St. John’s and Syracuse both claim to be “New York’s Team,” which can happen when two of the NCAA’s all-time winningest teams fight over City bragging rights.
“You have two programs with great history and tradition,” said St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin, after his team’s 68-63 loss on Sunday. Despite the loss, Levin stressed “We are New York City’s team.”
The two schools have squared off almost 90 times since 1912, with Syracuse now leading the all-time series 51-37. Sunday’s game meant a little more with Syracuse now in the ACC, after being in the Big East with St. John’s since its inception in 1979.
“It hurts to lose but it hurts to lose to Syracuse in particular,” said D’Angelo Harrison, who scored a team-high 21 points.
St. John’s trailed the number-two ranked team in the country by as many as 14 before taking the lead in the second half, only to fall short of an upset.
Lavin downplayed any talk of a moral victory, saying “This is our home court and we came to win today.”
He said he did not recognize his team, which came out flat in front of a Garden crowd of more than 16,000, even comparing it to the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
Still, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, who has been coaching at the school since 1976 – when Lavin was 12 years old – seemed impressed with the progress of the Red Storm.
“I think St. John’s is a much improved team from what I’ve seen,” Boeheim said.
– David Russell