For Brooklyn Daily Eagle

jalen-cannon-nit

Jalen Cannon and St. Francis will be fighting on to the NIT on Wednesday night in Richmond. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese.

“Let’s go Francis…boom, boom, boom-boom-boom.”

The chant, with accompanying pounding on tables, began as a few members of the St. Francis College basketball team walked into the student cafeteria-lounge at the college’s then-new  Brooklyn Heights building. It was March, 1963, the day after the Terriers were selected to play in the 1963 NIT at Madison Square Garden.

A couple hundred students were on a lunch break; the place was buzzing with anticipation of the NIT. Though a commuter campus, going to basketball games was very popular, especially in that 1962-63 season with a successful team. I was covering sports both for the student paper and yearbook.

“Let’s go, Francis…boom, boom, boom-boom-boom.”

It grew louder as more students, including team members, drifted in for lunch. Then a couple of guys at one table suddenly stand and shout, “Let’s march to St. John’s.” In those days, St. John’s University still had a Downtown Brooklyn campus a few blocks away.

Quickly, the cafeteria emptied. We walked along busy Court Street to Schmerhorn Street. St. John’s security and police prevented us from entering the building, but it was exciting enough standing outside, chanting, “Let’s go, Francis…boom, boom, boom-boom-boom.”  And, “NIT, NIT, NIT.”

After a few minutes, someone shouts, “Let’s go to the Brooklyn Eagle.” Those were the days of some eight daily newspapers in New York, including Brooklyn’s Eagle. However, all, except the Eagle, were on strike. So, theEagle was going to be the lone carrier of St. Francis’ basketball accomplishments — and this student demonstration of team support. Off we went to the paper’s Brooklyn Heights office, still chanting, “Let’s go, Francis…boom, boom, boom-boom-boom.” And, “NIT, NIT, NIT.”

Reaching the Eagle, a photographer came out to record the scene. We sang, “On for old St. Francis, on red and blue.” The demonstration broke up; we went back to classes. The team suffered a one-point loss to the University of Miami in the NIT game.

Great memories! Now to see what happens with student enthusiasm when the Terriers return to the NIT after all these years.

 

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