NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Head coach Steve Lavin of the St. John's Red Storm speaks during a time out against the Syracuse Orange during the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 10, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
It took a long, long time to hear Gonzaga's name called today but the stage is finally set. The Bulldogs of Gonzaga will take on St. John's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It will be a very interesting matchup as the Johnnies are one of the 48 Big East teams in the tournament and have surprised most of the nation with their solid play throughout the season under new head coach Steve Lavin.
First thought on this bracket...I dig it. Gonzaga's first round match up with St. John's will take place in Denver so there is no travel gripe. Not only that, but St. John's is coming in with a bit of a limp having recently lost D.J. Kennedy to a torn ACL. Kennedy was a senior leader for the young and in-transition Red Storm team and was averaging about 10 points a game and led the Johnnies in rebounds with nearly six a game. The loss is huge for St. John's but it is by no means a death blow. Dwight Hardy and Justin Brownlee are a remarkable one-two punch and they have some youth like Dwayne Polee that could step up in Kennedy's absence.
Lots more to come on this but this is for all reactions!
Update: Here's a snippet from SB Nation's St. John's blog "Rumble in the Garden". Yet again, I'm fascinated by the East Coast fan:
Years later, the Bulldogs staved off a challenge from the St. Mary's Gaels in the West Coast Conference to get in the Tournament. They're tall and defend the paint well, but struggle... to handle the ball at times. This year, the #11 seeded Bulldogs will look to once again become national darlings; but there's no way for them to prepare for what is basically a new team that St. John's will bring to Denver.
You heard them, Zag fans, BE AFRAID! No one can stop the Johnnies in Denver!!!