By Josh Adams (@joshthescribe)
Special To Daly Dose Of Hoops
1) First things first:
Yes, a 108-67 loss today is bad no matter what, and it's tough to glean anything positive when the Red Storm tied the record today for worst point differential loss in Big East Tournament history. Frankly, the 1973 UCLA Bruins, the 1991 UNLV Runnin' Rebels and the 1992 Duke teams would have had problems with the Wildcats today. Villanova shot 19-for-24 from the field in the second half. That's 79 percent. A young Red Storm team is not nearly in the same league as that, so don't feel too badly about the final score today. No team in the country would have won against that Villanova offense.
2) Where does St. John's go from here?
Progress was clearly made this season when Mullin had players he could mold. Shamorie Ponds should have been named Big East Freshman of the Year over Justin Patton. Marcus LoVett averaged 16 points per game as a freshman. Kassoum Yakwe is a work in progress. Malik Ellison is a role player. It's been more hit than miss in Mullin's recruiting. One thing they lack is size in both height and muscle. It's almost unfair to ask a player like Ponds to guard a pro-type body like Villanova's Jalen Brunson or Josh Hart. Mullin said that working on defense was the first priority in the offseason, but it should be getting his players to the weight room. If Ponds and LoVett could develop mass in the summer, they'll be the best backcourt in the conference. Until then, they will be bullied by bigger guards who can will their way to the basket.
3) Recapturing the magic:
I don't want to make too much of the Mullin-JT3 scrum on Wednesday night, but if that's the gauntlet that Mullin wants to throw down, the St. John's alumni and fan bases are begging for it. The roar from the crowd when they realized that Mullin and John Thompson III were getting chippy was as intense as I've heard Madison Square Garden in years. The conference is better off when there is some true bad blood between St. John's and Georgetown. The malice that Mullin has in his blood towards the Hoyas was reciprocated by JTIII, who was more ornery than usual after the Hoyas loss on Wednesday. There's a real chance here that St. John's can recapture the magic that had them as a New York City institution in the 1980s. Cultivating the old rivalries with Georgetown and Villanova will keep the fans happy and the athletic department coffers full. It's baby steps at this point though. St. John's got their first Big East Tournament win since 2011, so fans should rightly expect continued improvement as Mullin gets more players that will embrace their coach's toughness. The fans' part of the deal is they have to keep showing up. The reason is simple. If I'm a St. John's recruit and I hear the kind of support I heard Wednesday night, I'm signing my letter of intent by halftime.