St. John's basketball: Rick Pitino apologizes for comments following Seton Hall loss

Rick Pitino issued an apology for his comments after the recent St. John's basketball loss
Feb 13, 2024; Providence, Rhode Island, USA; St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino reacts to
Feb 13, 2024; Providence, Rhode Island, USA; St. John's Red Storm head coach Rick Pitino reacts to / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The media whirlwind hit the St. John's basketball program hard after Rick Pitino's comments on Sunday night following the Red Storm's loss to Seton Hall.

Pitino called out specific players for being "unathletic and slow laterally" and said this season was "the most unenjoyable of [his] career."

It not only hit the local airwaves in New York but got significant national media attention as well as he was widely criticized for speaking that way about his players.

After St. John's defeated Georgetown on Wednesday night, 90-85, to snap a 3-game losing streak Pitino issued an apology.

"It's my bad. I'm at fault," Pitino, who initially thought the comments were being blown out of proportion, told his team. "I should've never mentioned anybody by name. I didn't mean it, I was trying to talk typical clinic talk like I do."

"These guys have heard a lot worse in closed quarters."

Members of his coaching staff told him that a couple of players had their feelings hurt by his remarks.

"'I absolutely love you guys, I would never, ever want to embarrass you," Pitino explained what he told his team.

"I should've never, ever mention a name [of a player]. I'm a veteran coach...I've been really, really frustrated this season, for a lot of different reasons, but understand something, I recruited [Jordan Dingle], I recruited [RJ Luis]. My staff did not recruit these guys, it was all me...and I'm really, really proud to have them."

"I wasn't ripping them, that wasn't my intent, but words matter."

Pitino said that St. John's had its "best practice of the year" on Tuesday before leaving for Washington D.C., and it showed as the Johnnies shot a season-high 57.6-percent from the floor against the Hoyas.

"My family and my players, outside of breathing air, they're the most important thing in my life. That's why I'm still coaching today. They are the air that I breathe. I love them dearly. I would never want to embarrass them or hurt them."

The Hall of Famer also extended an apology to the St. John's fans, who have "treated him like royalty" since he's arrived in Queens, if any were offended by his comments.

"It did mean a lot," Jordan Dingle said about Pitino's apology to the team. "All of us know coach, we know how much he loves us and cares about us, and how much he cares about winning."

"I don't think guys took it too much to heart...I think it brought us a lot closer together as a unit. We love each other and all we have, is all we got."

Dingle finished with a career-high 22 points in the victory.

St. John's (15-12, 7-9 Big East) will hope to defeat its first ranked team of the season and pump some life back into its NCAA Tournament hopes on Sunday afternoon (12:00 p.m. ET, CBS) against No. 15 Creighton (20-7, 11-5 Big East).