St. John’s basketball: Phil Martelli says Red Storm will have ‘special year’

St. John's basketball head coach Rick Pitino and Michigan interim head coach Phil Martelli (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images).
St. John's basketball head coach Rick Pitino and Michigan interim head coach Phil Martelli (Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images). /

Opposing coach says St. John’s basketball will have ‘special season’. 

Two legends of their industry were on the sidelines on Madison Square Garden on Monday night as the St. John’s basketball team hosted Michigan in what could have been the final installment of the Gavitt Games.

Rick Pitino, making his Garden debut with the Johnnies, had the spotlight firmly on the Red Storm as 14,188 people turned out for the event but were disappointed when the Wolverines outclassed St. John’s, 89-73.

However, Michigan (2-0) interim head coach Phil Martelli had no hesitancy when talking about Pitino and the Big East program about how good they are going to be this season.

“They’re going to have a special year and a special run with a Hall of Famer,” Martelli said.

ALSO READ: Rick Pitino very blunt about Red Storm’s frontcourt

The 69-year old was the long-time head coach of St. Joseph’s, where he won 444 games, before becoming an associate head coach at Michigan under Juwan Howard. Howard is still not coaching Michigan after undergoing heart surgery in September, but was in the building and at shootaround with the Wolverines.

“I just think everybody knows what it’s gonna be, 3-point shooting, pressure defense. It’s Rick Pitino at St. John’s. And is there a more perfect match in the country?”

“Naismith [the basketball Hall of Fame] doesn’t make mistakes, and Rick is in Naismith,” Martelli continued.

St. John’s basketball cannot reach level of veteran Wolverines

St. John’s (1-1) was within two points, 37-35, of Michigan with 2:55 to play in the first half before the Wolverines used an 11-3 run to go into halftime and carried that momentum over to the second half where its lead grew to as many as 26 points on multiple occasions.

“They’re going to have a great season. They’re really good,” Pitino said about Michigan, who was picked to finish 11th in the Preseason Big Ten Poll.

ALSO READ: Rick Pitino writes letter to St. John’s fanbase

“I don’t follow the Big Ten too much, but there’s not too many teams better than Michigan, I can assure you that.”

St. John’s will take the floor again shortly on Thursday afternoon (1:30p.m. ET ESPNU) against North Texas in the Charleston Classic.

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