Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Despite Blowout Loss to Villanova, St. John’s Has Hope On The Horizon
By DENNIS CHAMBERSNEW YORK — Less than 24 hours after snapping a six-game losing streak in the Big East Tournament St. John’s delivered a familiar outcome.
The Red Storm ran right into top-seed and defending national champions, Villanova, losing 108-67.
Wildcats head coach Jay Wright suggested the score of the game shouldn’t fool anybody, noting the job St. John’s did in their first-round win against Georgetown.
“I want to give St. John’s credit,” Wright said. “The season they’ve had, they did a hell of a job last night. They were a pretty beat up team, a tired team we played. I thought the game they played last night was a gutsy, old Big East game. It was pretty cool to watch.”
However, Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden acted as a potential end to St. John’s dismal displays. Picked in the Big East preseason poll to finish eighth, St. John’s fell right in line with predictions. But the manner in which they got there lead to some surprise.
St. John’s finished 7-11 in regular season conference play, with wins over potential NCAA tournament teams Butler, Seton Hall, and Marquette. Simply put, the Red Storm escaped the realm of a pushover game.
Wright even mentioned how the youth of this team could carry St. John’s in the future.
“They’ve done a great job with that team this year, a lot of young guys that are gonna be really good,” Wright said.
The young guys Wright is referring to is the freshman phenom backcourt duo of Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett.Averaging 17.6 and 16 points per game St. John’s now possesses the ability to be a consistent threat to opposing defenses. Even better for them, more help is on the way.
Next season St. John’s will add two players who sat out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. JustinSimon made his way to New York after one season at Arizona. Coming out of high school he was ranked No. 37 in ESPN’s Class of 2015 top-100.
Along with Simon, St. John’s will also add MarvinClark Jr. who is joining the team after two seasons spent at Michigan State. Clark Jr. shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc while he was a Spartan. Adding potentially another scoring punch to the perimeter for St. John’s.
Following the loss to Villanova, head coach ChrisMullin‘s coaching record at his alma mater dropped to 22-43. Despite losing nearly twice as many games as he’s won, the St. John’s all-time leading scorer has injected hope into the future of the program he once dominated.
With the offseason approaching, and work to do, Mullin has some thoughts in mind on how to get his team to next level in the near future.
“I think defensively we need to improve,” Mullin said. “I do think a lot of that will come with strength and maturity. I think a lot of people, me included, players improve a lot in the offseason. That’s the best time to do it.”
Photo: Brad Penner
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