Had St. John's beaten Georgetown last season in Bethpage, New York (the Johnnies suffered a heartbreaking 13-14 overtime loss to the Hoyas, a defeat that ultimately kept the Red Storm out of the Big East Tournament and closed any legitimate paths to the NCAA Tournament), St. John's may have had a different kind of momentum driving the program into 2014. Even without that wave, though, the Johnnies look like a disruptive force in Division I lacrosse for the upcoming season, a fact that is impressive considering that the university restarted the program in 2005.
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
February 22: @Yale; March 4: @Drexel; March 8: v. Syracuse (Atlanta, G.A.); April 25: @Pennsylvania
Assuming that Denver has the inside track on the Big East's automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament, the possibility of St. John's participating in the NCAA Tournament likely hinges on whether it can compile a resume suitable for an at-large invitation. There's enough out-of-conference strength on the Johnnies' schedule to merit a serious look at the Red Storm, but the key for the Johnnies is going to be whether St. John's can actually bag some of these big kills. This is important for three reasons: (1) Quality wins matter to the selection committee; (2) Many of these teams may be in the at-large consideration pool, and head-to-head results matter to the selection committee; and (3) The at-large pool will likely feature a ton of teams fighting for only a handful of legitimately up-for-grabs spots. There's dissonance in the concept of determining one's destiny, but that's St. John's situation with this non-conference agenda.
The LIE Gridlock Memorial Trophy/Road Rage Experience
March 18: Hofstra; March 22: @Stony Brook
Regional dominance is important, especially on Long Island -- and I'm including Queens in the Long Island region -- where the game generates all kinds of talent and interest in the sport. Hofstra has traditionally been Long Island's Division I flashpoint, but the emergences of St. John's and Stony Brook has eroded the Pride's kung-fu grip on the region. That's why the Johnnies' dates against Pride and Seawolves are so important for the volition of the St. John's program: Letting the Long Island pipeline flow freely and capturing the imagination of lacrosse-dominated minds in the area can create value in the future. Now, the Johnnies haven't had great results against Stony Brook and Hofstra since the program rose like a phoenix from the ashes in 2005 -- the Johnnies are 1-3 against the Seawolves since 2005 and hold the same record since 2005 against the Pride -- but the Red Storm have increased their competitiveness against these two programs over the last two or three seasons. How St. John's performs in these two games is as important as how the Red Storm moves through their Big East schedule given the potential rewards of a sweep of these games.
All Politics is Local
April 12: @Denver; April 19: Villanova
Someone at the Big East office has it in for St. John's: The Johnnies need to close their conference campaign with its hardest two opponents, forcing the Red Storm to start that stretch with a difficult trek to Colorado. That's a tough way to end April and move toward the Big East Tournament. Godspeed.