The Big East suffered it's first NCAA Tournament loss of the year Friday when St. John's fell to San Diego State by a score of 76-64 . It was a back and forth affair for the first 10 minutes, but it seemed as if San Diego State, in typical Steve Fisher-led team fashion, had control for the final 30 minutes. Here are three things we learned from the game.
SDSU wasn't afraid to change their style up
Coming into this game, the Aztecs were 272nd in the country in three-point percentage at .320. What did they do? They saw St. John's was in a 1-3-1 on defense, and three's were going to be their only options. They shot them, and they thrived. They finished the game going 9-21 from beyond the arc, with Dwayne Polee going 5-7 on his own. That's the big difference between Steve Fisher and Steve Lavin. The ability to change things up.
Chris Obekpa's absence was huge
You certainly don't want to focus on what might have been, but this was a winnable game for the Red Storm. Had they had their starting center, the NCAA's 5th leading shot blocker, Chris Obekpa, would things have been different? It's hard to say, but there's no denying the impact Obekpa brings to the court. If the rumors are correct, and Obekpa's suspension was due to a failed drug test, it's an undeniably selfish act that ultimately played a part in costing his team an NCAA Tournament victory.
Steve Lavin should turn his phone off for a couple days
Before the Big East Tournament started, Adam Zagoria reported Lavin, who has a year remaining on his contract, would be "evaluated" following the season. What's happened since then? A loss to Providence in the Big East Tournament, Steve Lavin admitting he's a "bad conference tournament coach", the Obekpa suspension (At least the fourth suspension for "violation of team rules" Lavin has issued, by my count), and now an NCAA Tournament loss to San Diego State. The one thing that might help secure Lavin's job, however, is the fact that the coaching pool is very shallow at the moment. Either way, Lavin may want to lay low for a couple days.