The Red Storm’s 86-75 loss to Providence wasn’t just an ugly game but one Chris Mullin described as a “horrible, sleepwalking performance.”
St. John’s looked like a team looking ahead to the Big East tournament while Providence was playing like a team on the brink of making the NCAA tournament. Shamorie Ponds and Bashir Ahmed combined for 40 of the 62 shots taken by St. John’s. Richard Freudenberg led the Johnnies with two assists in six minutes. And the defense couldn’t keep the Friars out of the paint.
Anyone can have a bad half. During Mullin’s freshman season, St. John’s trailed Georgetown 41-9 the first time they played Patrick Ewing. But lack of effort is unacceptable as the coach stressed after the game.
“We’re trying to keep you prepared with scouting reports and film and doing all the right drills and added the right offense in, but at some point all that stuff doesn’t matter, you gotta go play,” Mullin said. “Whether you’re tired, whether it’s noon, whether it’s three, whether it’s seven, whether you’re in China, whether you’re in Japan, you gotta play. And compete. Showing up and putting a uniform on is not really gonna get it.”
Mullin also didn’t want to hear that a possible explanation for the brutal performance was St. John’s being locked into the eight seed in the Big East tournament and not being motivated. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about, is coming to play and compete no matter what,” Mullin said. “You gonna pick and choose when you play? Kidding me? Come and compete no matter what. If we played this game out in West 4th street, go play. And play with passion and play with fun.”
Mullin had a reputation as a blue-collar player and so it’s foreign to him to see any players, especially his, give less than maximum effort.
Perhaps the Johnnies, who have lost four of five, were saving something for Georgetown Wednesday. But as a coach, Mullin certainly wasn’t looking ahead. He just hopes his players, who seemed energized to play the Friars, weren’t. Maybe it was an age gap thing, but St. John’s could’ve used Mullin-like energy.
“Maybe I’m oblivious to it, but for an 18, 19, no. I would hope not,” Mullin said. “If it is, I mean, I am out of touch a lot. I’m not a phone guy, I’m not an email guy, so I’m pretty out of touch, so that might be the case. If it is, I won’t be sitting here much longer.”