St. John’s wants to make the NCAA Tournament.
We’re stating the obvious here on the Rumble, but it’s worth repeating as the Red Storm travel to Milwaukee Saturday to play Marquette in the regular season finale. In past years, St. John’s needed to win their last game just to make the Big East Tournament.
That’s no longer the case, of course, but a win Saturday could go a long way to determine the Red Storm’s NCAA Tournament chances.
But the Johnnies have to win today, and the team hasn't fared well in regular season finales with postseason berths on the line.
The Red Storm failed to make the Big East Tournament twice when they had a chance to do so when 12 teams qualified for conference postseason games in a 16-team league. The Big East ended that practice after the 2007-2008 season because coaches argued the double-bye was hurting schools who had to wait a couple of days to play an opponent who were already warm from the first two rounds.
More recent history also shows St. John’s in general hasn’t fared well in regular season finales.
The Red Storm lost their final two regular season games to end the 2007-2008 campaign and missed the Big East East Tournament as Providence nabbed the 12th and final spot. St. John’s finished 5-13 in the conference, just a game worse than Providence and DePaul. The Friars secured the 12th seed over DePaul because it owned the tiebreaker.
Notre Dame beat St. John’s in the second-to-last game of that season 68-55 in South Bend. Luke Harangody led the Irish with 20 points while Anthony Mason, Jr. scored 20 point for St. John’s. The loss marked the Red Storm’s 22nd straight loss to a ranked opponent on the road. Notre Dame was No. 19 at the time.
St. John’s still had a slim chance to make the Big East Tournament with a win against West Virginia, but lost 83-74 in a hard-fought overtime game.
Larry Wright scored a career-high 20 points in his final game for St. John’s before transferring. The Red Storm lost seven of their final eight games that season.
The 2005-2006 season ended in a similar fashion for St. John’s as they lost the final two regular season contests to Villanova and Rutgers, respectively.
Villanova was nearly unbeatable that season as they handed St. John’s a 65-52 defeat. Randy Foye paced the Wildcats with 21 points while Allan Ray scored 15.
St. John’s played Villanova close for most of the game, but faltered in the last six minutes. Eugene Lawrence and Lamont Hamilton each scored 15 points.
Four days later, Rutgers beat the Red Storm 82-70 in the season finale to earn a spot in the tournament. The contest was essentially a play-in game because the winner secured the 10th seed at Madison Square Garden.
Lawrence finished with 22 points and 7 assists while Hamilton had 14 points and 8 rebounds.
The Red Storm did get to the Big East Tournament in 2006-2007 - Lamont Hamilton's senior year - and were three games above the cut line to go to New York.
Some finale duds
Look no further than last season to find evidence of the Red Storm’s troubles in recent regular season finales.
St. John’s entered their final game against Marquette on a three-game losing streak and then proceeded to lose a heartbreaker to the Golden Eagles 69-67 in overtime.
D’Angelo Harrison and Sir’Dominic Pointer missed the game due to a suspension, but the Red Storm almost pulled the upset in the games final minutes and forced overtime. But Marquette’s Vander Blue converted a layup as time expired for the win and a share of the conference regular season title with Georgetown and Louisville.
Phil Greene scored a team-high 20 points, 14 of which came in the second half. JaKarr Sampson finished with 17 points.
and finished the regular season with a two-game losing streak after winning three straight.
Dane Miller scored the game-winning bucket for Rutgers with a one-handed slam dunk with 11.2 seconds remaining in the game. Harrison had two chances to either give St. John’s the lead or tie the game and missed both attempts.
Harrison finished with 17 points. Moe Harkless finished with eight points.
St. John’s shot 35.3 percent from the field as Harkless and Harrison combined to shoot 5-of-20.
Some finale successes
The Red Storm finished their surprising 2010-2011 regular season with a 72-56 win over South Florida just two days after inexplicably losing to Seton Hall. Thankfully for St. John’s, they already clinched an NCAA Tournament berth.
D.J. Kennedy led four players in double-figure scoring with 16 points. Dwight Hardy added 14 points while Justin Brownlee had 13 points and Paris Horne 11.
St. John’s played DePaul to end the 2009-2010 season, a game decided in three-overtime periods as the Johnnies won 90-82 in this never-ending clash.
The Red Storm were down by as many as 20 points before rallying to get the game into overtime. Kennedy scored 28 of his game-high 32 points after halftime. Horne scored 20 points.