The St. John’s Red Storm had postseason expectations going into the 2017-2018 season, as the team was entering their third season under Head Coach Chris Mullin. Star guard Shamorie Ponds was entering his second season with the team after averaging 17 points per game in his freshman campaign.
The year began very good for the Red Storm, as they beat some decent teams including Nebraska, St. Joe’s, Central Florida, and Oregon State. However, once conference play hit, disaster struck.
The Johnnies dropped 11 straight games to start conference play, including a 17 point home loss to DePaul, who is currently 2-9 in the Big East. Seven of these games were loses by 7 points or less. After a loss #5 Xavier, people laughed, as they knew Duke and Villanova were next on the schedule.
Everything was going so bad, that it was in question whether or not St. John’s would win another basketball game the rest of the season.
Then, a miracle happened. St. John’s beat #4 Duke 81-77 at the Garden behind 33 points from Shamorie Ponds. Then, another miracle happened. St. John’s beat #1 Villanova at the Wells Fargo Center. Did I mention that Shamorie Ponds dropped 26 in this one?
What a bizarre sequence of events. A defeated conference team beating 2 top-5 teams in back-to-back games? There’s no way that has ever happened before. The odds of St. John’s winning both of these games was a 0.3%. Incredible. Unreal. Unbelievable (Dickie V voice). Call it what you want.
On Saturday afternoon, St. John’s played Marquette at Carnesecca Arena. The Johnnies came in favored by three points. Marquette was a bubble team going into today, and my guess is that most people looked at that spread and laughed, thinking St. John’s wasn’t for real.
Well, they answered that question for everyone with a 86-78 win, in a game that Shamorie Ponds scored 44. The wins were no fluke. This was the potential that St. John’s had all season. Now do these wins have any sort of meaning? Probably not, but the Red Storm have 5 conference games left, and if they can win all 5, and finish 7-11 in conference, they’ll have more momentum than any team in the nation going into the Big East Tournament.
A win or two in the Big East Tournament at this point would likely be good enough for an NIT bid. Is this likely? No, not at all. It’s all theoretical, but I’m certainly rooting for a Johnnies comeback.
Here’s the remaining schedule for St. John’s:
2/24: vs. Seton Hall
2/28: vs. Butler