St. John’s still has work to do before they can think about the NCAA Tournament. If this sounds like a familiar narrative, it’s because it is.
This team takes one step forward and two steps backwards. That’s been their issue all season and this past week was no different. But with only two games left in the Big East conference schedule, the reality of the calendar turning to the month of March is now upon us.
If St. John’s plans on dancing deep into the NCAA’s, they need to start doing more than they’ve been doing lately. They’re 5-5 in their last ten games and all indications about them are they’re not ready to handle success.
The month of February began with a humbling blowout loss at Duke. The Johnnies were able to rebound with a huge win at Marquette. This was a strong sign of a team showing resiliency, a necessary requirement for any team with championship aspirations. The problem with St. John’s, however, is their inability to sustain the momentum to work so hard to get.
Two losses to Providence wiped away the shine from their overtime win at Butler and a thrilling comeback win over Villanova, at the Garden. This past week, the alarming trend continued.
St. John’s smoked Seton Hall last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden and appeared to finally look like a team ready for March Madness. Then they allowed Xavier to come on campus, in Queens, and walk out with an 84-73 win that left the fanbase frustrated all over again.
They’ve missed Mustapha Heron in the starting lineup. But that doesn’t excuse the rest of the team’s sense of urgency going in and out like a flickering light bulb.
St. John’s has two sides to them. There’s the side that plays fast, creates turnovers, moves the ball, and can knock down the three. Then there’s the other side. Inconsistency, too many times where they’re a step behind the opposing team, and disappearing acts by their star player, Shamorie Ponds.
It’s March and the time is now for teams to get it in gear. But St. John’s still has work to do – beginning this Sunday at DePaul. Then they close their regular season out with a rematch at red-hot Xavier.
This late in the season is a dangerous time, for a team trying to solidify their tournament resume, to be playing this inconsistently. St. John’s didn’t do themselves any favors in February. But their destiny is still in their hands.