“It Translates Into Visibility For … That University, Money”| Coach K Raves About Potential Impact Of Saint Peter’s Cinderella NCAA Tourney Run

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The Saint Peter’s Peacocks and head coach Shaheen Holloway have taken the 2022 NCAA Tournament by storm. The lightly regarded 2,600 student institution in Jersey City, New Jersey, was given no shot as a No. 15 seed to beat No. 2-seeded Kentucky with its intimidating tradition of excellence in March. 

Behind the inspirational leadership of head coach Shaheen Holloway, “Peacock Power” proved everyone wrong. The Peacocks didn’t have the traditional letdown that often occurs after an unheralded program pulls off an upset for the ages. Holloway’s gritty group followed that unprecedented win with another Dub over seventh-seeded Murray State.

Legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has taken notice of the Peacocks’ Cinderella run. He discussed it at length on his weekly SiriusXM show “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K.”

“I just want to mention St. Peter’s, what Shaheen Holloway has done, and his team, is worth tens of millions, maybe a hundred million dollars over the course of time for Saint Peter’s. It will transform an already outstanding university. It will give it more resources, more attention, more visibility. People do not understand completely what sports does for a school. It not only provides the spirit within the school, togetherness, but if you do really well it translates into visibility for everything in that university, and money.”

The Come-Up

Saint Peter’s won the MAAC Tournament, punching its ticket to the dance. The Jersey City school has been the darlings of March Madness, following their first two tourney wins ever. Holloway is the NY-bred leader who ran the point from 1996-2000 at nearby Seton Hall, and the team exudes his gritty character and underdog mentality.

Small schools that make significant runs in March provide a newfound visibility, exposure and revenue for their respective programs. When March Madness pops off it captivates the sports world and even the casual sports fan. Careers are made in a month. 

Butler Used The Same Platform In 2010 And 2011 To Jump Start It’s Program

In 2010, the Butler Bulldogs coached by former Celtics head coach Brad Stevens made a surprising run to the title, losing to Duke and Coach K in a close contest. 

 

That game thrusted Butler onto the national stage as they went toe-to-toe with a powerhouse program in a way we hadn’t seen during March Madness. Star forward Gordon Hayward became a household name and a lottery pick of the Utah Jazz. Hayward would go onto become an NBA All-Star. Butler’s back-to-back Finals losses created a revenue stream and attraction Butler hadn’t experienced. The Bulldogs returned to the 2011 title game again without Hayward. That’s when Butler became a program, not just a Cinderella story in March.

“I remember when we played Butler in 2010, Brad Stevens is a good friend, I said, ‘Your life has changed, but your university’s life has changed also with what you’ve done,’” Coach K reflected. 

The all-time winningest coach in college basketball history would know. When he arrived at Duke in 1980, the basketball program was middling around average-at-best. The epitome of a mid-major. 

In five years, he had them playing for a national championship, losing to Louisville in the 1986 title game. Four years later, they were in another Final Four, losing again. Eventually the Cameron Crazies broke through, winning back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992, and three more in 2001, 2010 and 2015. Those athletic achievements elevated the stature and revenue-generating abilities of the entire university. 

Saint Peter’s Is Playing With House Money: Holloway Has Changed The Culture 

As the lowest seed left in the tourney. the Peacocks are playing with house money. No matter what they do the rest of the way, they’ve put the basketball program on the national map. 

Holloway always talks about the kind of players he has and how they don’t fear anyone or anything. They embody who he is as a coach. When he arrived the program was in bad shape. All he could sell was himself and they’ve seemingly bought in.

“You got to sell what you know, and that’s me,” Holloway said. “I was selling myself. Who I am and what I’m about and what I think I can do for them.”

That type of attitude along with some efficient and tough play has the Peacocks just two wins from an unthinkable Final Four.