Rick Pitino unleashes on St. John’s facilities, players following loss to Seton Hall

Rick Pitino unleashes on St. John’s facilities, players following loss to Seton Hall

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St. John’s coach Rick Pitino didn’t mince words after the Red Storm lost 68-62 to Seton Hall on Sunday. The 71-year-old went on a tirade in his postgame availability, criticizing the team’s facilities, going after his players, and declaring his first season with St. John’s “the most unenjoyable experience of my lifetime.”

“Do we have s—y facilities? Yes we do,” Pitino said. “Having s—y facilities has nothing to do with not guarding.”

It was a promising start for St. John’s at UBS Arena. At the half, the Red Storm led 41-29. St. John’s largest lead was 19 points. Seton Hall erased its first-half deficit with 8:13 remaining in the second half when senior guard Al-Amir Dawes converted a layup. St. John’s went up by one point, 53-52, with 5:22 to go but it would be the Red Storm’s last lead. Seton Hall went on a 12-2 run to go up 64-55 with 1:03 remaining. Dawes ended with a game-high 19 points while senior guard Kadary Richmond finished with a double-double of 18 points (14 in the second half) and 11 rebounds.

Seton Hall limited St. John’s to 33.8 percent shooting from the floor (23-of-68) and 24 percent from beyond the arc (6-of-25). The Red Storm committed 15 turnovers. Pitino did not hold back when discussing individual players, singling them out for their movement and physicality on the court.

“Look: Joel [Soriano]’s slow laterally, he’s not fast on the court,” Pitino said. “Chris Ludlum is slow laterally, Sean Conway’s slow laterally. Brady [Dunlap]’s physically weak, Drissa [Traore] is slow laterally.”

Pitino said that the team “lost this season the way we recruited.” He said that the players don’t align with how he coaches.

“We recruited the antithesis of the way I coach, with speed, quickness, fundamentals, strength and toughness,” Pitino said. “It’s a good group, they try hard, but they’re just not very tough.”

On Jan. 10, after beating Providence at home, St. John’s was 12-4, ranked 34th in the NET and looking well on its way to going to the NCAA Tournament in Pitino’s first season. Since then, the Red Storm have lost eight of their last 10 games to fall off the bubble. At this point, they would have to win the Big East tournament to get into the dance.

When Pitino had his first news conference after taking the job last March, he said, “a lot of these players probably won’t be back on this team because they’re probably not a good fit for me.” He was true to his word, bringing in 11 new players and losing productive ones like AJ Storr (Wisconsin), David Jones (Memphis), Posh Alexander (Butler) and O’Mar Stanley (Boise State). Now he’s blaming many of the players he brought in as not being good enough.

It’s reminiscent of Pitino’s famous “Larry Bird is not walking through that door” rant when he was coach of the Boston Celtics — even though he was responsible for most of that roster too.

This is just classic Pitino. When things aren’t going well, he’s truly miserable. The good news is, at least in his college career, things don’t stay miserable under his coaching for very long. Pitino has won two national championships (the 2013 title at Louisville was later vacated) and has appeared in seven Final Fours. He is the first coach to take three different schools (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville) to the national semifinals. Pitino also coached in the NBA with the New York Knicks (1987-89) and Celtics (1997-2001). Before St. John’s, Pitino coached Iona from 2020 to 2023, leading the Gaels to two NCAA Tournament appearances.

After Sunday’s loss, St. John’s is 14-12 and ninth in the Big East conference standings. The Red Storm’s next game is Wednesday on the road against Georgetown. Pitino — the Hall-of-Fame coach — did not exude confidence.

“I’m just getting ready for Georgetown because Georgetown can definitely beat us.”

Required reading

(Photo: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images)

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