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February 23, 2011While their recent winning streak has somewhat satiated Red Storm nation's hunger for winning basketball in Queens, the Johnnies still have work to do in the next three weeks before selection Sunday.
They have all but secured an at-large bid to the Big Dance due, in large part, to the difficulty of their schedule and unprecedented success against top 25 opponents. But if they want to have a shot at making it deep into the tournament, Lavin's side will need to ensure that they do not get complacent or satisfied with what they have accomplished so far. Here are a few keys to obtaining that coveted high seed in March.
First, and perhaps the most important factor in their quest for a desirable seed, will be their showing in the Big East Tournament. The Red Storm has owned Madison Square Garden this year, rattling off all five of their most impressive victories in the world's most famous arena. This should give St. Johns the confidence that they can be very successful in this tournament and if they do knock off a few teams, it will do wonders for their resume.
Continued dominance and clutch play from Dwight Hardy is also pivotal for the Johnnies going forward. The Bronx native has been tabbed as the Big East Player of the Week two weeks running. He drained a difficult game-winner against Pittsburg and dropped a cool 28 against Marquette. In fact, during St John's current four game win streak the senior's averaged 24.5 points per game. If he can remain as confident as he looks, the Johnnies will be in great shape down the stretch.
Finally, improvement on the glass will be necessary if the Red Storm hopes to be in the conversation of a #3 or #4 seed. D.J. Kennedy and Justin Burrell are their best rebounders and only nab an underwhelming 5.5, 5.4 per contest respectively. And they rank a terrible 306th in the nation with just 31.9 boards per game. St. Johns could also stand to make some changes defensively, as well; specifically by guarding the three-point line more aggressively. They concede an average of 7.7 each game. The best teams around take care of these two categories and the Johnnies will need to do so as well in the final weeks of the regular season.
Undoubtedly, the St John's fan base should be very excited with what the Johnnies are doing this season but their mission is not complete. The Red Storm oozes swagger, is disciplined, and capable of beating any team on any night. They need to focus on improving each day and let their first trip, and potential decent seed, to the Big Dance in years act as their main motivation for success. It certainly is on the minds of Red Storm Nation.