The media afterglow: U Conn postgame link dump

I keep hearing the version of Twist and Shout from Ferris Bueller's Day Off in my head today when I think of last night's victory over the Connecticut Huskies.

There's a lot of talk about whether this victory means St. John's is in the NCAA Tournament.

It can't mean that, not yet; if St. John's loses every game from here on out, they'll simply be the strangest-profiled NIT team, instead of the strangest-profiled NCAA Tournament team.

No, the Johnnies still have work to do. But they are rapidly entering the national conscious. This is the beauty of playing in the most major of markets, where the media members roll deep, and so many of them bleed New York blood.

So many are hungry for a winner.

And Steve Lavin is on his way to delivering.

That Rumble you hear is a Link Dump. See what the media are saying about the 89-72 victory over U Conn below the fold.

Red Storm Sports: Hardy Drops 33 As St. John's Upends No. 10/9 UConn At The Garden, 89-72

If you're a top 10 team and you have plans on visiting New York, avoid Madison Square Garden.

Dwight Hardy scored a career-high 33 points and St. John's took command in the second half in an 89-72 victory over No. 10 Connecticut on Thursday night, the Red Storm's fourth win over a top-13 team this season at the Garden. Hardy, who was 10-of-17 from the field and a career-high tying 5-of-8 from 3-point range, was coming off a 32-point effort in a loss to UCLA on Saturday where he was 13-of-24 overall and 3-of-6 on 3s. "I was in a zone," he said using the shooter's term for being hot, "and when I'm in a zone, I kind of black out."

Villanova By the Numbers: Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Connecticut at St. John's
Defensively, St. John’s utilized pressure then fell back into a matchup zone for the half court defense. "I think our pressure wore them down," St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said. "They had trouble with our zone which allowed us to go on several significant runs."

Calhoun was perplexed over his club’s inability to solve the St. John’s zone. "We have seen about 160 minutes straight through four games of zone," he said. "You would think they could handle it by now."

Ed Note: read on for more stat-y goodness from Ray Floriani.

NY Daily News: Dwight Hardy's career-high 33 points leads St. John's basketball to an upset of No. 10 UConn 89-72
However, the road games might be more significant.

Cincinnati and Marquette are mired in the center of the conference standings with St. John's. There's a good chance the teams will be measured against one another. Cincinnati already has a two-point win over the Johnnies at Carnesecca Arena on Jan. 22.

NY Times: St. John’s Continues Garden Roll With Upset of UConn - NYTimes.com
In fact, the Garden, the self-proclaimed World’s Most Famous Arena, has been so welcoming to the Red Storm (14-9, 6-5 Big East) that it has earned a new name, and perhaps a new tradition. Fans in the St. John’s student section held up oversize letters to spell out "Lavinwood," a nod to Lavin’s previous coaching job at U.C.L.A., located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Westwood.

NY Post: Johnnies keep up March, run UConn out of building
The question has tormented Steve Lavin like a morning mosquito buzzing in his ear: Is he a coach with substance who can pull together a team, or he is all style and smile, riding elite recruits?

Lavin slapped that bloodsucker dead cold last night, just as St. John's backhanded a Connecticut team that has bugged it for years. The Red Storm, paced by Dwight Hardy's career-high 33 points, beat No. 10 UConn at its own game, 89-72, in the World's Most Famous Arena, which buzzed like old times.

ESPN: St. John's Red Storm take back Madison Square Garden, stun UConn Huskies
Truth be told, this team hasn't clicked like this in many years -- particularly at home. St. John's games at the Garden have been downright depressing in recent seasons. The Red Storm haven't drawn big crowds -- in fact, many visiting teams have had more fans in the seats.

But the electricity is definitely back. After all, seven teams have come into the Garden to play St. John's this season, and six have gone home unhappy -- including four bona fide Final Four contenders. During the Red Storm's surge in the second half Thursday night, you could not imagine a much better home-court advantage.

Metro NY: Hardy handles UConn
In various parts of the Bronx, those not aware may have suddenly received phone calls or text messages with the following message – "Are you seeing what Dwight Hardy is doing?"

Elsewhere in the metropolitan area, basketball fans with other commitments and unaware of the events at the Garden might have received messages inquiring if they knew what St. John's was doing.

NY Daily News: St. John's basketball, Steve Lavin, deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament selection conversation
The Storm no longer represents another guarantee game or a necessary evil for opposing teams preparing for their next conference matchup. The Johnnies' improvement, particularly on this, their home court, has been noticeable and dramatic.

And St. John's long-suffering fans have to be loving it. They have been waiting for this moment since 1999, when Mike Jarvis coached a Johnnies team that featured local stars and future pros Ron Artest and Erick Barkley to the NCAA Tournament's regional finals.

NY Post: St. John's marching closer to tournament
Is it too early to look that far ahead? Why should it be? At this point, the Johnnies have proved themselves virtually bulletproof at the Garden, have now clobbered Duke and UConn there, a South Jamaica southpaw taking out Ali and Frazier back to back. Their on-line RPI number was already 22; it doesn't figure to shrink after this.,

"We want them to stay focused on the little things, on every practice, on every game," said Steve Lavin, the coach who has engineered a complete transformation of a team that looked so disjointed in December, falling to St. Bonaventure and Fordham within five days. "That said, when they do that, the big picture takes care of itself. And we had as our goal from the start to make the Tournament."

Stamford Advocate: Hardy, St. John's smoke UConn
Rather than exact some payback for the pummeling they took here in last season's Big East Tournament, 10th-ranked UConn was pounded again by the Garden's real home team Thursday night. St. John's, which had lost nine straight games to the Huskies before last year's breakthrough, scored 54 points in the second half to pull away for an easy 89-72 victory.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun, whose team surrendered a season-high in points, couldn't put his finger on the aspect of his team's play that displeased him the most. "Every aspect that you can possibly name from foul shooting to no defense to rebounding to not running to getting run on," said Calhoun, whose team has lost three of its last four games.

Hartford Courant: Some Thoughts On UConn-St. John's
Alex Oriakhi on getting blown out by St. John's in last year's Big East tournament: "We definitely had a bad taste in our mouth because they killed us last year. That's something we didn't want to happen again. ... The same exact thing happened."

The Day: Nightmare at the Garden for No. 10 Huskies
"The game ended somewhere around halfway, I'm not sure if the tip was up or not fully up, then they just outplayed us for 40 minutes and outworked us," Calhoun said. "We didn't give them the type of resistance that we had all year in 22 games.

"It was a very disappointing night for us. We just played very poorly and they, in turn, played very well." Madison Square Garden is turning into a House of Horrors for the Huskies. In their last trip here, they had their worst loss in 25 years in the Big East tournament, dropping a 73-51 decision to St. John's.

CBS/ WFAN: Steve Lavin On WFAN: St. John's Making Strong Argument For NCAA Tournament
LISTEN: Steve Lavin with Evan Roberts

Lavin said that the Red Storm has a leg up in the selection process because of "quality wins" over top opponents.

"Here’s what we have going for us, we have the number one or number two strength of schedule in the country," Lavin explained. The bottom line for Lavin, St. John’s just has to win in order to "control our own destiny."

Wall Street Journal: Hardy's Red-Hot in St. John's Win over UConn
The first half was frenetic, with St. John's looking for fast-break chances virtually every trip up the court. Mr. Walker hit three 3-pointers to keep things close for the Huskies—but then disaster.

After Mr. Hardy connected on a corner 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining in the half, teammate Malik Boothe came away with a strip and banked in a half-court shot at the buzzer for a 35-31 lead. Mr. Calhoun exacerbated the situation by drawing a technical foul on his way to the locker room. Mr. Hardy hit both free throws, but he was just getting started. Midway through the second half, Mr. Hardy accounted for 12 straight points for the Red Storm—the crowd reaching a crescendo when he buried a 24-foot jump shot. He left his arm in the air and stared into the crowd, which went bananas.

Johnny Jungle: Johnnies Building Strong Resume
So what’s left? Just some more winning.

Truth be told, 14-9 – and 6-5 in conference play – doesn’t project to be good enough to get you into the March Madness tournament. Yes, they are clearly in contention for a spot but they’ll have to do more – especially in a conference where almost every team can say they are fighting for a bid. But at least the Red Storm have plenty of quality opponents left on the schedule to pretty up that record.

Hartford Courant: UConn Notebook: Offense Remains In A Funk
"This is not the end of the season for Connecticut," coach Jim Calhoun said. "We'll play our way in or play our way out [of the NCAA Tournament]."

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