October 26, 2011
It didn't take very long for the St. John's student section to come up with a clever chant in honor of newcomer God'sgift Achiuwa.
Students in the "Red Zone" have already taken to chanting "God's On Our Side" whenever the 6-foot-9 Erie Community College transfer blocks an opponent's shot or makes a basket. They did it during the school's Midnight Madness event earlier this month and again when he scored six of the team's first eight points in a season-opening 11o-80 exhibition victory over Division II C.W. Post on Tuesday night.
"That really got me going because I believe in God so much," the Nigerian-born Achiuwa said. "For fans to chant that, I think that was really motivating for me to start the game."
The origin of the chant actually has nothing to do with Achiuwa, according to St. John's spirit committee president Oscar Diaz. Students at St. John's have traditionally chanted "God's On Our Side" during games against fellow Catholic schools like DePaul or Providence, but Diaz said they've adapted it to support Achiuwa.
"It just kind of dawned on us," Diaz said. "It's definitely become more prominent since he got here."
The story of how Achiuwa received his unusual first name has been well-chronicled since he emerged as one of the nation's top junior college prospects last year. The Nigeria native's father is a minister, so the first name he chose for his son is a reflection of the family's devout religious beliefs.
It's a name St. John's fans are going to have to become very familiar with this season because Achiuwa is not only the short-handed Johnnies' starting center but the lone scholarship big man on their roster. Achiuwa showed promise against C.W. Post with his soft hands and ability to run the floor, scoring 14 first-half points on 7-for-7 shooting and finishing with a team-high 21 points.