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.
Seton Hall, St. John's to Meet Again?; Big East Awards, Burwell to USF
More and more it looks as if Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez will get his wish of playing St. John’s in Madison Square Garden.
And this time the stakes will be much higher.
Seton Hall and St. John’s appear headed toward a first-round matchup in the Big East Tournament. That game, pitting No. 12 against No. 13, would take place at 2 p.m. on March 10. As we reported here earlier, it won’t be televised, so fans will have to either watch on the old Internet or buy tickets.
Seton Hall, which visits Louisville Wednesday, and St. John’s, which hosts Georgetown at Madison Square Garden, have split a pair of games this season, with each winning on its home court.
Gonzalez wanted the latter game played at the Garden instead of Carnesecca Arena. Instead, St. John’s beat Seton Hall 70-65 on Feb. 22 at Carnesecca after a controversial no-call when Malik Boothe clearly fouled Eugene Harvey in the waning seconds.
Gonzalez was taunted by the Carnesecca fans, who held up banners that read “The World’s Most Famous Arena” and one that pictured the Seton Hall coach with a giant pacifier in his mouth and the phrase, “Mommy, I don’t want to play at Carnesecca.”
“It’s the kids game, it ain’t about the coaches,” Johnnies coach Norm Roberts said after the game. “It ain’t about the coaches, it’s about the kids. And I also think that this is a great place to play, a great place to play. It has a name of a Hall of Fame coach, so it’s an honor to play on that floor whenever you come in here.”
If the teams meet a third time at the Garden, it could have huge implications for the postseason. If Seton Hall loses to both Louisville and Cincinnati and finishes 15-15, a loss to the Johnnies in the tournament would eliminate it from NIT consideration.
On the other hand, if Seton Hall beats St. John’s and manages to get a second win in the tournament, an NIT bid could be forthcoming.
“This is a team that can win a game,” Gonzalez said. “We’re dangerous. We play better against better teams sometimes. We certainly are a dangerous opponent if we make shots.
“I still think we belong in some type of conversation down the road.”
POTENTIAL FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS
No. 9 Cincinnati vs. No. 16 DePaul
No. 10 Notre Dame vs. No. 15 Rutgers
No. 11 Georgetown vs. No. 14 USF
No. 12 Seton Hall vs. No. 13 St. John’s
COKER SUSPENDEDIn other St. John’s news, sophomore big man Dele Coker was suspended indefinitely for failing to meet team academic standards.
“Playing basketball at St. John’s University is a privilege, and the responsibilities of our players include being students first, and athletes second,” Roberts said. “We have high expectations for our student-athletes, and there are consequences for when those expectations are not met, particularly when it concerns the individual’s academic responsibilities.”
Coker played in 28 of the team’s games, averaging 2.6 points and 2.4 rebounds and averaging 10.9 minutes per outing. He is also averaging a team-best 1.14 blocked shots per game.
MARQUETTE, NOVA BATTLING IT OUT
As the Big East season winds down, watch out for the battle between Villanova (12-5) and Marquette (12-4) for the No. 4 seed and consequent double-bye in the Big East tournament.
Villanova is coming off Monday’s 77-60 win over Notre Dame and hosts Providence Thursday in a must-win game for the Friars to make the NCAA Tournament.
“The next game is probably the biggest game of my career and everyone else’s career in that locker room,” Providence senior Jeff Xavier said after his team beat Rutgers Sunday. “I think if we win we’re definitely in [to the NCAAs].”
Marquette continues to play without Dominic James (broken foot) and must visit No. 1 Pitt tonight and then host Syracuse Saturday.
EFEJUKU, SAMUELS HONOREDProvidence guard Weyinmi Efejuku and Louisville center Samardo Samuels of St. Benedict’s Prep have been chosen as the recipients of the BIG EAST weekly men’s basketball honors through games of Sunday.
Efejuku was chosen as BIG EAST Player of the Week for the first time after he averaged 22.0 points in a 2-0 week that included an 81-73 win against top-ranked Pittsburgh. He scored a team-high 16 points against the Panthers and followed with a game-high 28 points in a 73-66 win at Rutgers. He was 6-of-7 from the floor and 15-of-17 from the free throw line against the Scarlet Knights
Samuels was recognized as BIG EAST Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season after he contributed to a 2-0 week by averaging 11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and shooting 64.3 percent from the field. He had 10 points and four rebounds in a 76-58 win at Georgetown and had 11 points and seven boards in a 62-58 win against Marquette.
BIG EAST Honor Roll
A.J. Price, Connecticut, G, Sr.
Averaged 24.0 points and 5.0 assists in a 2-0 week, which included a 36-point effort in a win at Marquette.
Earl Clark, Louisville, F, Jr.
Averaged 10.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in a 2-0 week. Shot 52.6 percent from the floor.
Sam Young, Pittsburgh, F, Sr.
Averaged 22.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in a 1-1 week. Scored 29 points in a win at Seton Hall.
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse, G, So.
Averaged 19.0 points, 7.5 assists and 2.0 steals in a 2-0 week.
Alex Ruoff, West Virginia, G, Sr.
Averaged 17.0 points in a 1-1 week. Led the team in scoring in both games, including a 16-point effort in a win at USF.
BURWELL TO USFMike Burwell, a 6-6 guard at South Kent (Conn.), has committed to South Florida.
“I just loved everything about the school, it felt like another home. I had visited Northeastern and San Diego, then South Florida. The third visit was the charm,” Burwell told the Home News Tribune.
“I really feel I can have an impact and make a difference for South Florida basketball,” Burwell said. “If I work hard, I can play right away, so that’s what I plan to do.”
Burwell is the third South Kent player to commit to a D-1 school, following Omari Lawrence (St. John’s) and Kevin Parrom (Xavier).
RECOMMENDED READING**We highly recommend the following links, including Kevin Armstrong’s entertaining piece on Tristan Thompson’s move from St. Ben’s to Findlay (Nev.) Prep.
And here are two great pieces on two former St. Anthony stars:
Ahmad NivinsTyshawn Taylor
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.