Johnny Thunderbird

Continuing trend of rappelling down buildings, St. John’s mascot goes down 470 ft. for cancer research

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First it was Rutgers coach Mike Rice rappelling down a building to raise money for cancer, and now it’s St. John’s mascot Johnny Thunderbird, the oversized red hawk, who dropped 470 feet for the cause.

The Thunderbird scaled down the side of the Harborside Financial Plaza building in Jersey City, N.J., alongside Salvatore J. Cassano, commissioner of the New York Fire Department, NBC Today Show member Sara Haines, television reporter Tina Cervasio, and radio personality Greg T.

“It was an honor and a privilege to rappel in support of the American Cancer Society’s continuing battle against this terrible disease,” “said” Johnny in a statement. “Even though safety regulations wouldn’t allow me to fly, I still feel like I added some thunder to such an awesome event.”

Supporting cancer research is a topic that closely affects the St. John’s program, as head coach Steve Lavin missed the majority of the 2011-12 season recovering from successful prostate cancer surgery.

He will be back on the sidelines for the 2012-13 season with another young Red Storm team that is looking to improve on a 13-19 record from a year ago.

Lavin brings in another strong recruiting class, led by post-grad JaKarr Sampson of Brewster Academy (N.H.), as well as shot-blocker Chris Obekpa and Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch, who will be eligible in December.

St. John’s opens its season on Nov. 13 against Detroit.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.