St. John's Chris Mullin
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

After their blowout loss at Providence on Wednesday, the inconsistency of the St. John’s Red Storm makes this team tough to figure out.

Ricky Keeler

Throughout the Big East season, the St. John’s Red Storm have been a tough team to figure out due to their consistent inconsistency. True, this team does have great wins in the league with their two wins over Marquette and the win against Villanova from last week. Those wins gave the fan base a lot of hope this team can have a deep run in March in the NCAA Tournament.

However, just when the optimism is high on the Red Storm, they go out and play a game like they did on Wednesday in their 78-59 loss against Providence College. It was their second loss this year against a Friars squad that is 15-12 and 5-9 in the conference. After falling behind 9-0 early, St. John’s could not pull off the same comeback that they did against Villanova.

With a team that has experience and knows how to play in big games, it is baffling how the Red Storm play up to the competition when the bright lights are on. However, when they are expected to win like they were on Wednesday and on Feb. 9 against the Friars, they go out and lose by double digits. In fact, the Red Storm’s last five losses have all been by double digits.

Wednesday’s game left a lot of bad things for the Red Storm to worry about. They head into the final four games of the season still on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. For one, Shamorie Ponds only had four points and was 2-for-9 from the floor. In his last three games, the point guard is 8-for-35 on his shot attempts and 2-for-11 from downtown.

Now, LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron have done a good job picking up the slack for Ponds during his shooting slump. With that being said, if St. John’s is going to do big things, they need Ponds to find that success with his shot and quickly. Otherwise, the rhythm of the offense is going to remain stagnant.

 

Plus, the team needs a lot more out of Marvin Clark II. The 6-foot-7 forward struggled again after scoring no points for the second time in the last five games and got into early foul trouble. After fouling out at the beginning of the second half due to a technical foul, Clark II was later ejected for a second technical due to taunting on the bench. For someone who is a leader on the team, that’s something that just can’t happen.

Yes, you can understand that the team might have still been riding high from the Villanova win and partially looking ahead to the rematch against Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night (8 p.m, FS1). However, it is no lock that this team is going to make the NCAA Tournament. It is likely, but this team has to play well to leave no doubt in the eyes of the Selection Committee.

If there was any positive to take away from a rough loss, it was that Chris Mullin got to use some of the young players with the game out of hand in the second half. One player that stood out was Marcellus Earlington. Earlington had 10 points, five rebounds, and a block in 11 minutes. Maybe that performance gets the freshman more minutes in the rotation going forward and adds depth to the rotation.

No one will doubt that the Red Storm have arguably the best starting lineup in the Big East. The Johnnies are tough to beat when clicking on all cylinders. But, they still have to show they can play consistent for 40 minutes and get everyone on the right page in the last month of the season. Plus, at 7-7 in the Big East, they are not even in a position yet where a first-round bye in the Big East Tournament is fully secured.

There’s still plenty of opportunity in front of them and it is up to St. John’s to try to fix the problems and fast so they avoid any more bad losses in the regular season like they have had two of the last three games against the Friars. It’s tough to tell who is mainly at fault for the inconsistency, but they have to find a way to figure it out.

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