St. John’s basketball will not compete in National Invitational Tournament.
The season is officially over for the St. John’s basketball program as the team announced on Sunday night that it would not compete in the 2021 NIT.
“First and foremost, I would like extend a giant salute to Coach [Mike] Anderson and his coaching staff, our student-athletes, the administrators and support staff, all of whom made this season possible by ensuring a healthy and safe environment for our team to compete,” Athletic Director Mike Cragg said in a statement.
The Red Storm did not have one positive test with a men’s basketball player or coach since arriving on campus for workouts during the summer.
St. John’s did have one COVID scare which forced a cancellation of a home contest against DePaul minutes before tipoff on January 2, although the test ended up being a false positive.
Head coach Mike Anderson initially said following the Red Storm’s loss to Seton Hall in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament that his team would continue to play if invited to the NIT, but the decision was not solely his.
Every member of the St. John’s basketball community played a factor into this decision, including players, coaches, and administrators.
In the end, the risk did not outweigh the reward for the Johnnies, a similar decision many other programs around the country are making.
The NIT bracket is scheduled to be revealed at 8:30pm EST (ESPNU) on Sunday, March 14 and the event will be held in a bubble setting in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
The state of Texas has recently fully reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic.
St. John’s basketball decision should not come as a surprise
Earlier in the season the Johnnies were scheduled to travel to Texas Tech for a non-conference game but canceled the trip over health and safety concerns.
“There is no question that in a normal year our University’s decision would be different as we would be honored to compete in the famed National Invitation Tournament, which our program has a long and storied history with an unprecedented 28 appearances and five championships,” Cragg continued.
“However, this has been far from a normal year as there have been tremendous mental and physical demands on everyone in our basketball program due to extensive COVID-19 protocols dating back to July that have taken their toll.”
While the end of the season is disappointing as St. John’s did not earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament, it was still a successful year for the Johnnies that ends with the reigning Big East Coach of the Year, Big East Freshman of the Year, and Big East Defensive Player of the Year residing in Queens.
St. John’s was predicted to finish 9th in the Big East Preseason Coaches Poll and started conference play with a 1-5 record, only to finish at 10-9 and earn the No. 4 seed in the Big East Tournament.
Entering the third year under head coach Mike Anderson, there is no question that the NCAA Tournament will be a realistic goal for a team that should retain most of its core players.