Stanley ruled ineligible, as Red Storm falls again

By Joseph Manniello

Nothing has gone right for the St. John’s men’s basketball team this season.

There have been no luck, no friendly roll and no help from the man above.

There has, however, been an enormous black cloud lingering over the Red Storm in what has become one of the worst campaigns in St. John’s history.

That trend continued Sunday afternoon as the Johnnies fell 103-78 to No. 13-ranked Providence at Madison Square Garden in front of 6,824.

The bad news arrived even earlier than usual, as the university announced prior to tip-off that graduate student and captain Andre Stanley was declared academically ineligible for the contest.

St. John’s interim coach Kevin Clark will review Stanley’s status with the team next week, the school said in a statement released to the media.

A graduate student and former walk-on, the Brooklyn native was averaging eight points and 5.3 rebounds, playing in 23 of the Red Storm’s 24 contests.

It was yet another in a long list of hardships and adversity that has found its way into the Red Storm locker room.

First it was Willie Shaw, who was kicked off the team after he was arrested on charges of marijuana possession in Jamaica. Then it was Mike Jarvis, who was fired just six games into the season.

Most recently there were the six players who were suspended or expelled after their alleged involvement in the Pittsburgh sex scandal that left SJU with just nine players, four of whom are walk-ons.

Before the St. John’s (6-19, 1-13 Big East) players knew it Sunday, they were down by 24 as Providence (20-5, 11-3) dumped a Big East record 62 first-half points on their laps, adding insult to injury. It was the largest deficit the Johnnies faced at halftime this season.

The Friars’ 103-point output was the first time St. John’s allowed 100 points in a game since Dec. 23, 1992, when Indiana scored 105.

Led by five players in double-figures and two with nine points apiece, the Friars’ well-rounded attack was too much for the undermanned Johnnies.

“They are a very balanced team, led by one of the better players in the country in Ryan Gomes (19 points and 11 rebounds),” Clark said. “It really is chemistry. They are all complete.”

Scoring the game’s first seven points, PC used its early edge to build a 15-point lead at 32-17. A 12-0 run by the home team cut the lead to just three, but the Friars, who connected on nine three-pointers and shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half, answered with a 30-9 run to end the first 20 minutes up by 24.

Daryll “Showtime” Hill, who was highly recruited by Providence, recorded his fifth straight game with at least 20 points, netting a team-high 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting in 40 minutes.

Kyle Cuffe chipped in 19 points and 10 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the year.

But perhaps the most impressive performance by a player in red and white came via 7-foot-3 center Curtis Johnson, who scored a career-high 14 points and received a standing ovation when he fouled out in the second half.

“I would say there is more confidence and belief (in my game),” said Johnson, who grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes. “I feel more comfortable on the court the last couple of games.”

St. John’s, which will finish the season against Notre Dame on Saturday after playing at Boston College Wednesday night, was mathematically eliminated from the Big East Tournament, which will be played at MSG next week.

It marks the first time in program history that the Johnnies will not play on their home court in the conference’s annual tourney.

Meanwhile, Providence has a chance of being a No. 1 seed in the tournament, and Friars coach Tim Welsh feels his team is ready to hit the Garden floor when the time comes.

“We are starting to feel comfortable in here,” Welsh said. “When we come back in a week and a half, I think we are going to be ready to play well here. We always like playing in the Garden.”

Reach contributing writer Joseph Manniello by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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