St. John's Glenn Taylor Jr. (35) goes for the three-point...

St. John's Glenn Taylor Jr. (35) goes for the three-point shot as the St. John Red Storm take on the Butler Bulldogs in NCAA basketball, Feb 28, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; at Butler University Hinkle Fieldhouse. Gary Brockman/For Newsday Credit: Gary Brockman-For Newsday/Gary Brockman

This is usually how it happens in a season that turns out special.

Every team has its stars and go-to guys who create the foundation. Then there’s an unanticipated contribution, that needed little bit of magic, and good becomes great.

Mets fans remember Daniel Murphy hitting seven postseason home runs to propel the Mets to the 2015 World Series after hitting only 14 in the regular season. St. John’s fans will recall distributing point guard Phil Greene IV averaging 15.6 points as the 2014-15 Red Storm won four of five to close the regular season and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Glenn Taylor Jr. may be that guy this season.

The Red Storm have resurrected their chances for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid with three straight wins. They’ve played their best basketball in the past two games, and Taylor has been central.

In the 80-66 win over then-No. 15 Creighton at the Garden on Feb. 25, he had 10 rebounds and six assists. In the 82-59 win at Butler on Wednesday, he had 17 points (five three-pointers), three steals and three assists.

“It’s amazing to see, because we see it in practice every day,” Chris Ledlum said. “It’s just amazing to see his growth and [him] starting to put it together in the games.”

St. John’s road toward the NCAA Tournament brings it to last-place DePaul (3-26, 0-18 Big East) on Tuesday at 9 p.m. The Blue Demons have lost 17 in a row. The Red Storm (17-12, 9-9) absolutely must win to achieve their goal and can improve their metrics by winning handily.

Taylor’s big contributions in the Red Storm’s two best games might have been hard to forecast. The Oregon State transfer was a starter in 12 of the first 13 games but started only three of the next 13. In some of those games, he barely saw time at all.

Taylor said he might have moped in previous seasons, but not so much this year as he matured. He is an exemplary team player, dedicated to his teammates, and that may have played a role in the struggles.

“I just decided to keep it short,” Taylor said Monday. “I was thinking too much in the early games .  .  . Trying to be perfect for the team.”

The Red Storm have six players who are in their final college basketball season, four of whom haven’t been to an NCAA Tournament. Taylor was desperate for them to get that and said that desperation might have taken him out of his game.

“[We have] a lot of fifth-year guys,” he said. “You just want to win for [those] guys, man, in their last year. So I feel like that was a big thing, knowing I thought I had to be perfect for [those] guys. Just really want to get [those] guys going out on top. I know a lot of us haven’t won, even the younger guys — that was a big thing.”

Taylor’s assists show his ability to make the smart play, but he has become a significant weapon on the three-point arc. As a freshman with the Beavers, he made 28% of his three-point attempts.  That number increased to 31% in his sophomore season. His 44% shooting from beyond the arc this season stands out on a team that is making 31% of its threes.

Like every other member of the Red Storm, Taylor does individual workouts with Rick Pitino during the day before practice. He said that from the beginning, the Hall of Fame coach has implored him to use more arc on his shot, “make or miss,” he said.

“I feel like every shot I take I’m going to make now,” Taylor said. “I feel like I have so much confidence in my shots. It just feels good. And I feel like that’s the credit of the work I put in.”

DePaul, on paper, looks like no challenge. But Taylor said the Red Storm are in a different gear now in which they play to be as good as they can.

“Where our mindset is right now, I feel like every game is a tournament game for us,” he said. “The guys are really locked down right now. We know this game is a huge game for us. We know we’ve got to get this game, so everybody’s pretty much locked into this game.”

Will this be a special season for the Red Storm, who haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2019? Time will tell, but the rise of Taylor sets the stage.

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