St. John's basketball happy with bye weekend despite winning streak

Rick Pitino is hoping his team can get healthy while not playing
Feb 28, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  St. John's Red Storm guard Daniss Jenkins (5) talks with
Feb 28, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; St. John's Red Storm guard Daniss Jenkins (5) talks with / Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Common sense says the St. John's basketball bye weekend is coming at the worst time possible for the Red Storm. Rick Pitino disagrees.

The Johnnies have catapulted themselves back into the NCAA Tournament bubble after three consecutive wins, the latter two being the most important against then No. 15 Creighton and Butler.

Each was a Quad 1 win for the Red Storm, which have accumulated four such victories this season. That number can grow with a strong finish to the season by Villanova.

However, the Hall of Fame coach sees room for improvement with his team during its time off.

"I think it's a great thing," Pitino responded when asked about the timing of the bye.

He cited the chance for players to heal from nagging injuries suffered throughout the season, but specifically pointed out the toughness of Chris Ledlum and what he has battled through this year.

"[Ledlum] has been hurt the whole year," Pitino continued. "95-percent of the people would not play with how banged up he's been."

The Harvard transfer has only missed two games this season after suffering an ankle injury against UConn on December 23. Ledlum did not play in the Red Storm's next game against Hofstra on December 30 and then reaggravated the injury on January 2 against Butler in the opening minutes of the game.

He would finish the game but be ruled out of St. John's victory against Villanova on January 6.

Pitino mentioned that Ledlum never expresses to the coaching staff that he is injured and is always available, but constantly is getting treatment when the team isn't on the floor.

Jordan Dingle, RJ Luis, and Nahiem Alleyne are other key rotational pieces that have missed games this season due to injury.

St. John's is hoping to continue its strong play as it closes the regular season with two winnable games against conference bottom feeders DePaul (3-25, 0-17 Big East) on Tuesday night (9:00 p.m. ET, FS1) in Chicago and Georgetown (9-19, 2-15 Big East) inside Madison Square Garden on March 9 (12:00 p.m ET, FOX) prior to the Big East Tournament.