By Vin Parise
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It may be all ice and snow outside these days but college hoops has been heating up – especially at Madison Square Garden. This past weekend, St. John’s had the biggest win in the program’s history in over a decade. A sold out Madison Square Garden, and senior laden Red Storm team and a solid 15 point win over the #3 ranked Duke Blue Devils. The atmosphere was electric and the lead was closer to 20 points for a large portion of the game. One security guard at the Garden joked that the ‘cheap seats’ haven’t been used here since Jeff Van Gundy was head coach!
My sources in Queens tell me that first year head coach Steve Lavin’s pre-game speech was on the money. He talked about the tradition and pride involved with playing Duke at home and UCLA out west in the same week. And the master motivator caused goose bumps when he explained to his team they were never going to forget the next two hours for the rest of their lives.
“Every player, coach, trainer and manager were ready to bust through that door when Coach Lavin was done,” said the source.
So when the Red Storm take the court tonight at Carnesecca Arena against local rival Rutgers, the juices will be flowing at a high rate – for both teams.
The Scarlet Knights enter Queens with a lot confidence and a moral victory from the weekend in their last outing vs #2 ranked Pittsburgh. Rutgers lost 65-62 in a game that had The RAC in Piscataway rocking like it hasn’t rocked in years. Like Lavin, Rutgers head coach Mike Rice has inspired his group and overachieved with the talent he has.
But tonight, expect an absolute defensive war.
In the win vs Duke, the Red Storm held the Blue Devils to 19% shooting from 3 point land (5 for 26) and forced Duke into 17 turnovers – two stats that you don’t see often from Coach K’s team.
In the loss to Pitt, the Scarlet Knights held one of the best teams in the country to 35% shooting from the field and notched 8 blocks against a very tough frontline.
With the way these two clubs defend folks – take the UNDER in this one!
2 POINTS IN OVERTIME
– Seton Hall has a tough game tonight in West Virginia but the Pirates have turned things around in their last two outings. Kevin Willard’s team won at the Carrier Dome vs Syracuse and then beat a hot Providence team who were coming off wins vs Louisville and Villanova.
– Don’t sleep on Hofstra this year. The Pride have 14 wins already and are tied for 3rd place in the CAA – and the top player in the area Charles Jenkins is ending his career in style for new coach Mo Cassara.
- Halfway Home: Red Storm’s Lavin Leads Local Rookie Coaches (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- St. John’s Stuns No. 3 Duke, 93-78 At Madison Square Garden (newyork.cbslocal.com)