Posts Tagged ‘St John’s’

With the liquidation of the Big East in 2013 with charter members Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and other universities bolting for greener pastures in another conference many presumed the Big East brand was mortally wounded. Many national pundits were more than willing to provide the eulogy for the once great conference has boasted about how a conference that had superstars such as Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin was not the powerhouse it once was. Yet the results of the 2016 NCAA tournament beg to differ.

First the Big East conference was able to have five teams make the NCAA tournament which is half of the conference. The five tournament participants are two more bids than what the SEC received which happens to have a total of fourteen teams. The Big East was also successful as a whole in the first round as the conference went 4-1 in the first round with only Seton Hall being ousted. Yet in the second round only Villanova was able to advance to the Sweet 16.

Villanova which conquered previous critiques as in the last two seasons Nova was unable to advance past the first weekend. The Wildcats were able to break through their own personal roadblocks and became the sole team carrying the banner of the Big East. And Villanova represented the Big East tremendously by dominating Miami 92-69 in the Sweet 16 and conquering basketball blue blood Kansas 64-59. Many of those that were proclaiming the passing of the Big East need to realize that a Big East team is two wins away from a national title.

Syracuse’s success also has validated the Big East in two different ways. First Syracuse head Basketball coach Jim Boeheim was asked to compare the strength of the ACC to the Big East. Boeheim did not answer which could be inferred to mean that one of the founding fathers of the Big East will not degrade the past just to gain some publicity for his new conference.

Second is a December game between Syracuse and St. Johns at Madison Square Garden. In that contest the Red Storm obtained a convincing 84-72 win over their arch rival. And for first year coach Chris Mullin that victory was their one shining moment and it just gets brighter with every Syracuse win in this tournament.

Entering the Big East clash between St John’s and Xavier the Red Storm found themselves in a similar position by being 15 point underdogs on their home court. Being picked as underdogs will be a recurring theme as the season progress for St. John’s since they were picked to finish in the cellar of the Big East this season. Xavier came in boasting a ranking of 10 in the AP poll and a ranking of 1 in the RPI upon their visit to the Queens campus. The Red Storm demonstrated certain characteristics that should be lauded when playing against one of the best teams in the nation. Yet as this young and malleable team moves forward for the program to reach its zenith St John’s should not accept moral victories.

The Red Storm proved to be very resilient against the Musketeers by being able to fight through two specific forms of adversity. Unfortunately the first form of adversity was self-inflicted mainly because of the horrid shooting performance by the Red Storm. Out of the gate St. John’s converted 1 of their first 13 shots and closed the first half with an atrocious 10 of 37 ( 27%) from the field.

The second form of adversity came at the start of the 2nd half when it was announced freshman sensation Yankuba Sima would be unable to play the rest of the game. Now against a very big and talented front court of Xavier the Red Storm line up became smaller. Many young and inexperienced teams would just roll over and watch as the more experienced and more talented team imposed their will on the weaker opponent. The Red Storm did not fold and quit but fought back and almost had a momentous victory at Carnesecca Arena.

While the effort and fortitude was there the victory did not come for the home team. The end objective for Chris Mullin and his staff is to build a fearsome program that is among the best in the country. Blue blood programs like Duke and Kentucky do not accept or want moral victories and only achieve their goal when they raise a banner in their respective home arena. To reach the upper echelon of basketball programs the Red Storm should adopt the same goals and the expectation should alter from having a strong effort in games to defeating any team at any time in any location.