Rick Pitino challenges St. John's basketball toughness after victory over Providence

Rick Pitino was not pleased with how the St. John's basketball team looked in its victory over Providence.

Jan 10, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino yells out
Jan 10, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino yells out / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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Rick Pitino has been around long enough to know what buttons to press with his St. John's basketball team.

He was pressing those buttons as he took his spot at the podium inside Madison Square Garden after the Red Storm held on to defeat Providence, 75-73, on Wednesday night.

"[Devin] Carter, by himself, was physically tougher than our entire team," Pitino said in his opening remarks.

The 6-foot-3 guard for the Friars went for a career-high 31 points and 13 rebounds while nearly completing the comeback by himself in the final minutes.

"I'm pissed off at my guys right now," the Hall of Famer explained. "It's okay because you can get upset when you win and you learn a lot of lessons."

"I have very high aspirations for them, very high goals for them, and I don't want them to do the things they did tonight."

But the mistakes didn't cost St. John's on this evening. They did just enough to win, extending its winning streak to four straight games, and matching its best start in conference play since 2000-01.

They've shown grit, toughness, and resilience and it should be celebrated by a small yet loyal fanbase that has been starving for a season like this, and its head coach is going to ensure that the team only gets better because he is obsessed with winning.

"You always have the option to play great defense," he continued. "And we played great defense and gave up second [chance] shots, and that's what really perturbs me."

"When the game is on the line, you have to get the ball and [Joel Soriano] has to come up with it."

Soriano, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, is following the words and advice of his head coach.

"I need to be better in a lot of aspects for our team to be great," he stated. "I didn’t rebound well today. I took a dumb shot late in the game. I have to make my free throws."

"I just got to be better overall for our team to succeed like we want to."

St. John's knows it didn't play its best game against Providence but it still found a way to win and that's the most important thing; winning. And with Rick Pitino at the helm, this team is going to win a lot of basketball games.

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