St. John’s began their season with two blowout home victories against Bethune-Cookman and Binghamton. What followed were four competitive and winnable games away from the Empire State.
Unfortunately St. John’s failed to finish any of those contests off with a victory. Supporters can look at all four of those previous games and blame this or that. Ultimately, there is something that separates winners and losers. Teams that consistently win do the little things correctly, and teams that lose, don’t.
Anyone that has watched St. John’s basketball this season knows there are pieces in place.
Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett certainly comprise one of the future’s most exciting backcourts. So far this season, they have averaged a combined 35 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists per contest.
Down low young players like Yankuba Sima, Kassoum Yakwe, and Tariq Owens should have fans eager for more. All three players have flashed brilliance at times. Whether it is blocking shots and dictating opposing offenders, or scoring from inside, this trio has a bright future.
Players like Bashir Ahmed and Federico Mussini fit the mold of x-factors on a team full of exciting playmakers.
Barring any transfers or unforeseen injuries, every single contributor will be back next season. Along with the current rotation, highly touted wing players Justin Simon and Marvin Clark Jr. will play meaningful minutes. Throw in 7-foot center Zach Brown, and the Johnnies may be a real threat in the Big East.
What has been hard for fans to deal with is that consistent success takes time. Patience is truly a virtue.
Against Michigan State, the Johnnies held a slim lead in the second-half. Down the stretch they failed to maintain their high level of play, walking out of the Imperial Ballroom losers.
A similar scenario plagued St. John’s against VCU the next night. By their final night in the Bahamas, St. John’s had exhausted most of their energy and were handled with ease by Old Dominion.
"We probably took a step back. To develop team chemistry and trust, it takes going through this stuff, flushing it out and working through it.” Chris Mullin told reporters when asked about his team playing for 40 minutes. “As frustrating as it is that's usually what makes a team. If you can get through it together. No one likes to lose and play terrible but usually when you look back that is what turns a team into a team.”
Amid the haze of a tough loss is progress. Chris Mullin inherited a disaster, and in one season has the program trending upward again.
One major takeaway from Atlantis is that St. John’s will likely drop many close games this year, failing to achieve the nuances of winning. Inexperience and youth will cause many of these struggles, and that is nothing to fret about. Brighter days are ahead, and if this recent trip to the Bahamas told us anything, they likely aren’t this season.