By Stephen Lepore
Chris Mullin is set to begin his fourth season as head coach of the St. John’s men’s basketball team.
Despite securing wins over nationally-ranked powerhouses Duke and Villanova last season, the Johnnies finished 4-14 in conference play, tied for the worst record in the Big East.
Mullin’s Red Storm return star sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds, who led the Big East in scoring last season, while adding talented Auburn transfer Mustapha Heron.
Some believe the combination of returning favorites and new additions will lead to a renaissance for St. John’s in 2018-19. ESPN.com puts the Red Storm third in their pre-season Big East power rankings, while NCAA.com’s Andy Katz places the Johnnies in fifth, a good sign in a conference that sent six teams to the big dance last season.
Here’s a look at some key matchups on the Red Storm’s 2018-19 schedule.
The college basketball season is littered with early season events.
The Johnnies will take part in, and host part of, the annual Legends Classic. Loyola and Bowling Green open the Red Storm’s season Tuesday, Nov. 6 and Friday, Nov. 9, respectively, at Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm will take on Cal and either VCU or Temple in the tournament’s final two games Nov. 19 and Nov. 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
In between, the Johnnies play in the annual Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual series pitting Big East teams against foes from the Big Ten. The Red Storm face a familiar opponent in former Big East rival Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J. Nov. 16.
St. John’s will also travel to Miami Dec. 1 to take on Georgia Tech in the Hoophall Miami Invitational.
Blue Devil Battle
St. John’s non-conference schedule is headlined by an opportunity to prove that last year’s win over Duke was no fluke, as the Red Storm travel to Durham, N.C., to play the Blue Devils Feb. 2 at the legendary Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Big East Showdowns
St. John’s annual battles with their Big East brethren are always exciting. National champions Villanova visit Madison Square Garden Feb. 17, while the Johnnies make the trek to Philadelphia Jan. 8.
Carnesecca Arena will host its share of Big East games. Marquette (Jan. 1), DePaul (Jan. 12), Creighton (Jan. 16), Butler (Feb. 12) and Xavier (Feb. 28) will all visit Queens this season.
There’s also the Big East Tournament. The entire conference heads to MSG March 13-16 to decide who gets that automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. With some of the pundits high on this year’s Red Storm, they certainly hope to vie for that spot.