The St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team will be playing in a postseason tournament this year.
While that may seem like a shock to some in the college basketball world, the Johnnies have earned a spot in the second ever College Basketball Invitational. The appearance is the program’s first in a postseason tournament since the 2003 NIT. They will play Richmond at the Robbins Center Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Head coach Norm Roberts said his team is looking forward to the tournament, considering it an opportunity for the Red Storm to play more basketball after their embarrassing Big East tournament exit to Marquette last week in which the team scored just 10 points in the first half, a new tournament low.
“They’re excited to play,” Roberts said. “They’re eager to grow as a team.”
The CBI is a single elimination tournament made up of 16 teams that is in only its second year. The tournament consists of eight first-round games, four quarterfinal games, a semifinal round, and concludes with a best-of-three championship series.
Each game is played on the home team’s campus, and bracketing is done by the East, Midwest, South, and West geographical regions.
The first round of the tournament will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, with Quarterfinals beginning March 23.
According to the tournament’s website, teams are selected not just on conference and non-conference regular season records, but how well teams are playing at the end of the season and in their respective conference tournaments. Roberts thinks that his team’s four wins in its last seven games, in arguably the best conference in Division I basketball this year, has something to do with the selection.
“I think we played well down the stretch but came up just a bit short at times,” Roberts said.
Though St. John’s is just 2-8 away from New York City this season, it will look to continue playing basketball at the high level it reached at the end of the regular season and in the Big East tournament. “This tournament will be a stepping stone for us to get better as a team so that we will have more success in the Big East Tournament and eventually get to the NCAA Tournament,” Roberts said.
Roberts said Richmond’s play is similar to that of Big East-rival Georgetown, a team the Red Storm beat twice this season. With two sharpshooters on the perimeter who can make plays as well as a dominant big man inside, Richmond has enough talent to make Roberts think his team must play well all-around to have a chance at beating the Spiders.
Richmond finished 18-15 this season, including a 9-7 mark in the Atlantic 10. The Spiders’ most impressive win was theri 80-75 March 7 victory over then-No. 17 Xavier.
Sophomore guard Kevin Anderson leads the Spiders, averaging 16.6 points per game. Anderson dropped 29 points against Xavier. “[Richmond] played very well down the stretch going into the Atlantic 10 Tournament,” Roberts said. “We are going to have to rebound both offensively and defensively and make shots.” Among this year’s invitees are the Pac-10’s Oregon State and Stanford, Boise State, Buffalo, Houston, Wichita State, Northeastern, and Nevada.