Postponement but no Covid pause for Johnnies 1

St. John’s returned to action Wednesday after a 17-day layoff, the longest in-season break for the team in 26 years.

A plethora of postponements has plagued the college basketball season and St. John’s had to call off its game against DePaul last Saturday less than an hour before tip-off.

A Covid-related issue was given as the reason and speculation began that the Red Storm would have to pause activities for two weeks.

But it turned out testing irregularities were the cause following testing of tier one personnel, which includes players, coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists, medical staff, equipment staff and officials.

The Johnnies announced Monday they would resume team activities and Wednesday’s game at Xavier was on.

“While the decision to postpone Sunday’s game was a tough one, we remain confident that we made the right choice,” SJU Athletic Director Mike Cragg said. “To be sure, we are equally relieved and thrilled that follow-up testing has delivered good news and that we’re set to resume our schedule.”

Head coach Mike Anderson added, “Our kids and our fans have been tremendous in their patience and understanding of this obviously sensitive issue. We can’t wait to get back on the court and continue with the season.”

It’s been a season that makes fans check the schedules each day. Seton Hall has played 12 games, including six in conference. DePaul has played three, going 0-2 in Big East play.

The postponements were to be expected, as they have been in other sports. The NCAA lowered the minimum number of games to qualify for the tournament to 13 in light of possible cancellations.

How St. John’s will respond after a long layoff remains to be seen.

A game in late December against Villanova was also postponed with the schools allowing students to go home for the holidays.

The 17-day layoff is the longest in-season delay for the Red Storm since December 1994, when St. John’s had no games because of final exams. Before that, the last 17-day layoff came in 1937, the first season under legendary coach Joe Lapchick.

In the time between Red Storm games, the football Giants saw unlikely playoff dreams dashed and the Jets won enough to cost themselves the top pick in the draft. The Knicks have become a scrappy team with a winning record. Rutgers is the best college basketball team in the tri-state area, being ranked No. 11, its highest since 1976. And actress Tanya Roberts of “A View to a Kill” fame was reported dead twice.

More than two weeks ago, St. John’s won a Big East contest after three defeats. They made 13 three-pointers, including 10 in the first half in a victory over Georgetown.

Anderson’s Johnnies were considered by many to be a defense-first team but, despite the 1-3 conference record, led the conference with 82.6 points per game heading into Wednesday night.

As a refresher, as of Wednesday sophomore guard Julian Champagnie led the team with 20.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Greg Williams Jr., Vince Cole, Isaih Moore and Posh Alexander all averaged in double-digit scoring, with the latter leading the team with 4.2 assists per game.

Now the Red Storm will find out if they can shake off the rust in 2021.

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