CAGERS SEEM OPTIMISTIC

Ron St. John is well known or is a fixture in the basketball circles here in New York City, especially in the City University of New York Athletic Conference.

The Cardinals, as the team is called, had some up-and-down years during St. John’s-20 plus years as coach. Actually, he is in his 23rd year as coach at York, located in Jamaica, Queens.

Last fall he said that his best record came during the 1996-97 season when his team captured its first championship and in the process won 21 of 27 games. Nate Reeves was a member of that title winning team.

Now Reeves is in his 12th year as an assistant coach. Antoine Morris and Jessica Cherry are the other assistant coaches.

St. John’s had a stunning career on the court before he ever put on a York College uniform, for he grew up playing at Sheepshead Bay High School. At that time, he competed with and against such all-city and All-American players such as Bernard King, Lloyd Free, Sly Williams and George Johnson.

“I got to play one time with Dr. J.. (Julius Erving),” he recalled one day in his office at York College. “I played with and against a lot of great players. One who stood out in my mind is Al Skinner, and another played for the Buffalo Braves in the NBA(National Basketball Association).”

Is there another great player coming out of York College?

He could be Marcel Esonhume, a pre-season all-American. Last winter, in overall 31 contests, including 23-8 in the CUNYAC, he blocked 129 shots for almost an average of 4.2 a game, and took down 459 caroms for an 14.8 rpg average. These figures ranked among the top three in the nation in Division III of the NCAA. He was indeed was the talk of the conference.

He didn’t even know that he was ‘up there’ until after the season was over.

“Marcel has grown tremendous as a player and as a student,” Reeves said. “His progression is just unbelievable. I’m glad that we have one more year. He could have just a phenomenal year.”

“During the off-season he did weight training and conditioning and got stronger. In order to go to the next level he still has to get bigger and stronger. He has a chance this year to put himself up above everybody who has played at York.”

Because of his presence, the strength of his play will be the inside work of the team and speed in the backcourt. Marcel’s main forte on the court will be his rebounding.

“Defensively, we’ll play more zone than we’ve ever played before,” St. John’s said. “Sometimes a game dictates what (style) we would play. And we have a lot of new players.”

Marcel will be getting the ball from point guard Michael Edwards, a graduate of Queensborough Community College. Marcel is a jumper and finishes strong and on the defensive side and gets all the blocks and rebounds.

Marcel will lead a talented York squad this season. Besides York, other teams in the league include strong solid teams in Baruch and Brooklyn, City College, Hunter, John Jay, Lehman, Medgar Evers, New York City Tech, and College of Staten Island.

“Brooklyn and Baruch are the toughest teams in our division,” added Reeves. “Hopefully with Marcel’s leadership, he can bring us home a championship.

Everybody has been working hard. The Cardinals don’t have an easy schedule. Once point guard Michael Edwards comes around, the Cardinals can be tremendous team.

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