St. John’s basketball: Rick Pitino shreds into defense after Dayton loss

St. John's basketball head coach Rick Pitino (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
St. John's basketball head coach Rick Pitino (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

St. John’s basketball head coach Rick Pitino did not hold back on his team’s defense. 

Rick Pitino was blunt. Probably as blunt as he has been as the St. John’s basketball head coach since he said most of the players from Mike Anderson’s tenure would not return.

And who could blame him?

The Red Storm let a chance at victory against Dayton in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic slip through its fingers because it could not get a stop on defense.

“We are losing because we cannot pay attention to a scouting report,” the Hall of Famer said as after his team fell, 88-81, to the Flyers.

“It’s so disappointing.”

Michigan and Dayton have combined to shoot 51.6-percent from the field and 41.8-percent from 3-point range against the Johnnies and as St. John’s up 88.5 points per game in those two losses.

Two of the Red Storm’s biggest additions this offseason, Penn transfer Jordan Dingle and Harvard transfer Chris Ledlum, are still struggling to grasp the concepts of Pitino’s defense.

“They’re offensive minded people, there’s nothing wrong with that, but guard people!” Pitino explained.

“Pay attention to scouting! Guard people!”

Ledlum, who was 7-for-15 from the field against Stony Brook, is just 5-of-24 in his last three games.

ALSO READ: St. John’s defense overwhelmed in second half in loss to Dayton

It’s obvious he’s not playing well, so the way to make up for it is to play awesome defense,” Pitino stated of one of his latest additions in the transfer portal this offseason.

“If he drops the ball going baseline and misses a shot, that’s just part of basketball. But it’s not apart of basketball when you give someone his right hand, who’s right hand dominant.”

Dayton scored 50 points in the second half and used the Red Storm’s inability to stay in front of the Flyers to attempt 24 free throws in its comeback victory.

“It’s going to take time with these guys, it’s going to take time. They’ve never guarded in their lives.”

North Texas, which St. John’s defeated on Thursday with an incredible defensive performance, is the only team to be held under 43-percent shooting against the Red Storm this season.

“We are making key mental mistakes defensively.”

St. John’s basketball hoping veteran can lead the charge defensively

Daniss Jenkins, one of three players that came to St. John’s from Iona with Rick Pitino, is trying to be a leader on defense with this inexperienced team.

“I think it’s just about having a defensive mindset as a team. We have to find our identify on the defensive end,” Jenkins said after the loss.

The veteran says he thinks this is the best defensive system players could thrive in, “For me [understanding the defensive concepts], is pretty easy.”

“I love this style of defense. You just play for a steal, you are always going hard.”

“Defense has always been my type of thing,” Jenkins added, who finished with 12 points and eight assists.

ALSO READ: Daniss Jenkins not worried about turnover issues

“I love playing defense and playing for steals because you can’t play scared. If you get beat, the next man steps up and everyone is just scrambling the whole time. That’s how it should be.”

St. John’s forced 14 turnovers in the game, albeit just three in the second half.

Pitino provided a blunt assessment of where his team stands and what the state of the program could be if things do not get turned around quickly.

“It’s all going to come together, but if we keep on losing, it’s going to be next season.”

St. John’s will have the opportunity to get back in the win column in the 3rd Place Game of the Charleston Classic on Sunday evening (5:30p.m. ET, ESPN2) against Utah (3-1).

Next. St. John’s looking to give more minutes to 4-star freshman. dark