By Jason Schott – BrooklynFans.com Reporter / Assignment Editor – @JESchott19
This Saturday at high noon at Madison Square Garden, there will be a revival of a classic Big East rivalry, as St. John’s takes on Georgetown. St. John’s enters the game having won five of their last six games and keeps burnishing their NCAA Tournament resume, and it will be an emotional one as it is Senior Day.
St. John’s began the season 11-1, then things went the other way when Big East Conference play started. They went 2-5 against Big East teams, with a non-conference loss to Duke thrown in.
St. John’s got a season-turning home victory against Providence on January 31st, and they have won six of eight games since then to improve their Big East record to 8-7 and their overall record to 19-9. St. John’s is in fifth place in the Big East standings, while Georgetown is in second with an overall record of 18-8 and conference record of 10-5.
Georgetown won the first meeting between these two teams, 79-57. Six players scored in double figures for Georgetown, as L.J. Peak, Isaac Copeland, Joshua Smith, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, and Mikael Hopkins all had 12 points each, and Jabril Trawick had 11. Georgetown led 33-23 at halftime, and St. John’s never got closer than 10 in the second half.
St. John’s Head Coach Steve Lavin and players spoke on Thursday afternoon ahead of this big game. Here is what they had to say:
Head Coach Steve Lavin
On the senior class:
“I couldn’t be more proud of these five seniors. They are the last of the Mohicans. This 2011 recruiting class will always hold a special place in my heart. To this point, the class has already produced two NBA players in JaKarr [Sampson] and Maurice Harkless, a Major League Baseball prospect in Amir Garrett (Cincinnati Reds) and the rarity in Gods’Gift [Achiuwa] having earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees with honors, two 1,000 point scorers in Phil [Greene IV] and Sir’Dominic [Pointer], a 2,000-point scorer in D’Angelo [Harrison] and most importantly six college graduates.”
On what the seniors have accomplished:
“This group came in and has made undeniable progress from year-to-year and as a result has put St. John’s in a position where we are once again a competitive program. Our team still has plenty of work to do because we want the seniors to go out on a high note with a NCAA Tournament appearance. The opportunity to participate in this group’s growth and development as young men and as basketball players has been a privilege and a honor that I will forever be grateful for.”
On Sir’Dominic Pointer:
“Sir’Dominic Pointer has consistently put up remarkable numbers. He is the unicorn of college basketball, so unique as few have his ability to influence the game at both ends of the court. Sir’Dominic certainly appears to be on the radar when it comes to potential Player of the Year candidates.”
On D’Angelo Harrison’s senior season:
“D’Angelo clearly has been hampered by injuries over the past month, otherwise he would be as strong a candidate as anyone for the BIG EAST Player of the Year award. Since D’Angelo suffered the injury on the eve of our game at DePaul, it has affected his performance. It speaks volumes that he has navigated through and played with pain, finding a way to lead us and help accumulate St. John’s wins. He has stepped up to hit big shot after big shot and always knocks down key free throws late in games to salt victories away.”
Senior Guard D’Angelo Harrison
On the anticipation of Senior Day:
“It’s a special moment. It’s going to be an emotional night on Saturday but we just want to come out and play a St. John’s brand of basketball and beat [Georgetown]. In the back of our minds we know that they just beat us so we don’t want to lose to Georgetown anymore.”
On closing out the regular season:
“We want to make sure that this group that came in together [four years ago] stays the course and finishes on the highest note possible, and that starts on Saturday.”
Senior Forward Sir’Dominic Pointer
On the anticipation of Senior Day and playing in front of family on Saturday:
“Even if [my family] didn’t come it would be an emotional night for me. It’s an emotional night for all of us. This is our last time playing at Madison Square Garden in the regular season. We all came to St. John’s together and we’re all leaving together. Lots of people don’t make it this far with each other and we made it all four years.”
On the bond shared by the senior class:
“We’re family. We’ve been here for four years and we’ve become brothers. We’ll be that for the rest of our lives.”
Senior Guard Phil Greene IV
On the importance of the Red Storm’s defensive effort on Saturday:
“We have to come out and play defense. If we lock up and rebound, our offense will take care of itself. We’ll get out in transition and get some easy buckets. Everything starts with our defense so we have to bring a lot of intensity to it.”