Rick Pitino takes blame for lackluster UBS Arena crowd, wants better vs. Seton Hall

Rick Pitino is taking the blame for thr lackluster crowd at UBS Arena but is expecting better for the final St. John's game at the venue

Feb 6, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino yells out
Feb 6, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino yells out / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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The games at UBS Arena have not gone according to plan for Rick Pitino and St. John's.

Yes, the Red Storm have won both matchups against Hofstra and DePaul, but the atmospheres have not come close to creating a real homecourt advantage for the Johnnies.

Pitino will shoulder the blame for that.

"I think the bobblehead f---ed up this crowd entirely," he joked as the first 4,000 fans in attendance for the Johnnies' 85-57 victory over the Blue Demons went home with a Rick Pitino replica bobblehead.

"Mike Cragg is a fabulous athletic director," Pitino continued. "This is on me. I just midread things."

"[First], I didn't know Carnesecca [Arena] was as strong a homecourt as it was...[Second], I thought we get 10, 13 thousand, 14 thousand people. I thought we'd get a big Long Island crowd."

The announced attendance on Tuesday night was 6,035 and for its December 30 game against Hofstra is was 7,486.

St. John's announced a soldout crowd for each of its four games on campus this season at 5,602 people. Saturday afternoon against No. 1 UConn was the first sellout at Madison Square Garden this season, although a large number of Husky fans helped boost that number.

The Red Storm (14-9, 6-6 Big East) have averaged 13,937 fans in its six MSG games this year.

"[UBS Arena] is a really good place, but fans can watch the Knicks, get ready for the Super Bowl, it's the last place team [St. John's was playing]," Pitino said. "It's not that they don't want to support us."

"I don't blame the fans...but I think [the crowd and atmosphere] will improve for Seton Hall."

After a grueling two game road trip, which begins on Saturday night (6:00 p.m. ET, FS1) against No. 7 Marquette (17-5, 8-3 Big East), the next St. John's home game will be back at UBS Arena on Sunday, February 18 (5:00 p.m. ET, FS1) in a critical showdown for its NCAA Tournament hopes with the Pirates (14-8, 7-4 Big East).

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