On an overcast Friday afternoon, St. John’s University honored legendary coaches Lou Carnesecca and Jack Kaiser at Antun’s, the popular Queens catering hall. It was a nostalgic afternoon of fun and great eats, and the room was filled with alumni, coaches and the honorees, Carnesecca and Kaiser.
Longtime baseball coach Kaiser and roundball coach Carnesecca have deep roots in this city and have made immense contributions to its sports history. Some 200 former alumni and scores of friends were in attendance, such as former Red Storm hoop stars Mel Davis, who was drafted and played with the Knicks in the early ’70s, and his St. John’s teammate Billy Schaeffer. They shared MC duties.
Among the former players who attended the affair were former Knick John Warren and his better half, Rhia. Also spinning tales and memories were All-Americans George Johnson, who also spent a number of years in the NBA, and Jayson Williams, another alumnus who was the Nets’ starting center for a number of years.
Attendees also brushed shoulders with Frankie Alagia and Oscar Holt, who went from starring on the St. John’s basketball team to becoming a professor at the university. Carmine Calcetti was also present and accounted for, as was present coach Steve Lavin and his right-hand man, the former Purdue University coach Willie “The Whale” Hall, who was among the great players of his era and a rebounding all-around fixture at Madison Square Garden.
Former Red Storm star George Cornegy also joined in paying tribute to coaches Carnesecca and Kaiser, as did Howie Jones, the former Boys High School hoops coach who sent a boatload of his players to colleges in New York and around the country.