Is it like Christmas Day?
Do you find yourself unnaturally excited for the last regular season home game in Madison Square Garden for the seniors?
Does a large part of you expect to see a St. John's victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers? Then you, sir or madam, are in the right place.
Get ready for the game with the Rumble in the Garden pregame preview. A lot of good information on how and why Pittsburgh is so good. The truncated Keys to the Game:
Force the Panthers out of their rhythm.
Dwight Hardy needs to score, and needs scoring help.
St. John's has to stop Pitt from dominating the rebounding categories.
Stifle the Pitt inside/ slashing game.
Protect the ball.
Can the Red Storm pull it out? Below the fold is the CBS Sports video preview of the game and other media coverage.
Let's get this game thread started.
NY Times: Low Point of Season Was Turning Point for St. John’s
St. John’s performance at Fordham might have been the turning point. At the time, when coupled with the team’s loss to St. Bonaventure earlier in the week, it seemed as if St. John’s would be in for another long season. It now seems as if it was a blessing in defeat.
The loss at Fordham, which was St. John’s only defeat to a team ranked outside the top 100 of the Ratings Percentage Index, forced the coaching staff to make important adjustments. In particular, Lavin said, the Red Storm has developed "a second gear" to its blitzing offense. St. John’s used its defensive press as an offensive catalyst. The Red Storm’s plus-4.2 in turnover margin leads the Big East. St. John’s suffocating style, which creates quick baskets in transition, has quickly become its hallmark.
NY Post: St. John's set to check Pitt off list
If the Red Storm can pull off the upset of the nation's fourth-ranked team, it will give St. John's upsets over teams ranked third (Duke), ninth (Notre Dame), 10th (Connecticut) and 13th (Georgetown) -- the most upsets by a St. John's team over ranked teams since 1999-2000.
"You say upset," Sean Evans said. "We say regular win."
NY Daily News: St. John's and Pittsburgh native D.J. Kennedy looking for big victory over No. 4 Panthers at Garden
In years past, the Panthers have enjoyed a near home-court advantage over the Storm at the Garden. That won't be the case this time.
"The Garden wasn't really packed last year, it was more half-empty," said Johnnies senior guard Dwight Hardy, averaging 27.8 points and shooting 56% on threes the last four games. "This year the fans have come out and showed us great love and support. When the Garden is rocking like that it gives us an extra boost ... to compete."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: St. John's Kennedy fine with lesser role
"I knew coming in, to win, I wouldn't be able to lead the team in every stat," D.J. Kennedy said Friday afternoon. "I was prepared for a different role. When you look at the good teams, they don't have one good player. It's a team game. I'm trying to find ways to help my team win."
Kennedy, a 6-foot-6 small forward, is doing that. He is third on the team in scoring and playing fewer minutes than last season, but he remains an important part of Lavin's rotation.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Is Pitt Final-Four ready?
Most signs are positive. Pitt is 24-2 and ranked fourth in the nation. If the season ended today, there’s no question the Panthers would receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, which means they’d be favored to make it to the Final Four.
Everything is lined up just right, except for this: Lack of elite talent.
USA Today: Weekend Tip-off: Purdue looks to get revenge on Ohio State - USATODAY.com
2. Garden Storm: St. John's hopes to create more Madison Square Garden magic and take down another top-five visitor Saturday. This time it's No. 4 Pittsburgh, the toughest out in the Big East with an unblemished road record. Dwight Hardy has the hot hand for the Red Storm, but Panthers G Brad Wanamaker is a relentless defender. Pitt might also regain the services of G Ashton Gibbs (knee).
My Central Jersey: The Big East Notebook | New Jersey Hoops Haven
Dwight Hardy: Why Hardy didn’t start under Norm Roberts is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The senior guard has spearheaded St. John’s return to the national stage, averaging 25.3 points in the Johnnies recent 5-1 surge.