood of Hawks basketball. It would be a travesty to not allow a portion of those fans to continue to express their passion post graduation. This doesn't have to be 1000 seats, but maybe 50, a small section of recent alums that will become the future leaders of SJU Athletics booster clubs. It is incredibly important, to the university and the athletics department, that young alums continue to feel a connection to their university. SJU needs to make young alums a continued part of the tradition.

2. Price - This is built off my previous point, but if some young alum is able to have season tickets, I think it is unfair to be charging such high prices combined with a personal seat license. I fear that this is potentially going to price-out many young, passionate Hawk fans. My suggestion would be to offer half season tickets (or something to that effect) to young alums to help ease the burden. Building off the previous assumption of 50 seats allocated to young alums, this would now be turned into 100 young alums still connected with the program.What has made Hawk hoops such a powerful and important aspect of many fans' lives is the Passion of Hawk fans. The Passion is what made the Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse the homecourt advantage that it was and what will make the Hagen Arena a homecourt advantage in the future. I just hope that a compromise can be made to ensure that passionate folks are able to attend games in the new Hagen Arena.

I really hope enough people send a logical and passionate message to Don and Katie. It would be a terrible shame if the end result of these upgrades made possible in part by the magical run of 2003-04 ruins the Hawk experiences for those of us who have crimson in our veins.Your comment about no longer fans but customers makes me want to vomit. The Hawk we knew may be dying.


  1. it is amazing they had years to plan this ticket rollout, and they still go it wrong. I can honestly say its what i expected; poorly communicated and not well thought through. the tone of niko and katie were disrespectful; however I think they knew right away they had a bad plan on their hands and were embarrassed. Instead of sucking it up and taking the comments, they got defensive. Quite honestly, it should be a simple process; we only have 708 ticket holders. some HS have more than that. why money was wasted on a consulting firm is strange. they will amend the plan, and some of the rough edges will be removed, but the damage has been done. the plan showed no creativity at all: a young alumni plan is missing, and a few hundered seats should of been split into half season plans, so that you always have a active customer lists waiting to move up. It would of also helped those concerned with costs. Creativity is free; you just need the right people to provide it.

  2. Tom, hello, and wow, WOW, WOW. I just made it through the latest Hawk 44. Heaps of thanks for what you do. TT, SJ

  3. Read as always your blog. Agree completely on the Fieldhouse situation. No more complaining or whining. Send us what will be in writing and we all make our choice. I had my say and the response was not so good. My wife said I was too expressive on how greed is defined. Maybe so as she is usually right.

    My son commented it's as if they have a large wait list. They do not have that as Ron Joyce told me it was maybe 250 on it.

  4. Thank you again for putting this terrific resource together. As a resident of Boston, it's a great way for me to be in touch with what's going on at Saint Joseph's. I was not aware of the new season ticket policy and just reading the commentaries posted on your blog, I sympathize with folks like yourself who are having their loyalties tested.

    How friendly are you with Matt Brady? My seventeen year-old daughter and I visited James Madison this spring and she really liked it. Doesn't hurt to know someone, right?

    I enjoyed reading the commencement speech as well the story about the new Hawk mascot.

    Thanks again for all your hard work!

    Dan Mason
    Class of '86

  5. 44,

    Very nice meeting Mrs. 44. How (or why) do our ladies put up with us? We’re just glad they do, eh?

    Camera-shy isn’t in our lexicon…




  7. Great blog. I sent a very passionate letter to Don and Katie along with a sizeable donation shortly after the meeting Tuesday. Don responded within minutes saying what a great letter it was and a “believe me we hear you” and thanks for your support over the years.

  8. Tom,

    Nice job on the prayer/examen cards.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Peace Brother.


  9. Also, your blog is cool. I don't see a subscribe button. You might not be interested in this but...I am no expert but I read all of my blogs
    in google reader and it is easier for people to do so if there is a subscribe button. I think you add it as a gadget if you wanted to. It
    is, i beileve, called subscriptioin links.


  10. Well done, Tom. I like your new format, too. Keep up the great work.

    Jimmy Mack

  11. Tom,

    Thanks for the update on the New Fieldhouse. Sorry it hasn't gone the way you would have liked it to.

    Hope the season is a great success and you're at every game, though.

    Go Hawks!

    Matt Brady