The St. Johns Red Storm will make its play for the Big East Tournament Championship this week. Winning the tournament would certainly help the Red Storms NCAA Tournament chances as well as give the team a boost in confidence following a disappointing loss in Villanova this weekend to end the regular season.
The road will not be easy, however, as St. Johns will have to run the table in four games, starting with Wednesday nights match-up against Seton Hall, a team which has already beaten the Red Storm this season.
No team has ever won four straight games to capture the Big East Tournament title.
You got to win one in a row before you have a chance to win two in a row, three in a row, said head coach Mike Jarvis. The fact that no one has done it before all that means is that no ones done it yet. At some point in time, whether its us or somebody else, someone will do it.
The Big East Tournament can be seen as a true test for the Red Storm heading into the post season, especially if the team makes the field of 65 for the NCAA Tournament, a bid that is all but assured if St. Johns garners its 20th win of the year with a win in the first round of the tournament.
But the specter of playing four games on consecutive days should push Jarvis team to the brink.
Im excited, said St. Johns swingman Sharif Fordham. Weve won four games in a row before. But its going to be tough. Mostly everyone is on the bubble and everyone wants to get that automatic bid so everyone is going to come out and play hard.
St. Johns has already shown the ability to perform against some quality teams this season, beating Wake Forest, Miami, Connecticut, Boston College and Notre Dame. The team, however, lost to both Gonzaga early in the season, and Duke two weeks ago, perhaps the two best teams on its schedule.
Pittsburgh comes into the tournament as the team to beat, having locked up the No. 1 seed from the West Division and a date with either Boston College or Rutgers in the second round.
Connecticut took the East Division title, followed by Miami, which slipped into the No. 2 slot after St. Johns was unable to beat Villanova for a second time Sunday, 77-62.
If St. Johns gets by the Pirates who beat St. Johns 63-61 in overtime Jan. 29 and eliminated the Storm from the Big East Tournament last year, also in the first round a date with Notre Dame, the No. 2 seed out of the West, looms in the second round at 9 p.m. Thursday.
The semifinals will be held at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday with the finals being played Saturday at 8 p.m.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2002 Community News Group
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