Rapid Reaction: Virginia 68, St. John's 50
March, 24, 2013
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com
What it means: A strange St. John's season has come to an end.
It finished with a 68-50 loss at Virginia on Sunday in the second round of the NIT. The Cavaliers (23-11, 11-7 ACC) advance to the third round and will host Iowa, with the winner earning a trip to the semifinals in New York.
The Red Storm (17-16, 8-10 Big East) were 16-10 in late February, right in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid. Then they were blown out by Pittsburgh at home on Feb. 24, and coach Steve Lavin suspended leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison for the rest of the season on March 1. St. John's lost four more in a row after that.
The Red Storm did win at St. Joseph's in the first round of the NIT, but could go no further.
The turning point: St. John's led 8-4, but then Virginia went on a 20-3 run -- capped off by back-to-back treys by reserve Taylor Barnette -- to take its largest lead, 24-11. The Red Storm scored seven in a row after that, five by Amir Garrett, to make it 24-18. But the Cavaliers extended the lead back to 11 (32-21) at intermission. Both Jakarr Sampson and Sir'Dominic Pointer picked up three fouls in the first half.
Virginia stretched the lead to 17 (54-37) thanks to a 9-0 run that included another 3-pointer by Barnette and two buckets by backup big man Mike Tobey. St. John's didn't fold, answering with a 9-0 run of its own -- five points by Phil Greene -- to make it 54-46 with 4:27 remaining. But that's as close as it got. The Cavaliers put the Red Storm away from there.
Star watch: Greene scored a team-high 17 points for St. John's, shooting 8-for-18 from the field. Sampson added 14 points (6-for-15). The other seven St. John's players who got into the game scored 18 points combined.
Four players were in double figures for Virginia, led by freshman guard Justin Anderson (18 points). Two other freshmen, Barnette (13 points) and Tobey (10 points), were huge off the bench.
Number crunch: St. John's shot 33.9 percent from the field (21-for-62), 12.5 percent from beyond the arc (2-for-16) and 60 percent from the foul line (60 percent). The Red Storm just don't have enough good shooters.
Virginia shot 54.5 percent from the field (24-for-44).
What's next: St. John's will play in the new Big East next season, composed of the "Catholic 7" plus Butler, Xavier and Creighton.
The question is, what will the Red Storm roster look like?
Sampson, the Big East Rookie of the Year, hasn't yet committed to coming back for his sophomore year -- he could make the jump to the pros. Harrison's status for next year is uncertain as well -- he could return to the Red Storm, or transfer, or go pro.
Plus, will Lavin land any recruits this spring? We'll see.
If Sampson and Harrison return, and with the addition of forward Orlando Sanchez, St. John's could be a Top 25 team next season.
If those two leave? We're probably looking at a third straight season without an NCAA tournament bid.