In case you haven't followed what's happening at St. John's,
let's just say this: it's a big, big, stinking mess.
After playing at Pittsburgh, a number of St. John's players
went to a strip club where they met a woman, Sherri Ann Urbanek-Bach, who agreed
to have sex with some of the players for $1,000 dollars. After they had
sex with her and refused to pay her, she
charged them with rape.
One of the players recorded her threat to charge them with
rape with a video function on his cell phone, which cleared them of all charges
and got Urbanek-Bach arrested instead.
However, St. John's has basically cleaned house, and now is
down to eight players, and four of those are walk-ons.
The New York Times has an article posted harshly
criticizing the President of St. John's, a man you may recall who has earned
the nickname "Father Steinbrenner." Father Harrington, as he is
more generally known, has not yet involved himself in this, but since he has
taken such an active role in the basketball program, he probably should.
The whole thing, obviously, is just a terribly depressing mess
for everyone involved. For Urbanek-Bach, a flight attendant who was laid
off earlier this year, her life has gone from bad to immeasurably worse.
The worst of it of course is being charged with prostitution and
extortion. Not far behind that though is the vast public dissemination of
this story and her actions.
For the players, they're not playing, and even though they
stunk this year after everything else that's happened, including Mike Jarvis
getting fired, what do you do if you're a basketball player and can't
For St. John's, a school which has deep and proud roots in New
York hoops, and which has been a force in Catholic education for decades, this
is a thorough disaster. Aside from the obvious humiliation of a sex
scandal at a religious school, this will likely complicate their search for a
They can't afford to take a chance on someone mildly
distasteful, like John Calipari, and a lot of more prominent coaches will be
disinclined to involve themselves in this mess. More than likely, they'll
have to scour the ranks of smaller schools in the area, or find a coach who is
not getting much love from his current school. They are to an extent
limited to guys who have strong New York roots, because St. John's, wonderful
though it is, has a limited appeal nationally. It's a commuter school, and
you'd have a hard time, say, getting Raymond Felton to consider moving from
rural South Carolina to an apartment in NYC. His parents would have likely
freaked, as a lot of parents from the rest of the country might have.
They may be able to get Pete Gillen, if they want him, or
possibly an up-and-comer like Bobby Gonzalez, who will get a big-time job soon
enough. Or, for a slightly different possibility: he's tanned, he's
rested, he's New York through and through: Bobby Cremins. He could
definitely recruit the city, he's got a nice resume, and he's probably
bored. On top of that, he's a turn-around artist and an all around nice
guy. They'd be lucky to get him, and could do much, much worse.