What a way For the St. John’s Red Storm to get ready for Christmas – a forfeit win (maybe) and a hard loss just in time for conference play. Just when things couldn’t get any stranger, the future of college basketball this season is now becoming more tenuous on a daily basis.
St. John’s picked up a key win against Seton Hall last week – sort of. Due to Covid-19 striking yet again, the Pirates were forced to forfeit their scheduled game against St. John’s (under NCAA rules, there has to be at least seven eligible players available to play each game or the team forfeits. College football is facing this issue this week with the impending bowl schedule including the FBS Semi-Finals.) Under Big East rules, Seton Hall recorded a loss due to Covid in the Big East standings while St. John’s picks up a forfeit win. However, this forfeit win does not impact either school’s overall NCAA tournament eligibility as the game will be marked as a “No Contest.” However, the Big East Conference just reversed their ruling today and will allow a re-scheduling of Covid affected games if a re-schedule date can be found; the Red Storm and the Seton Hall Pirates may have another opportunity down the road to make this game up – if everyone can stay healthy.
St. John’s also stumbled in their non-conference finale against Pitt 59-57. Playing without Justin Champagnie (positive Covid-19 test) proved to be an Achilles heel to the Johnnies. Without Champagnie and Posh Alexander hitting a shooting drought, Pitt seemed to be happy allowing the Red Storm to shoot primarily from the perimeter. St. John’s stalled with drives in the paint and shot only two of nine from the rim in the first half and only scoring another six in the paint. After halftime, Joel Soriano was left in during the second half because he represented the only offense that the Red Storm could muster successfully. Pitt big man Mouhamadou Gueye basically stuffed the Johnnies and even with some decent offensive runs the Johnnies couldn’t make up for ten second half turnovers and missing seven out of 14 free throw shots.
The Red Storm looked battered and frustrated with their first game at Madison Square Garden and they will have to kick into high gear in order to survive the grind of conference play. In addition, the demands that Covid-19 are going to put on players and programs themselves to stay healthy and eligible will no doubt play a huge role in the coming days and weeks ahead and cause havoc to college hoops.