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.