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NY Post
New York Post
24 Feb 2024

NextImg:St. John’s has a chance to turn its season around against Creighton

St. John’s got its apology from Rick Pitino.

Now, it’s looking to keep things on track against another tough Big East opponent this weekend.

The Red Storm came into the New Year with high hopes and NCAA Tournament dreams, but have subsequently gone 6-8 in the 2024 part of the schedule and sit near the Big East basement, tied for eighth in the conference.

Sunday’s loss against Seton Hall set off Pitino, and he called the season “the most unenjoyable experience of my life.”

St. John’s lost by one point to Creighton when Daniss Jenkins missed a shot over Ryan Kalkbrenner in the final seconds despite a possible foul on the play. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

But the legendary coach apologized to his players, and St. John’s bounced back with a 90-85 win Wednesday over lowly Georgetown, after which Pitino expanded further on his mea culpa.

Even with fading March Madness hopes, the team has a chance to make a statement Sunday against No. 15 Creighton at Madison Square Garden.

It’s a Bluejays squad coming to New York off its high point of the season after knocking off top-ranked UConn by 19 points Tuesday, which snapped the Huskies’ 14-game winning streak.

Beating a hot Creighton team, one St. John’s lost to in a one-point heartbreaker Jan. 13, could help the team begin a turnaround in earnest.

“Right now, we are just mainly focused on what we can do to increase our chances of making the [NCAA] Tournament and seeing how special we can get with this team with those veteran guys and seeing how far we can get,” St. John’s forward Zuby Ejiofor said Friday.

Jordan Dingle led the way against the Hoyas with a game-high 22 points, but if St. John’s is going to compete against Creighton, it will almost undoubtedly need captain Joel Soriano to step up.

Rick Pitino
Rick Pitino faces Creighton one week after a postgame rant about his players. AP

Soriano struggled mightily at the start of this month, hitting a nadir on Feb. 10 when scored just two points in 17 minutes in a loss against No. 7 Marquette.

But he’s turned things around a bit over the last two games, recording a double-double in each contest.

With Soriano, Dingle and Daniss Jenkins all seniors, Ejiofor said he hopes the Red Storm can make something good happen over the last few weeks of the season with this core.

“I feel like this is a really special group of guys who are going to leave us next year,” he said. “So, we are mainly focused on what we can do this year.”