How Much Patience in Jamaica?
Roberts has cleaned up the program, the administration is putting money back into the basketball team, the NCAA punishments are finished and it has been a clean program under Roberts. All very good things.
What hasn't happened is noticeable improvement of the actual team. They showed signs of improvement early in the Big East last year with some big wins against Syracuse and Pitt, then they played UConn at Gampel very tough. Then they fell apart the rest of the way. They missed the BE Tournament for yet another year (self-imposed ban on the BE Tournament the previous year for their NCAA infractions).
The team has tough, talented players like Anthony Mason, Jr., Lamont Hamilton, Daryll Hill and Eugene Lawrence. They play a tight, stifling defense. They don't have depth still. They also seem to be taking a step backwards this year. Losing games to Illinois St. and Hofstra; and struggling mightily against teams like Columbia and Boston University (not College). Even getting a tough game from the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders. The problem has been getting enough offense in games.
It's probably not fair to Coach Roberts, but he will get compared to another team and coach hired around the same time he was to bring back a once dominant Big East team. Georgetown and John Thompson III. The problems not nearly so daunting, but Georgetown is also making big noise with top recruiting classes while St. John's is still struggling to get big recruits.
Only adding to the stress is the fact that the New Jersey Big East schools have made coaching changes. Rutgers went with Fred Hill, a strong recruiter in NJ and Philly, while Seton Hall grabbed Bobby Gonzalez from Manhattan -- who has enjoyed more success than St. John's in recent years.
That Seton Hall controlled the tempo and blew out St. John's in the second half tonight will only put more pressure on Roberts to show that he is actually making enough progress with the Red Storm fast enough to satisfy the fans, alumni and administration. St. John's fought back from a steep first half deficit, and even had the lead 2 minutes into the second half. The Pirates then outscored the Red Storm 36-18, the rest of the way. St. John's couldn't make stops on defense and were not able to get enough offense