The Road to the Final Four ends at Houston's Reliant Stadium, and while the rest of the Red Storm didn't make it, St. John's seniors Dwight Hardy and Justin Burrell at least had the opportunity to play a small role in the weekend festivities. Hardy competed in the three-point shooting competition, and Burrell took part in the dunk contest Thursday night with both being eliminated in the first round.
Hardy also will play in a college all-star game Friday night before the two return to their Queens campus on Saturday. "It was great," Burrell said of the skills competition. "I had a lot of fun. I'm so privileged to be a part of this."
Two weeks after the loss to Gonzaga that ended St. John's season after one game in the NCAA Tournament, the pain has begun to subside. "Now that it's a little bit behind us and it's not so sore and the wound is healing," Burrell said. "We're excited about what we did and we really understand that we're blessed to be in the situation to do what we did."
Hardy sounded as though he still might be having trouble letting go of the way the season ended. "When I watch the games, I feel like we should be there," he said of the NCAAs. "I feel like we should be there this weekend. But I'm trying to move on and get ready for bigger and better things in my life."
Getting to know some of the other all-stars from around the country has been fun, Hardy said. When he gets home, he will be involved in the process of selecting an agent, and he plans to attend the NBA's rookie draft camp next week in Portsmouth to let the scouts see what he can do against draft-eligible competition.
As for the Final Four, which matches Connecticut of the
Big East against Kentucky in one semifinal and mid-majors Butler and Virginia Commonwealth in the other semifinal, the two Red Storm plays naturally are pulling for UConn and point guard Kemba Walker, a player both know very well.
At the same time, Hardy said, "I've just got a funny feeling VCU is going to win it all. They had the play-in game and nobody wanted them in the tournament, and they've beaten tough teams like Purdue and Kansas. So, I just feel like they're a Cinderella story this year and they're going to pull it off.
"But I'm rooting for Kemba Walker. He's a great player. He's from the Bronx, so, it's not a surprise. We have great guards from the Bronx, including myself. I'm just surprised his teammates are helping, [Jeremy] Lamb and [Shabazz] Napier. They're all playing good. They're a great team."