Coming off a fourth straight loss in Big East play Tuesday night at Rutgers, St. John's coach Norm Roberts threatened to make changes in his lineup or rotation. But after a couple of practices, Roberts is going with the same starting five against No. 6 West Virginia at noon Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
That means Paris Horne and Malik Boothe in the backcourt with center Sean Evans and forwards D.J. Kennedy and Anthony Mason Jr. If there are changes, Roberts said today, it's likely to be minor tweaks to the rotation.
Reflecting on St. John's 84-72 loss to the Scarlet Knights, Roberts said, "Actually, we got hurt when we went to our bench, and that hasn't happened all year. Usually, the bench gives us a nice boost. From the 13-minute mark to the seven-minute mark, we got outscored by 12, and that happened with our bench players. We've got to get positives from everybody."
Things certainly won't get any easier for the Red Storm (12-9, 2-7 Big East) against the Mountaineers (18-3, 7-2). Roberts called them the "best rebounding team in the country by far." They undoubtedly have the best front line in the Big East with forwards Da'Sean Butler (16.6 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists), Kevin Jones (14.2 points, 7.6 rebounds) and Devin Ebanks (11.1 points, 8.6 rebounds). In their last win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Turkish transfer Deniz Kilicli, who is 6-9, 265 pounds, made his season debut with nine points in just seven minutes.
If the losing continues for the Red Storm, which has lost eight of their past 10 games, pressure is sure to mount on Roberts, who is in his sixth season at the helm. "People want wins; I want wins; nobody wants to win more than we do," Roberts said. "But we've got to go out and do it. I can understand people being frustrated, but when things don't go your way in life, you've just got to work harder. You've got to work smarter, be more detailed and support each other in that situation…There's some adversity right now, and it will make you stronger."