Monday, November 6, 2023

St. John's, Pitino Primed To Open Season On Tuesday Night


The 2023-24 St. John's Red Storm. @StJohnsBball.

Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena, the Rick Pitino era will begin for the St. John's Red Storm, as the head coach leads them in the season opener against Stony Brook.

Pitino is a Naismith Memorial Hal of Famer who is a two-time National Champion who has won 834 games as the winningest active coach in NCAA Division 1.

After the roster overhaul Pitino completed, St. John's received votes in the AP Preseason Top 25 Poll for the first time since the 2018-19 season. The Red Storm received 47 votes, the third-most by teams outside of the rankings and was one of six Big East teams to collect votes in the poll. St. John's was ranked fifth in the Preseason Big East Conference coaches' poll.

All fans attending the opener at The Lou (credit to colleague Josh Adams) will receive a commemorative ticket in honor of Pitino, and the first 2,500 fans will receive a free t-shirt courtesy of Maspeth Federal Savings.

Pitino Pregame: Pitino addressed the media on Monday afternoon ahead of the game, and here's a sampling of what he said:

On Tuesday's matchup: "This Stony Brook team reminds me of my Iona team last year. They have great size, three guys 6'11" or better, a lot of transfers who shoot the ball great. They are a lot bigger than us and they have been very impressive in two scrimmages. This is a tough opener because they are a strong mid-major team. [Stony Brook] Coach [Geno Ford] has said this is one of the best Stony Brook teams he's had. A lot of transfers, a lot of size, people that can shoot the basketball and put it on the floor. This is a very good basketball team."

On team's chemistry on and off the court: "They are all getting to know each other's strengths and weaknesses. They are getting to know each other as well as getting to know me and I'm getting to know them. I will say, most coaches brag about their players being good people. I haven't come across, in my lifetime, 14 young men like this. When they ask if the players are any different [in] today's [generation], yes, they are different. This group is so much better than anything I've ever experienced as young men. Their parents really have done a fabulous job raising them. They know how to act. They practice hard every day. I think Joel [Soriano] would say our practices are fun. The coaches have fun coaching them, the players have fun playing."

On team's capabilities: "This team is not going to reach their potential until mid-January or early February because we've had a brash of injuries and they are new to each other. Most of my teams don't play well in the beginning with the exception of one or two teams in my coaching career. They always get better come league play in January and February. It takes time to learn all the different defenses, all of the offenses and these are 14 new guys learning each other, as well as learning a new system. We're not going to look great early on, but we will give 100 percent of hustle. Fans are going to be like what they are going to see from an intensity standpoint and a hustle standpoint."

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