After a blistering 11-1 start in non-conference play, the Red Storm have gone winless in three games against Big East opponents, although they find different ways to get it done.
They’ve lost one on the road, one at Carnesecca Arena and one at Madison Square Garden. They’ve lost two games by double-digits and one by four points. D’Angelo Harrison and Sir’Dominic Pointer have fouled out of two games. Ballyhooed guard Rysheed Jordan has more turnovers than assists in the two conference games he played in.
After losses to Seton Hall and Butler, the Johnnies took on No. 8 Villanova at MSG.
“This is the biggest game of my career right here,” said senior guard Phil Greene IV, the day before the game. “We’re already 0-2, we don’t want to start off 0-3 and dig ourselves into a hole.”
Greene would score 14 points to go along with Harrison’s 25, but the Red Storm gave up 56 second-half points to the Wildcats and lost 90-72.
“There are no easy games in this conference, so unless you play at a high level for 40 minutes, you are not going to be in position to win,” Steve Lavin said after Tuesday’s loss. “And even when you play well, it doesn’t guarantee a win.”
St. John’s led 54-52 in the second half before the wheels fell off.
“They just went on a run and that’s just Villanova basketball,” Harrison said.
Rysheed Jordan finished the game with two points on 0-for-6 shooting, no assists and three turnovers. He missed the Butler game because of a death in the family, although his absence has also been attributed to disciplinary action. Despite being a non-factor, Jordan played 26 minutes because of the lack of depth on the Red Storm. Lavin, who has been using a six-man rotation, may go to Myles Stewart off the bench, who has impressed the coach.
Lavin admitted that he didn’t “want to mess with the recipe or the formula” that led to the 11-1 start, but losing three straight will lead to some changes. There is urgency with a roster laden with upperclassmen and a team that started 0-5 in Big East play last season.
“We need to be productive enough in January so that when the schedule comes our way in February – we play five of seven at home- we’re in position for those games to be meaningful,” Lavin said. “You don’t want to be so far in the rearview mirror that when those games come our way, those games aren’t even meaningful.”
– David Russell