McQueen, McMillan standout at the Garden

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St. Peter's senior Kamaal McQueen and Jeff McMillan, a freshman at Fordham, each had stellar games in a college double header at the Garden Saturday. McQueen, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound forward from Woodside, led the Peacocks with a game-high 20 points in just 23 minutes as St. Peter's 73-67 loss to Manhattan College.

Former Bayside standout McMillan, a 6-foot-8, 250-pound forward, had 10 points and eight rebounds as the Rams upset St. John's in the main event, 68-67 in front of 8,368.

St. Peter's, a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference team located in Jersey City, reads almost like a who's who of former Queens stars. And why not? Their coach also calls the borough home.

Bob Leckie, a longtime Sunnyside resident who now resides in Belle Harbor, is in his first year as Peacocks head coach after 13 years at Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn.

Leckie is no stranger to the Garden. As a member of the St. Peter's Hall of Fame for his play as a guard from 1966-69, he was part of the Peacocks team that played in the first NIT game at the "new" Garden in 1968. St. Peter's won the game, 102-93. Four days later he was back on the famed hardwood in one of the proudest moments of the Peacocks program, as St. Peter's stunned Atlantic Coast Conference regular season champs Duke, 100-71, to reach the NIT semifinals, where they would lose to Kansas.

Leckie also coached several Bishop Loughlin games at the Garden, but that doesn't mean his collegiate Garden debut wasn't special.

"I have great memories of being here and I want to bring those memories back to St. Peter's and get here more often, turn this program around and get on the winning side then maybe we'll be invited to play here more often," Leckie said. "It is special place. It doesn't matter who comes here, from young grammar school kids who play at halftime to pros. They come here and know it's a special place. Ask Michael Jordan. There's something about this building that ignites spirits."

In the early going against the Jaspers, it didn't look like it ignited the spirits of his players, though. Manhattan jumped out to an 11-1 lead and was ahead 16-4 before McQueen got started.

First, the hulking forward scored on a jump hook in the lane, then followed with a left-handed bank shot forcing a Manhattan timeout, as St. Peter's trailed 16-10. McQueen had 10 points in just nine minutes of the first half as the Peacocks went into the break down four, 35-31. And he dominated the paint with a torn ACL.

"He's the warrior on the court," Leckie said. "He plays with reckless abandonment and he has no ACL. When have you ever heard of someone playing without an ACL? It's phenomenal."

But where is McQueen's ACL?

"It's not where it's suppose to be, I can tell you that," the former Christ the King standout said. "It's completely torn."

McQueen's performance was not lost on Manhattan head coach Bobby Gonzalez, a St. John's grad.

"For our league, you don't have too many big guys, but he's so wide, he's tough to get around and if you double team him, he's got good hands and good touch and he can pass out of the double team," he said. "I'll tell you another unique thing about him, he makes his free throws."

McQueen showed some of his passing savvy when he penetrated and dished to Rodney Rodgers, whose bucket gave St. Peter's its first lead, 58-57, with 7:52 to play.

But the lead was short lived, as Manhattan came right back to score and would never trail again, handing St. Peter's its fourth straight loss and its 16th consecutive in conference.

"The most important thing today was getting the W," McQueen said. "We need to get things moving along. As much fun as we're having and all the scoring we're doing doesn't mean anything unless you get a win."

Melvin Robinson, a former Cardozo standout, also played well for St. Peter's. The 6-foot-5 sophomore forward, who is averaging 11.0 points per game off the bench, had eight points and a game-high nine boards for the Peacocks. Jamaica resident Daryl Boykins, a freshman forward, started for St. Peter's, but the 6-foot-2 former McClancy star had just three points and three assists in 14 minutes.

In the second game, it was McMillan's chance to shine. In just his third collegiate game, and second at the Garden, the power forward had 10 points, including a huge banked hook shot from the left blocks over to cap Fordham's 8-0 run and gave the Rams a 66-65 lead with 1:39 left in the second half. It was a play Fordham head coach Bob Hill didn't think McMillan would remember.

"Something just clicked," McMillan said. "He pointed to a spot and I thought, 'All right, let me go through the motions' and it was right.

"I love the Garden. I'm 2-0, I can't complain," he added. "I feel real comfortable. I guess it's because I watched so many games here."

Updated 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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