Home Sports ‘Unenjoyable’: Pitino rips SJU after 8th loss in 10

‘Unenjoyable’: Pitino rips SJU after 8th loss in 10

‘Unenjoyable’: Pitino rips SJU after 8th loss in 10


Following St. John’s eighth loss in its past 10 games, coach Rick Pitino lamented his team’s lack of toughness and athleticism, saying “this has been the most unenjoyable experience I’ve had since I’ve been coaching.”

The Red Storm blew a 19-point lead to lose 68-62 to tristate rival and fellow bubble team Seton Hall on Sunday night, falling to 14-12 overall and 6-9 in the Big East, which places them in ninth place. With five games left in the regular season before the Big East tournament, St. John’s likely needs to run the table the rest of the way before advancing in the conference tournament to have a chance to receive an NCAA tournament bid.

Pitino, the Hall of Fame coach in his first season with the Red Storm, didn’t hold back after the game.

“If I said I was disappointed, that would be the understatement of the year,” he said. “Our lateral quickness and our toughness is just something I’ve never witnessed in all my years of coaching.

“We are so nonathletic that we can’t guard anybody without fouling. … And really it’s not about losing. Even winning, when I watch the film, I see unathletic plays, I see people that don’t handle the ball, that are just interested in taking quick shots. It’s been a disappointing year.”

St. John’s scored just four points in the first 12 minutes of the second half, watching a 12-point halftime lead disappear without much resistance. It was the latest in a string of blown leads in recent weeks for the Red Storm, who suffered a three-point lead to Providence on Tuesday after leading at halftime, and blew a 15-point lead against Marquette last weekend.

“I think the other team makes adjustments and we have to make adjustments to move the basketball and take good shots. But we just lack toughness,” Pitino said. “We just don’t move our feet on defense. They shot 37 free throws. Throw out the stats. You see it every game. The amount of free throws they shoot, the amount of free throws we shoot. Look at what Nahiem [Alleyne] shot on the year. Look at what Chris Ledlum shot on the year. You’re a power forward, you played 29 minutes without a free throw. That means you’re not offensive rebounding, you’re not getting to the line. It’s really all the toughness things are why we give up leads.”

After replacing Mike Anderson last spring, Pitino aggressively rebuilt the St. John’s roster. Nine players entered the transfer portal, with the Red Storm adding 10 transfers and two ESPN 100 freshmen to go with just two holdovers from last season.

“I had no choice,” he said. “We just could take who we could get, who was available, we had no choice. I don’t think we were going to win the first year anyway, because when you rush like that, you don’t see the players. Not a whole lot we can do.”

St. John’s started the season with a 12-4 record, including wins over Utah, Xavier, Butler, Villanova and Providence. But the wheels have fallen off since then, with the Red Storm going 2-8 in their past 10 games to fall out of the projected NCAA tournament field. Pitino is struggling to find the right combination of players, even taking All-Big East big man Joel Soriano out of the starting lineup against Providence earlier in the week due to inconsistency.

Soriano was among the players — “about five guys are slow laterally” — mentioned by Pitino on Sunday night who struggle to move defensively. Pitino also said that St. John’s having “s— facilities” is not the reason for its defensive woes.

The Red Storm return to the court Wednesday at Georgetown, which has one win in the past two months but is a team Pitino said “can definitely beat us.”

When asked by a reporter if he had any second thoughts about taking the St. John’s job, Pitino said no.

“It’s not St. John’s, it’s my team,” he said.


Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here