March 18, 2015
QUEENS - One of the winningest programs in college basketball history, the St. John's Red Storm returns to the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships for the second time in the last five years. St. John's (21-11) makes its 28th appearance in the "Big Dance" as a No. 9 seed and will square off with No. 8 seed San Diego State (26-8) in the Second Round on Friday in Charlotte. Tip-off at Time Warner Cable Arena is scheduled for 9:40 p.m.
The nationally televised contest will air on CBS with announcers Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. The broadcast is also available through March Madness Live. St. John's radio team of John Minko and Brandon Tierney can be heard on 970 AM (WNYM), while Westwood One Sports will deliver the national radio broadcast with announcers Gary Cohen and Kelly Tripucka.
St. John's won 21 regular-season games playing the 28th-toughest schedule in the nation, which includes nine victories against teams in the RPI Top 100. The Red Storm enters its first-ever meeting with the Aztecs looking for the program's first NCAA Tournament win since 2000.
St. John's was one of the hottest teams in the BIG EAST in the second half of conference play going 7-2 in the final nine regular-season contests. The Red Storm will rally behind Steve Lavin who has a track record of success in the first two rounds of the tournament. Over his 11-year head coaching career, Lavin has produced a 10-2 mark in the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament including a 5-0 record in the Round of 32.
The Red Storm's veteran-laden roster features First Team All-BIG EAST selection D'Angelo Harrison who is the fifth among active players in Division I with 2,160 career points. The 6-foot-4 guard reached double-figures in 28-of-32 appearances this season and has the second-highest scoring average in the BIG EAST with 17.5 points per game. Fellow senior Sir'Dominic Pointer was the BIG EAST's Co-Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player. Pointer ranked in the top-10 of the BIG EAST in scoring (13.5 ppg), rebounding (7.6 rpg), blocks (2.4 bpg) and steals (1.9 spg). Phil Greene IV, the third member of St. John's four-year senior trio, enters the NCAA Tournament averaging 13.2 points per game and was one of the BIG EAST's top 3-point shooters hitting nearly 40 percent of his attempts from long range. Senior guard Jamal Branch owns a team-leading 2.54 assist to turnover ratio, while sophomore phenom Rysheed Jordan is the team's second leading scorer (14.3 ppg) and assist leader (3.1 apg).
The winner of St. John's-San Diego State will play in the Third Round on Sunday against the winner of No. 1 seed Duke and No. 16 North Florida/Robert Morris. Complete NCAA Tournament coverage is available at NCAA.com/March-Madness.
Things To Know
For the second-straight year, St. John's has 20+ wins marking the first time since 1998-99 and 1999-2000 the program reached the win plateau in back-to-back seasons. It is the ninth time Steve Lavin has recorded 20 wins in his 11 full seasons as a head coach.
The Red Storm finished with a winning BIG EAST record (10-8) for the third time in The Steve Lavin Era. Prior to Lavin's arrival in Queens, the last season St. John's finished with a record above .500 in the conference was 2001-02.
St. John's is 15-0 this season when holding opponents below 70 points. In these games, the Red Storm kept the opposition to a 34.7 field goal shooting percentage and 26.9 percent 3-point shooting mark.
- The Red Storm had three players rank among the top five in the BIG EAST in minutes played. D'Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene IV tied for third playing 34.7 minutes per game, while Sir'Dominic Pointer was fifth (34.5). Harrison and Greene are the only two players to start all 32 contests for St. John's this season. Harrison has started 88 straight games and Greene enters the NCAA Tournament with 44 consecutive starts.
- The Red Storm picked up five wins against teams in the RPI Top 50. Three of St. John's 11 non-conference victories were against teams in the RPI Top 100 - Syracuse, Minnesota and Saint Mary's. As a conference, the BIG EAST produced a combined 94-30 (.758) record against outside competition.
- Phil Greene IV and Sir'Dominic Pointer will each make their 130th career appearance for St. John's on Friday versus San Diego State. The seniors will tie Willie Glass (130, 1983-87) for the second most games played in program history and move one behind Mark Jackson (131, 1983-87) who owns the program record.
About the Series
St. John's will take on San Diego State for the first time in the program history. The Red Storm owns a 3-1 record all-time versus the current members of the Mountain West Conference.
St. John's last meeting with a league member was on Nov. 20, 1999 when the Johnnies rolled to a 70-62 victory over New Mexico in the CoSIDA Classic.
Steve Lavin is in his fifth year at St. John's. In 11 full seasons as a head coach he has a 226-130 (.635) record. Steve Fisher is in his 16th season at San Diego State. Fisher has a 522-266 (.662) career record in his 24-year head coaching career.
St. John's in the NCAA Tournament
- St. John's holds a 27-29 record in the NCAA Tournament all-time, from 1951-2011. The Red Storm has been to the Tournament on 27 prior occasions, reaching the title game in 1952 and the Final Four in 1985. St. John's is in the Top-25 in Division I for NCAA Tournament appearances.
St. John's last NCAA Tournament victory came in 2000. Playing as a No. 2 seed, St. John's defeated Northern Arizona, 61-56, in Tucson. As a No. 3 seed in 1999, St. John's advanced to the Elite Eight, with First and Second Round wins over Samford and Indiana in Orlando, Fla., and a South Regional Semifinal victory over Maryland in Knoxville, Tenn. Ohio State defeated the Red Storm, 77-74, in the South Regional Final.