On January 24, 1993, a one-loss North Carolina squad invaded the Meadowlands to take on a surging Seton Hall squad. As the action wore on down on the floor, then-Seton Hall student Joe Lorenzo decided that a disproportionate amount of the sellout crowd of over 20,000 was tinted the wrong shade of blue. In hopes of spurring his team to victory, he removed his shirt and began waving it over his head, urging his fellow Pirate faithful to do their part to help turn the tide.
Though the final scoreboard indicated a four-point loss for the Pirates to the eventual national champions, that fateful Sunday lives on in Seton Hall lore for the birth of "Gyrating Joe." Lorenzo went on to become a fixture and fan favorite at Seton Hall basketball games throughout the remainder of the decade, making his mark from the stands as the Pirates were making theirs between the lines.
An unmistakable figure who put his Pirate Pride on display for all to see, Lorenzo evoked the same passion in those around him, helping create many memorable atmospheres during a period where Seton Hall enjoyed great successes on the hardwood.
After an extensive international search, SHUPirates.com tracked down Joe Lorenzo and had the chance to ask him a few questions as a part of our ongoing Where Are They Now? series.
Q: Where do you live now and what are you up to these days?
Lorenzo: I´m currently living in Madrid, Spain with my wife Meli and two daughters, Marina (age 10) and Carolina (age 8). I´m working as a Business Analyst for a large Computer manufacturer. I´ve been living in Spain since November 2000.
Q: How did your role as "Gyrating Joe" begin?
Lorenzo: It began in 1993 when the North Carolina Tar Heels came to play the Seton Hall Pirates at the Meadowlands. It was a sold out game and there were a lot of North Carolina fans making noise. I decided that this could not happen in our building so I took my shirt off and started waving it and dancing to rally our fans behind our team. It worked and from there on I became Gyrating Joe, a very vocal and visible fan to rally the Seton Hall fans behind the basketball team and to let the players know they had our full support.
Q: You were a student and fan during some very successful years in Seton Hall Basketball, any special games stick out?
Lorenzo: There were quite a few games that stuck out. Just to name a couple, the 1993 game against Syracuse to win the BIG EAST Tournament at Madison Square Garden in a snow storm. Also in 1993, Seton Hall beating a Georgetown team that had Alonzo Mourning at the Meadowlands in a very hard fought game. In 2000, traveling with the team to the Carrier Dome in the NCAA Tournament and reaching the Sweet 16 against Oklahoma State - - in that one I danced in front of 33,000 spectators.
Q: You became such a big part of the fan experience at home games and certainly brought the excitement and momentum of the crowd to another level after your appearances. Any particular performances stick out?
Lorenzo: In 1993 beating St John´s in the final home game to win the (regular season) BIG EAST title. The game was sold out and apart from dancing in front of a full house at the Meadowlands that game was a huge moment for the basketball program.
Q: How did you come up with the phrases you would write on your body and any particular favorites?
Lorenzo: The phrases were a combination of whatever came to mind just before game time and suggestions from fans. Some favorite phrases were "HALL BALL", "Oh Baby," and "This is Pirate Town." They were mostly positive messages to encourage the team and the fans. On one occasion I didn´t have a girlfriend and I put my phone number on my chest accompanied by "I´m Available"... it didn´t work. But it was fortunate since I met my wife Meli on vacation in Spain a few years later.
Q: Did you ever hear from players, coaches or athletic administrators about your performances?
Lorenzo: I used to run into players on campus like Terry Dehere, Jerry Walker and later on Shaheen Holloway who expressed approval for my performances. The biggest honor however came in 1998 when I was awarded the William J Eyres Award for being a loyal supporter of the basketball program at the awards banquet. I also had the pleasure of meeting Pirate legends Richie and Sue Regan who also gave me their approval
Q: Do you still follow the Pirates from Madrid and what are your thoughts on the program today?
Lorenzo: I do follow the Pirates very closely from Madrid. I get back to the U.S. almost every summer to visit family and of course the SHU campus. It is difficult for me to go back to the states during basketball season however which is something that I really miss. I had the pleasure of running into former Pirate great Rimas Kaukenas a couple of years ago in Spain while he played for the Real Madrid basketball team for one season. We caught up on old times, especially the 2000 trip to the NCAA Tournament. Last summer, the Seton Hall basketball team came to Spain on a preseason trip, unfortunately I found out about it late so I missed seeing them. Overall, I believe the program is definitely going in the right direction under the helm of Coach Willard and the future looks very bright.
Check back soon to see if one of your favorite former Pirates will be the subject of our next installment of Where Are They Now?
Previous Where Are They Now? Interviews
February 6, 2013
January 16, 2013
December 12, 2012
November 28, 2012
November 14, 2012
October 24, 2012
October 10, 2012
September 28, 2012
September 14, 2012