St. John’s looking to move past brutal 80-hour stretch vs. No. 17 Marquette


It was 80 hours St. John’s would like to forget.

A last-second loss to No. 18 Creighton.

A no-show at Seton Hall.

In between, Johnnies coach Rick Pitino and guard Jordan Dingle tested positive for COVID-19.

The news has been far better since the lopsided loss in Newark, N.J.

Pitino has recovered and will be on the sideline.

The virus didn’t spread to any other players, although Dingle won’t be back Saturday at the Garden against No. 17 Marquette.

Now, St. John’s has to rebound, quickly turn the page from the 15-point Seton Hall loss in which it was soundly beaten.

Daniss Jenkins and St. John’s lost by 15 to Seton Hall. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

“We just had one of those nights where we didn’t bring it,” Pitino said. “If this team is not clicking on all cylinders from an effort standpoint, they’re going to get beat. We are not talented, tall enough, athletic enough to overcome not giving an extraordinary effort.”

As disappointed as he was by the performance — Pitino joked that he felt poorly once the game began and only worse as it continued — he didn’t want to dwell on it.

He is choosing to chalk it up as an anomaly; an evening in which St. John’s (12-6, 4-3) was outworked, out-physicaled and wasn’t ready for the challenge Seton Hall presented.

It was outpaced by 21 on the glass and was on the wrong end of a 28-0 Pirates run bridging the end of the first half with the start of the second half.

Rick Pitino, pictured earlier this season, was “disappointed” by his team’s performance. AP
With Pitino away, St. John’s associate head coach Steve Masiello led the Red Storm in their blowout loss to Seton Hall. Robert Sabo for NY Post

Pitino didn’t feel the need to beat his team down any further.

They were already hurting.

There wasn’t the usual film breakdown after a game.

“I’m not going to let one game change my opinion of who we are,” Pitino said. “They had a bad night, but we’ve had a lot of good nights. You can’t base everything on that game. You just got to throw it out, get on to the next game.”

Bouncing back won’t be easy.

Marquette features reigning Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek, dynamic guard Kam Jones and is still viewed as a Final Four contender despite a mediocre 3-3 start in Big East play.

If St. John’s isn’t ready to play, Pitino said, “Marquette is a team that can embarrass you very easily.”

His players are certain they will respond.

Seton Hall celebrates after making a shot against St. John’s in the second half. Robert Sabo for NY Post

This is, after all, a team that has played well for the better part of the last six weeks, that lost by a combined five points on the road at top-ranked Connecticut and Creighton.

That is, at the moment, safely in the NCAA Tournament according to almost all Bracketology projections.

Big East teams discounting the woeful duo of Georgetown and DePaul are a combined 22-8 at home in league play.

The Johnnies are a perfect 3-0.

“We just got to bring it tomorrow,” star center Joel Soriano said. “We are definitely upset, for sure, but I don’t think any of us have lost confidence in ourselves or the team. … We definitely got to step it up now. Overall, we got to be better.”

Said forward Chris Ledlum: “Every game matters throughout the season, but games are starting to matter even more.”

With that in mind, it feels like this could be a crossroads to St. John’s season.

It has dropped two straight games for the first time this year.

Until recently, the Johnnies had been on an upward trajectory as a team.

Now, they have hit a rough patch.

Mike Tyson once said: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

St. John’s has now absorbed multiple shots to the head.

It’s time for Pitino’s team to get up and start throwing some right hands of its own.

“We’re a good basketball team,” Soriano said. “We’re definitely going to show that tomorrow.”

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