St. John’s has missed the Big East Tournament for the fourth time in five years. And although the Johnnies had a less than satisfying season at 5-11 in the conference, it still finished tied for thirteenth place, just one spot out of the Big East Tournament.
So where did St. John’s go wrong? Had the Red Storm done just a few things differently, it perhaps would be playing this weekend on its home court.
1. Play Larry Wright more than 18.9 min. a game. Plain and simple, Larry Wright is the best shooter Norm Roberts had on his squad this season. And, while Wright left something to be desired on the defensive end, a team that shoots 41 percent from the field desperately needs this guy on the floor.In the 12 Big East losses this season that Wright played in, he averaged 15.7 minutes per game. But in the five conference wins Wright averaged 23 minutes. Call it a coincidence, but there’s a definite correlation there.
2. Beat DePaul at home on January 12Ah, yes, it sounds so easy. Beat DePaul. While they’re at it, how about St. John’s also beats Duke, Notre Dame and Louisville.Well, that’s not exactly what I’m saying. Although it was an early-season contest, Norm Roberts and his team had to know how pivotal the match up was, and St. John’s was at an advantage at home. The Johnnies looked like it was on its way to getting that important win with a six-point lead in the second half. But then it all went wrong. St. John’s allowed DePaul to go on a 16-0 run to take the game over, ultimately falling 60-54.DePaul got into the Big East Tournament with the twelfth and final seed.
3. Come out of the half strongerIn games versus DePaul and at Cincinnati, Georgetown and West Virginia, St. John’s overall first half deficit was a total of four points over the span of those four games. The Johnnies were tied against West Virginia and leading against DePaul while trailing against Cincinnati and Georgetown.But in those same four games, St. John’s was outscored by a total of 42 points in the second half.Needless to say, that’s a problem. Good teams pick up on what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, and they’ll expose that after halftime. The key is to change up the game plan, or simply have a backup plan should an opponent catch on.
4. Shoot consistentlyIt sounds so easy. Shoot easier. Obviously, shooting is not a light switch that you can turn on when you need it. But some sort of consistency needed to be there to reach any level of success this season. In the Big East games that St. John’s won it shot 47.8 percent. In losses that were relatively close (within the 10-point margin) the Johnnies shot 38.3 percent. That 38.3 percent mark is lower than the Big East team with the lowest scoring average for the season, Rutgers, at 39 percent. And the 47.8 percent that the Red Storm shot in its victories would be good enough for third in Big East shooting percentage. There is no doubt that St. John’s conference-low 62.1 point per game average is due to inconsistent shooting.
5. Protect the basketballIt’s hard to score the ball when you don’t have it. St. John’s was tied for the second worst turnover average in the Big East this season with 15.3 per game. It also had the second worst assist to turnover ratio at 1 to 1.3.