A Sad Reminder of NY College Hoops

In the late ’90’s the Duke-St.John’s series had intrigue, a classic battle of two Top Ten teams at the Garden where the Johnnies pushed eventual Nation runner-up Duke into OT behind Bootsy Thornton’s 40 points. A year later, unranked St. Johns stormed into Cameron Indoor, stealing a one point win, a rarity for non-league opponents at Duke. In the early 1990’s the two historically successful universities squared off in multiple middle-round NCAA tournament games. Since that run upset at Cameron, St. Johns has dropped six of the last seven in convincing fashion  – in line with the overall demise of the program.

Coach K likes playing a big out of conference opponent under the spotlight late in the season to prepare his team for the NCAA atmosphere, his rationale for late season match-ups at the Garden. That theory no longer applies here. The Red Storm are a laughing stock, most mid-majors on this Bracket Buster Saturday pose a bigger threat to Duke. Madison Square Garden will transform into Cameron Indoor Northeast, as it does for each St. John’s opponent, unless its completely empty. Continuing this series, played on national television late in the season when all eyes are inevitably Duke, adds insult to injury for an already damaged program with no recovery in site.

For those that remember the glory days of Louie Carnesecca, or even the promise of Fran Fraschilla’s teams and the early Jarvis years, it hurts. The Red Storm no longer matter. Across the river, once formidable Seton Hall faces the same predicament,  with a slightly brighter light at the end of the tunnel. Duke still looks forward to the game – except instead of a barometer test, its an easy win to snap a mini-losing skid.

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