On Saturday, the Red Storm were pounced on by the Providence Friars at Madison Square Garden, losing 70-56 just four days after dropping the tenth-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles on the road, 70-69.
“The first thing on the board was physicality, and that is them trying to run the flex, posting us up,” said coach Chris Mullin. “When you get a stop and then you don’t get the ball back, it demoralizes your offense and defense. Providence had 16 offensive rebounds.
“Offensive rebounds just spread you, and then they kick out for threes and things like that,” Mullin added. “I didn’t think we had much pace offensively either.”
Earlier this season, the Red Storm had similar rollercoaster rides on multiple occasions.
In their second Big East contest on January 1, the Storm defeated those same Golden Eagles, 89-69 at Carnesecca Arena. The win over Marquette, then ranked number 16, marked the Johnnies’ highest margin of victory over a ranked opponent in 20 years.
Eleven days later, they squandered a game against DePaul, losing 79-71 in Queens.
On January 16, the Red Storm recorded a big home win against Creighton, 81-66, then followed with a road loss to Butler three days later, 80-71.
“We’re not hurting anybody but ourselves,” said swingman Marvin Clark II, who had six points and eight rebounds in 38 minutes of work against the Friars. “We all have to look each other in the eye and string something together, or we’re just going to be another talented St. John’s team.”
With their most recent defeat, the Johnnies stand at 17-7, but are under .500 since a 12-0 non-conference showing prior to Big East play.
The Red Storm are 5-6 in league play with seven games until the post-season. While that’s good enough to be tied for third place in the conference, Xavier and Providence are right behind at 4-7, just barely ahead of last-place Xavier at 3-8.
With Villanova at 10-1 and Marquette at 9-2 leading the pack, everyone else is closer to the bottom of the standings than the top two teams.