The problem is he might have to become one to keep St. John’s a float.
After an outstanding 10-2 non-conference start to the season, the Red Storm have since dropped six consecutive conference showings and are now, bizarrely, without Marcus LoVett for the rest of the season.
Lovett, an All-Big East Rookie Team member last season, hasn’t played since November 26, only appearing in seven games this season. The expectation was that the combo guard, who has averaged 15.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting for his college career, would be back at some point.
Red Storm Head coach Chris Mullin even said so after the Red Storm’s narrow 69-66 defeat in Madison Square Garden to Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas last week.
“He’ll probably go on the floor tomorrow,” said Mullin of LoVett’s status, suggesting he would return to practice on January 10.
That same day, LoVett’s father, Marcus Sr., said that his son would be out for the remainder of the season, a message reiterated by his son on Twitter. This came three days after LoVett sent out a tweet that read:
“The last time I had this injury, I was a freshman (Redshirt) due to academics and I handled that well and came back and played last season. Now it happens again I’m going to handle it with ease.”
But it now appears that the Red Storm will be sans LoVett for the rest of the season. After back-to-back tight losses to Georgetown, and Saturday against the nation’s number-one team, the Villanova Wildcats, 78-71, the Johnnies are 0-6 in conference play and 10-8 overall.
Still, coach Mullin remains confident that his team will right their wrongs before it’s too late.
“I think this effort, which I’ve said a few times and it hasn’t happened yet, but this effort will get us wins,” he said after losing to Nova. “We played the number-one team in the country to a tie in the second half.
“I’m proud of my guys,” he continued. “I told them after the game, the effort is there, it really is. It’s been there for the most part, no question about that, we just have to do a little more and make winning plays. We will get there, there’s no question in my mind.”
Villanova head coach Jay Wright seems to be in agreement regarding St. John’s slow start.
“When they had LoVett, they were a really good team,” said Wright in a press conference loaded with praise directed at St. John’s. “Then you lose LoVett and I think you’re waiting to get him back, you’re kind of hanging, but now you know you don’t have him. They did a great job, they were tough.”
Of course, some of the losses did not come without some fireworks.
Tuesday, the Johnnies nearly spoiled Ewing’s Madison Square Garden homecoming, but were outlasted before the final buzzer.
Then on Saturday, they counterpunched seemingly every Villanova attack until the very end, but the Wildcats did just enough to win, despite a career-best 37-point explosion from Shamorie Ponds, LoVett’s backcourt mate.
“Whatever my performance was, we didn’t get the win, so I’m not satisfied,” Ponds said after the loss to Villanova.
Marvin Clark II, who struggled for five points against the Wildcats but had 15 points against Georgetown, says sooner or later his team will kick down the door.
“We just try to keep a positive mindset, like coach said,” he said on Saturday. “Once we get that first win, I feel like we’ll taste blood and we’ll be on a run.”
The LoVett-less Red Storm were scheduled to visit Xavier on January 17, followed by a rematch in Georgetown against the Hoyas three days later.