Today: Jun 25, 2024

Sports Commentary: MSG back to the Mecca of basketball

Pat Longobardi, Sports Writer

Heading into the later stages of their respective seasons, New York basketball teams are back playing meaningful basketball. The New York Knicks and the St. John’s Red Storm are getting national attention for their turnarounds, having great seasons, with potential playoff runs coming.

The Knicks have been planning for this turnaround for years. Owner James Dolan brought in a new coach, Mike D’Antoni, and a new team president, Donnie Walsh, with the philosophy that the team would work with what they had, and eventually get the money off the books for a run at the biggest free agents class yet in the summer of 2010. The teams then signed Amar’e Stoudemire, and are now in the running for Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks are 28-26, good for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. 

I think the Knicks are going to be a contender in the playoffs. Stoudemire has been nothing short of magnificent, rookie Landry Fields is having a great first year and Danilo Gallinari is having a breakout year. For the Knicks, getting to the playoffs is the hardest part. After that, anything can happen. The Knicks have been really tough at home this season. The Knicks have always been a draw at home, but this year has more spark to it. The team is playing without looking in the past.

Over the years, St. John’s has been in the bottom of the Big East Conference. Now, there is reason to ride the bandwagon again. 

St. John’s is back to there winning ways, playing better than many expected. After hiring former UCLA coach, Steve Lavin, who has brought in a new winning era to the this team, St. John’s is 16-9, 8-5 in the Big East Conference. They have keys win against Arizona State, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Duke and UConn. All of those wins were at home.

St. John’s has a great chance to make the NCAA Tournament. They are led by a lineup of four seniors including Dwight Hardy, Justin Brownlee and D.J. Kennedy. All they need to do now is take care of business. With four regular season games left before postseason play, St. John’s needs to beat the lower-tier teams, and play hard against the better teams, to get more tournament attention. With the tournament expanding this year, St. John’s has a great chance to storm into the postseason and scare some teams down the stretch.

Basketball has not been positive with the Knicks and St. John’s not playing well in recent years. New York can finally focus on playoff basketball again, taking steps in the right direction, and playing winning basketball again at the same time. What is unique is both teams are protecting home court. With both teams consistently packing in their games, especially at Madison Square Garden, and playing hard, the rest of the country has been put on notice that New York basketball is back to its rough and tough winning ways. 

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