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 Standing Between St. John’s and 0-6 Big East Start
Seton Hall is the only thing standing between St. John’s and an unbelievable 0-6 start to the Big East season.
The Johnnies (10-8, 0-5 Big East) remain the lone winless team in the Big East and will likely have to win the Big East Tournament in March at Madison Square Garden to fulfill the NCAA Tournament expectations they set for themselves at the start of the year.
On Thursday, St. John’s will have to beat the Pirates (11-7, 2-3) at Carnesecca Arena to avoid extending their domination of the league’s basement.
“We’ve played competitively in our last three Big East games but came up short,” Johnnies coach Steve Lavin, who is in Year 4 of a six-year contract, said Wednesday. “We’ve made progress from the Georgetown game, but unfortunately you don’t always get the outcome you want to have. We feel our team is competing hard but just coming up short.”
Seton Hall is coming off an impressive 67-57 win at Georgetown on Saturday, their first win there in more than a decade. Senior wing Fuquan Edwin went for 24 points and 6 rebounds in the win.
“Seton Hall is playing really good basketball,” Lavin said . “The balance is what jumps out. [Eugene] Teague’s improved play and work down low, [Brian] Oliver shooting the ball so well, and [Jaren] Sina and [Sterling] Gibbs ability to playmake and shotmake. [Brandon] Mobley and Edwin are dynamic athletes with versatility to influence the game at both ends of the court. They have a nice balanced attack now that they’re at full strength.”
Like just about everyone else in college basketball, Willard is surprised that the Johnnies are winless in the league, but thinks they could turn it around quickly.
“Sometimes the way your conference schedule sets up can dictate how you’re playing and I think St. John’s had the second-toughest conference schedule so far,” Willard said. “They’ve played three on the road and this is only going to be their third home game….I think the only game they didn’t play well was at Georgetown, and that can happen.
“This is a good basketball team, they can get on a roll in a heartbeat. They’re well-coached. They have our full respect and none of our guys are looking past anything. This is an important game for us and it’s obviously an important game for them.”
If Seton Hall were to win, they would move to 3-3 in the league while sending Lavin and the reeling Johnnies to 0-6.
“If we can get in there and get back to 3-3 and win three road games early in the season, that’s obviously huge,” Willard said. “I think us, DePaul and Marquette are the only teams that start four of the first six on the road, so if you can get in there and get a road win that would be huge because that would be getting three road wins early in conference play.”
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.