St. John’s men’s basketball team still can qualify for the NCAA Tournament field simply by winning the Big East Tournament this week at the Garden, starting with a Wednesday night game against Marquette.
OK, perhaps it is a longshot, what with the Red Storm’s 1-17 conference record this season under first-year coach Chris Mullin.
Still, Dick Vitale — who has been at ESPN since around the time Mullin transferred from Power Memorial in Manhattan to Brooklyn’s Xaverian for his junior season of high school ball — is bullish on the program’s future.
“Certainly St. John’s came in, unfortunately for Chris, with very limited talent and limited personnel and then the loss of [Marcus] LoVett,” Vitale said Thursday. “I think Chris Mullin will get it done. I think he is going to recruit big-time. He certainly has a great staff with him. I think that staff is going to recruit.
“They have some quality recruits coming in. Now, you never know until they have to lace them up and play for real. But on paper coming in it looks like he’s going to have a lot stronger team next season than what he was able to put on the floor this year.
“Chris has a magical name. Kids basically are going to want to play for him in New York City, and Slice [Barry Rohrssen], his assistant, is phenomenal. He works like you cannot believe. So I think the future is going to be bright. I know this year was a feeling out process.”