Playing in the Big East tournament for the first time didn’t faze the all-freshman lineup for St. John’s. The Red Storm just ran into a buzzsaw.
After leading briefly during the opening half; the experience lacking in the 12th-seeded Red Storm (13-19) proved crucial, as Pittsburgh (17-15) ran away to a 73-59 victory in the first round of the Big East tournament. With the win, the Panthers advance to tomorrow’s second round; where they will meet Georgetown, while the long season endured by the Red Storm comes to a halt on their home court of Madison Square Garden.
“We had a lot of easy baskets that didn’t go in,” said assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who has filled in admirably for a recovering Steve Lavin. “The story was, we had plenty of good looks. We just couldn’t finish.”
While Pittsburgh plays on, St. John’s recovers from a trying season that we will review in our final batch of lasting impressions.
– Given the hands they were dealt throughout the season; from Steve Lavin’s health to the multiple decommitments and departures, the Red Storm did more than just survive this season. Give St. John’s a lot of credit for not only staying the course, but competing harder than ever down the stretch even though the results never panned out in their favor.
– Two positive aspects come from this loss. First, God’sgift Achiuwa had arguably his strongest outing at the Garden, grabbing a career-high twelve rebounds. Second, single season rookie scoring leader D’Angelo Harrison posted his first career double-double with twelve points and ten rebounds.
– Legendary head coach Al McGuire once said that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. Given the talent on this team and their exposure to the beast that is the Big East, nothing but great things can be expected for a bright future in New York City.
– Finally, instead of awarding a game ball, we will instead award a season MVP honor that will be shared among two deserving candidates. D’Angelo Harrison was at times St. John’s most consistent scorer, but we would be remiss if we did not mention newly crowned conference Rookie of the Year Moe Harkless. The forward from Queens capped off his dominant freshman campaign with a 25-point performance that solidified his standing as either a potential pro prospect should he go down that road, or the next big star to come from the Big East. All in all; while it could have been better for the Red Storm, it could very well have been worse, and these players should be congratulated and applauded for a job well done after their unfortunate circumstances.