1) It is now or never for St. John’s
This was an important win and will be an important stretch for the Red Storm to finish the season because of the fact that their four seniors are looking to go out with an NCAA Tournament appearance. When Coach Steve Lavin and these seniors first game to St. John’s the goal was to get the Red Storm back to the dance. If they do not find a way this season their legacies at the school are in some trouble and the future of the team is not very bright with Chris Obekpa being the only returning starter.
With Sir’Dominic Pointer, D’Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene IV and Jamal Branch all heading out after this season it is essential for the Johnnies to make it to the NCAA Tournament because if they do not this program might not get this close again for a long time. For the future of the program this is a vital stretch. Fortunately for St. John’s, it started off with a win.
2) There is no bottom for Seton Hall, they just keep falling
The losing streak for the Pirates has hit six in a row and 10 of The Hall’s last 13 since they defeated Villanova on Jan. 3. Once again, the Pirates did not play the entire 40 minutes. They had a chance to win once again, but with about five minutes to go Seton Hall seemed to stop contesting three pointers in transition and fell apart defensively as a whole. The freefall continues for The Hall as they look to defeat Creighton at home without Sterling Gibbs who won the first matchup against the Bluejays with a late three pointer in Omaha.
Many now are calling for Coach Kevin Willard’s head as the Pirates have certainly lost any hope of making the NCAA Tournament. However, due to the relationship that Coach Willard has with AD Pat Lyons it is unlikely that he will be fired. Willard’s contract is up at the end of next season so, for now, his seat stays as cold as the winter weather in New Jersey, but if this continues into next season expect that seat to warm up in a hurry. The fans are getting extremely impatient and want Willard out after five seasons with no NCAA Tournament appearances. They certainly do not want another year of this from the team next season. How the Pirates end this season and play down the stretch in the conference next season will likely define Willard’s legacy, which as of now is looking pretty weak.
3) Pirates need Gibbs to finish season strong
Seton Hall clearly needed Gibbs in this game today, especially down the stretch. In the final five minutes, the Pirates did not know what to do on the offensive end and once again Isaiah Whitehead focused on getting his shots instead of distributing the ball. Bad offensive possessions and even worse defense led to the loss late in this game, but the Pirates might have been able to pull away and win this game if Gibbs had suited up. Of course, we will never know, but the blue and white needed to have better shot selection instead of just chucking up three pointers.
Gibbs is out for one more game and then will return against Providence. The Pirates really need to finish the season strong not just for this year, but to build some confidence going into 2015-16. If Seton Hall wants to accomplish that they need Gibbs in the lineup and playing well.