St. John’s Could Possibly Never Win Again

St. John’s Could Possibly Never Win Again

No, but seriously, what's up with SJU?
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After feasting on the bottom of the college basketball barrel, St. John’s has finally had the opportunity to play against highly competitive teams, and the results have not been promising. After starting the year 10-2 with losses only to Missouri and 16 Arizona State, St. John’s entered conference play as hopeful underdogs in an already stacked Big East conference. However, SJU has started the second half of the season with nine consecutive losses, effectively placing them in the basement of the Big East. To make matters worse, the Red Storm’s whopping win total of 0 doesn’t seem to be going up anytime soon.

When it comes to fundamental basketball, St. John’s looks uncoordinated and lost on the court. The Red Storm is ranked in the bottom 20% of all college basketball teams across nearly every statistical category including points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, and of course, wins. And while the absence of starting guard Marcus Lovett due to a left knee injury has certainly contributed to St. John’s struggles, the rest of the team simply looks absent as well. With Lovett sidelined for the remainder of the year, St. John's looks more like “Shamorie Ponds and four other guys” than a Division I Basketball team.

Coach Chris Mullin’s roster looks like a ham-fisted, slapped-together mess night-in and night-out as players who once showed promise like Kassoum Yakwe and Bashir Ahmed have quickly faded into the depths of sustained mediocrity.

With 10 games remaining over the next 6 weeks, it is not outlandish to suggest that St. John’s could lose every single contest from here on out. The bulk of SJU’s remaining schedule comes against teams they’ve proven they can’t beat, as well as teams that are nearly guaranteed to beat them. St. John’s has proven that they cannot beat, let alone compete with, 19 Seton Hall, 1 Villanova, Providence, DePaul, and 11 Xavier. And although plenty of games have looked close on the scoreboard, the Red Storm has looked consistently sluggish, sloppy, and uninspiring.

In addition to the aforementioned Big East opponents that St. John’s has already played, there are still four games on the schedule against Butler and Marquette. And while SJU hasn’t played either of those teams, it’s not hard to see that even the middle of the pack in the Big East is miles ahead of St. John’s. While KenPom.com ranks Butler and Marquette at 36 and 42, respectively, the biggest difference between St. John’s and literally every other team in the Big East is just one conference win.

With nine of the 10 bases covered for St. John’s and their quest to win just one game, the only contest yet to be mentioned is a matchup in early February at Madison Square Garden against 5 Duke. When you take reality into account, it’s safe to chalk this game up as a loss. If St. John’s looks hopeless against DePaul and Georgetown, how on Earth could they even come close to putting up a fight against Coach Krzyzewski and Duke?

According to ESPN, St. John’s is listed as the underdog in all 10 of their remaining 10 games. A team that was once projected to compete in the upper echelons of the Big East is now struggling to even compete for one single victory. When you combine a major injury to a key playmaker in Lovett with missing pieces across the court, St. John’s has looked continuously uninspiring throughout the course of the conference play portion of the schedule.

Even during the first half of the season, St. John’s looked frighteningly questionable as the Red Storm squeaked by in a few nail-biting wins over Iona, UCF, and New Orleans; teams that SJU should have beaten handily.

Things have been churning in a constant downward spiral and at this point, St. John’s would be lucky to touch the tournament with a 10-foot pole, and the closest the Red Storm will get to playing in March is the regular season finale on March 3rd against Providence. And for many fans, that date cannot come soon enough.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

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Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

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Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

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Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Taking A Step Back From My Sport Allowed Me To Be Able To Work On These 3 Things

Sometimes you need time away to appreciate the things you love.

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Since the age of nine, horses have been my whole life. Before college, I never had your typical teenage experience. My weekends were spent driving two hours one way to train with a top show barn. My mom and I lived out of our suitcases during the summers, traveling from one show to the next.

The only glimpse of the senior prom I got was through Snapchat's my friends sent of them having the time of their life, while I was going to bed at nine to make sure I had plenty of sleep to compete the next day. I even graduated early to go work for a show barn in Florida for five months. I missed out on a lot, but it never felt that way because of how passionate I was about the sport. I was all in, I loved the thrill of competing, the early mornings, the long days, and most of all: the horses. If you would have told me that I would be here writing about feeling burned out a year ago, I would have laughed.

Going away to college and having to put a bit of pause on my athletic career allowed me to take a step back, breathe, and realize there is so much more than horse shows and blue ribbons to this world. If I could instill a piece of wisdom to my younger self it would be that taking a step back at times is the best thing you can do for yourself. Here is what I learned:

1. Mental health

As many of you know, the pressure of succeeding can put a toll on anyone. I have always been extremely hard on myself, but when I was showing almost every weekend I really started to notice that I would feel upset more than I felt happy. I could win the class but still, come out of the ring criticizing myself over every little thing that went wrong. Because of this, I went into the ring nervous and doubtful. It wasn't fun anymore.

After taking a step back, I have realized that there will always be ups and downs in any sport. I now go into the ring much more confident and I come out smiling- even when it didn't go as planned. There will always be another chance.

2. Physical health

Like any sport, riding takes a toll on your body. After working in Florida for five months, riding up to 12 horses a day, I really felt like something was wrong with my back. However, I pushed through the pain, convincing myself of the quote "no pain no gain". I continued to ignore it, until one day it was unbearable.

I went to the doctor and sure enough, I had herniated my L5 disc. He told us this was completely preventable if I would have rested or taken an hour out of my day to ice and stretch when the pain started. After months of healing and being on a first name basis with my chiropractor, I have realized just how important it is to put my wellness first.

3. Relationships

Taking a step back has also allowed me to develop better relationships with myself, family, and friends. Before, I had such a narrow mind frame and would allow my performance to dictate how I treated people that day. Now after a rough day, I am much better at putting it behind me and not dwelling on it.

I have also realized that I need time to just be "still". Practicing yoga, or meditating for five minutes has made a world of a difference in my relationship with myself (yes, that is a thing).

While packing up to go to school this past August, knowing I would be taking a step back from the sport I love, I felt as though I would never ride as well as I did when it consumed my whole life. But I couldn't have been more wrong. I am now going into the show ring with a clear mind and leaving with a smile on my face.

To my surprise, it has been more than me starting to have fun again- I am riding better, and getting more consistent results than I had before. So, to all those athletes out there that fear to take a step back from their own sport, I am here to tell you that it may just be the best thing you can do for your performance and yourself...

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