Although the team, which currently has a record of 10-6, 0-4 in the Big East, is still missing starting guard Marcus Lovett, their second-best scorer from last season, due to a knee injury, the team is making no excuses for their recent skid.
Head coach Chris Mullin is especially not.
“We have to be more physical, that’s clear as day,” Mullin said after the team lost to DePaul, 91-74, at Carnesecca Arena this past Saturday. “We have to be tougher and more physical, whether it be loose balls, rebounds, 50-50 balls, you name it. We’ve shown we can do that and when we don’t, we get manhandled. I don’t really think it’s that complicated.”
Mullin and the Red Storm were as close as six points to DePaul with 8:21 left in the game, trailing 68-62. St. John’s was then outscored 23-12 the rest of the way, and were down by as many as 19 at one point.
“When you get demoralized like that, nothing is going to look good,” Mullin added. “It’s disappointing, no question. We all watched it, we saw what happened. Now it’s up to us to change it.”
Three days earlier, the Red Storm were outlasted by Creighton, 78-71, on the road in Omaha. The Storm also have a home blowout defeat to Providence, 94-72, and a thriller of a loss to nationally ranked Seton Hall in New Jersey, 75-70, on their Big East resume.
“We’re not playing for each other right now, I think that’s the biggest thing,” said junior forward Marvin Clark II, who is averaging 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game this season. “It starts with our demeanor. DePaul came in here and out-rebounded us, punked us, and they got it going early. From there on, everybody was for themselves. You can’t win like that.”
Against the Blue Demons, Bashir Ahmed led St. John’s with 21 points on an efficient 7-of-14 shooting display, which included a 3-of-7 showing from three-point range.
Star sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds, who returned on Wednesday for the Red Storm’s match-up at Creighton after missing the Seton Hall game to a minor right knee injury, struggled from the floor this past week.
The Brooklyn native has shot 12-of-38 from the floor and 2-of-16 from deep since coming back from injury, scoring 12 and 15 points in each loss.
At 19.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game, Ponds ranks as one of the premier players in the Big East, but the team is still missing Lovett, who hasn’t played since November 26 against the University of Central Florida.
Lovett averaged 14.9 points in seven games, and shot 38.5 percent from three, making him the team’s second go-to option on offense. As a redshirt freshman, Lovett posted 15.9 points while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from downtown.
Both Ponds and Lovett were unanimous All-Freshman Team selections in the Big East last season.
With Lovett still out for the time being, the Red Storm have Georgetown next on the ledger. The Hoyas are coached by Knick legend Patrick Ewing, who was scheduled to make a return to his Madison Square Garden stomping grounds on January 9.
Later in the week, the Red Storm host the Villanova Wildcats in the same venue. The Wildcats, who are two years removed from a national championship, will enter as the number-one team in the country.