The reconfigured Big East, now with seven teams from the old Big East plus Creighton, Xavier and Butler will begin play in 2013-14. The conference contains some basketball powers, including five N.C.A.A. tournament teams from 2012-13.
It looked like it was all over for St. John's.
When Steve Lavin last coached St. John's on February 8, his team defeated Connecticut to move within striking distance of an N.C.A.A. tournament berth.
Approximately halfway through their season, the St. John's men's basketball team hasn't excelled or faltered so much as held its own.(2)
Following their 68-51 loss to Georgetown on Saturday, St. John's coach Steve Lavin described his young team as a "roller coaser ride."
Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, the Red Storm proved his point, playing a strong game throughout a 67-63 victory over Notre Dame, a team ranked 20th in the latest ESPN poll.
On Saturday morning, St. John's and Georgetown faced the kind of game that helps to define a season.
It was less than a year ago that St. John's was threatening to reinstall itself as one of the most popular sports teams in New York.
Head coach Steve Lavin took a group of ten seniors where predecessor Norm Roberts hadn't, into the NCAA Tournament. As last season wore on, Lavin's team won some truly exceptional games, beating ranked teams Georgetown and Notre Dame at home in-conference, before destroying number 3 Duke to give the Red Storm their first significant national notice in a decade.(5)
After suffering a pair of difficult losses in this weekend's Big East Tournament—a 79-73 defeat to Syracuse, and senior D.J. Kennedy to a season-ending knee injury—St. John's prospects in the NCAA tournament are ... mixed. They're still good enough to make a run deep into the tournament, but their most significant challenge could be their first-round game.
The Big East Tournament begins today at Madison Square Garden with the eight lowest seeds in a 16-team league squaring off. But unlike recent seasons, when St. John's found itself in that bottom scrum (or worse, when the league only invited the top 12 finishers, shutting them out of playing on their own home court), the Red Storm received a bye.
Until St. John’s hired former UCLA coach Steve Lavin in March, it appeared the men’s basketball team, currently fifth all-time among collegiate programs in wins, had declined and fallen for good. Meanwhile, the program, which sent 59 players to the NBA, and trails just Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Duke in lifetime victories, and was built and sustained by Hall of Fame coaches Joe Lapchick and Lou Carnesecca, had become nationally irrelevant.