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Former St. John’s guard Amir Garrett dazzles in MLB debut for Cincinnati Reds

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Former St. John’s guard Amir Garrett had a very successful Major League debut on Friday night as the Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher went six scoreless innings to help earn a 2-0 road win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Garrett struck out four and walked two while giving up two hits as he went 1-0 on the season.

Before becoming the Reds’ No. 1 pitching prospect, Garrett was a four-star prospect from the Class of 2011 who played two seasons for head coach Steve Lavin at St. John’s before transferring out of the program after the 2012-13 season. Selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 22nd round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Garrett was allowed to play for the Red Storm while he pitched in the minors when he wasn’t in school.

The 6-foot-5 lefty had his best season of basketball as a freshman, putting up 7.4 points per game while averaging 26.9 minutes per contest.

By putting up six scoreless innings to earn the win, Garrett was only the second Reds pitcher in the last 100 years to throw 6+ scoreless innings in his MLB debut. It looks like Garrett made the right choice in terms of his professional sport as the 24-year-old southpaw appears to have a positive future for the Reds.

Villanova dominates St. John’s in record-setting win

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NEW YORK (AP) Villanova may not have played the perfect game but the Wildcats weren’t far off.

Want some proof?

The second-ranked and top-seeded Wildcats shot 63.2 percent (36 for 57) and committed just five turnovers in a record-setting 108-67 victory Thursday over St. John’s in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.

Villanova shot better than 50 percent from 3-point range (15 for 29), made 21 of 25 free throws and only committed seven personal fouls, none in the first half.

It was the most points and largest margin of victory in the tournament for Villanova and it was the worst loss the Red Storm ever endured.

“That was a pretty good effort for us defensively. It really was,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “And again that is maturity. It’s experience. … I think our guys had a great grasp of the scouting report and I think they played very intelligently.”

Donte DiVincenzo had 25 points and Kris Jenkins added 24 for the Wildcats, who had six players score in double figures.

DiVincenzo, a redshirt freshman who finished 7 of 8 from the field, including 5 of 6 on 3s, surpassed his previous career high of 20 points, also set against St. John’s.

“Going into the game I was confident as in every game,” DiVincenzo said. “But the only thing I can say about the 25 is it’s all because of the seniors and Jalen (Brunson) and E (Eric Paschal). Everybody was making the right play and I found myself open and today I was knocking down shots.”

The Wildcats (29-3) will face the winner of the Marquette-Seton Hall game in the semifinals on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats took command from the start and led 52-26 at halftime.

Villanova shot 51.5 percent (17 of 33) in the first half, including 9 of 20 from 3-point range. The Wildcats committed just three turnovers, held St. John’s scoreless for a 6-minute stretch and outrebounded the Red Storm 21-13. Jenkins hit a long 3 at the halftime buzzer after a Villanova timeout with 3.3 seconds to play.

Bashir Ahmed and Marcus LoVett both scored 12 points for the eighth-seeded Red Storm (14-19), who beat Georgetown 74-73 in the opening round to snap a six-year losing streak in the Big East Tournament. St. John’s had twice lost by 29 points in the tournament.

“Villanova is one of the best teams in the country. So give all credit to them. And we welcome that,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said. “That was a good position to be in, to be able to play in today’s game. So no regrets.”

Mullin was asked about Villanova not having a foul in the first half.

“It’s pretty good defense,” he said with a smirk.

BIG PICTURE

St. John’s: The Red Storm again followed the pattern of struggling early from 3-point range. They were 2 of 8 from beyond the arc in the first half. … Darien Williams was called for a Flagrant 1 foul against Darryl Reynolds in the first half.

Villanova: Mikal Bridges started for the Wildcats but played just one minute because of a stomach virus. … Villanova swept the season series with St. John’s by an average of 18 points. … Villanova’s previous high for points was 96 in a double-overtime win over Pittsburgh in 1998 and the previous margin of victory was 35 against Marquette in 2015. … Villanova improved its shooting in the second half to 79.2 percent (19 of 24), including 6 of 9 from 3-point range.

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The 41-point margin of victory tied the Big East Tournament record set by Syracuse in a 96-55 win over Boston College in 1999.

UP NEXT

Villanova will face the Seton Hall-Marquette winner in Friday’s semifinals.

For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Big East Conference Tournament Preview, Bracket and Conference Postseason Awards

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Big East Player of the Year: Josh Hart, Villanova

Josh Hart confirmed what was almost unanimously believed in November: he was the best player in the Big East. The senior wing averaged a conference-leading 18.7 points — shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three — to go along with his 6.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game for first-place Villanova. One of the best two-way players in the nation also had some of his best single-game performances outside of the conference slate.

Big East Coach of the Year: Ed Cooley, Providence

Two days before Christmas, Providence closed out the non-conference slate with a loss at Boston College. The Friars followed by dropping the first two conference games. All three losses were by a dozen or more points. Yet, this team — without Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil — is in possession of another 20-win season, and tied the highest finish Providence has had since the conference’s relaunch. This is a competitive race, especially when you consider what Chris Holtmann and Steve Wojciechowski has done. And that doesn’t include Jay Wright’s continued dominance. But Cooley took a young roster with all the makings of a rebuild and turned it, in all likelihood, a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

First-Team All-Big East

  • Josh Hart, Villanova
  • Andrew Chrabascz, Butler: The statistics don’t jump off the page, but the senior forward impacts the game in so many different ways for a Butler team that was projected to finish sixth, but ended as the No. 2 seed.
  • Jalen Brunson, Villanova: Taking the full-time ball handling duties this season, the sophomore averaged 14.8 points per game, shooting 54 percent from the field. He also registered a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • Angel Delgado, Seton Hall: The nation’s leading rebounder (13.1 RPG) has recorded 24 double-doubles this season. He’s also improved his offense, posting 15.7 points per game.
  • Marcus Foster, Creighton: The transfer guard is second in the conference in scoring at 18.5 points per game. He’s taken on a bigger role since Watson’s season-ending injury.

Second Team All-Big East:

  • Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
  • Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall
  • Kyron Cartwright, Providence
  • Kelan Martin, Butler
  • Justin Patton, Creighton

RELATED: Player of the Year | Coach of the Year | NBC Sports All-Americans

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Villanova brought the Big East the national championship in 2016, ending critcism of the program’s shortcomings in March and providing the league with an added level of legitiamcy it yearned for since its relaunch in 2013.

So, what will the Big East do for an encore? The conference might send 70 percent of its members to the NCAA Tournament.

Like the previous three seasons, the league was dominated by Villanova, which won its fourth consecutive regular season championship. Butler finished second, and spent much of the year in the top-20. Creighton looked every part of a Final Four contender until Maurice Watson Jr. tore his ACL in mid-January. Xavier, which began the season ranked, has struggled since Edmond Sumner suffered the same season-ending injury. Marquette, Providence and Seton Hall have all made late pushes for at-large bids, resulting in a wild finish to the regular season. Four days in New York should be eventual, to say the least.

The Bracket

When: March 8-11

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City

Final: Saturday, March 11 5:30 p.m.

Favorite: Villanova

This should come as a surprise to no one. This reigning national champions enter the World’s Most Famous Arena as the top seed for the fourth straight season. Villanova has at its disposal the conference’s player of the year, another unanimous first-team selection, a national coach of the year candidate and the athleticism and versatility not many teams can brag about. Depth is a concern, with Phil Booth out for the season and Darryl Reynolds, the only true big man in the rotation, recently returning from injury. It’s also worth noting that two of three Big East losses came against the same opponent.

And if they lose?: Butler

The Bulldogs have twice defeated the Wildcats. They did so in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 4, handing Villanova its first loss of the season. Butler went for the sweep by knocking off the Cats on Feb. 22, the only time they lost at the Pavilion this season. In both contests, Butler made the key plays down the stretch for hard-fought victories. Butler has an improved defense from last season to compliment with its always-efficient offense. With a big like Andrew Chrabascz, the Bulldogs are more equipped to match up with Villanova. Also, Kelan Martin, since his move to a reserve role, has caught fire in the last five games of the regular season.

Kelan Martin (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Other Contenders:

  • Providence: The Friars have won six straight, with wins over Butler, Xavier, Creighton and Marquette. Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock may not be Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but they are anchoring a hot team that could give Providence its second postseason championship in four years.
  • Marquette: The Golden Eagles are the only Big East team team other than the Bulldogs to defeat Villanova. They have a nice balance with a deep roster. Five players average double-digits in points, and Andrew Rowsey, the Big East Sixth Man of the Year, and Katin Reinhardt have been huge in the second unit.

Sleeper: Seton Hall

The Pirates played strong basketball down the stretch last season to win the Big East Tournament championship. Isaiah Whitehead is playing in a different borough now, but Seton Hall is rolling, winners of seven of nine. The defense isn’t as strong as it was during last year’s run, but Angel Delgado, Khadeen Carrington and Desi Rodriguez are capable of a repeat performance.

The Bubble Dwellers:

  • Xavier: The Musketeers lost six of seven to close out the season. They have two wins in the past five weeks: both against DePaul. A loss to the Blue Demons on Wednesday night could burst Xavier’s bubble.
  • Marquette: The Golden Eagles should be safe at this point. Sure, they earned a come-from-behind win against Villanova, but that won’t stop critics from poking holes in their resume on Sunday, especially when four wins against Xavier and Creighton came after injuries to Edmond Sumner and Mo Watson.
  • Providence: A six-game winning streak and a third-place finish should mean the Friars are safe, but most bracket projections have them as one of the last at-large four bids.

Defining moment of the season: Marquette, down 17 points, comes back to stun No. 1 Villanova, starting a run for the NCAA Tournament.

CBT Prediction: Villanova

Oklahoma State lands St. John’s transfer Yankuba Sima

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Oklahoma State landed a solid big man transfer late this week with the addition of St. John’s sophomore Yankuba Sima. The transfer destination of Sima was first reported by Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports.

The 6-foot-11 Sima was a solid rim protector for the Red Storm as a freshman as he put up 7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in 23.4 minutes per game. As a sophomore, Sima saw his minutes decrease to around 17 per game as he was averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Sima’s shot-blocking numbers dramatically decreased to 0.5 per game as a sophomore but his free-throw shooting did improve from 38 percent to a respectable 72 percent.

Sima will likely have to sit out the first semester next season and should be available for the second half of next season for Oklahoma State.

St. John’s guard nails full-court shot

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Football was a major factor in the death of the original Big East Conference.

That said, if St. John’s ever decides to field a football team, sophomore Malik Ellison might make a good signal caller under center.

Earlier this week at Carnesecca Arena, the son of former No. 1 overall pick Pervis Ellison, connected on this full-court shot.

The 6-foot-6 Ellison started nine games for the Red Storm last season, averaging 7.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 20-year-old will be an experienced part of a young backcourt that includes returning starter Federico Mussini, redshirt freshman Marcus LoVett Jr. and incoming four-star guard Shamorie Ponds.

Report: St. John’s, associate head coach Rohrssen to part ways

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When St. John’s hired one its’ all-time greats in Chris Mullin to run the program last spring, one of the first hires to the staff was Barry “Slice” Rohrssen as associate head coach. With his past experiences as both an assistant and head coach, Rohrssen’s abilities as a recruiter and his connections in the New York metropolitan area made him a key hire for Mullin.

Tuesday night it was reported by SNY.tv that the two parties have decided to part ways, leaving Mullin with a vacancy to fill on his coaching staff. Rohrssen’s departure leaves Greg St. Jean and Matt Abdelmassih as the current assistants on Mullin’s staff, with the latter also being regarded as a good recruiter.

But how valuable was the Brooklyn native considered to be upon his hiring at St. John’s? His deal ran for six years, with Mullin’s deal being a five-year contract. Also to be considered in this: the move comes one day before the start of the program’s elite camp.

Rohrssen played a key role on Ben Howland’s and Jamie Dixon’s staffs at Pittsburgh, as his connections in the New York metropolitan area helped the program bring in recruits such as Brandin Knight (from nearby New Jersey), Carl Krauser, Chris Taft and Levance Fields. That success led to the Panthers becoming a power in the Big East during the early to mid-2000’s.

Rohrssen had two stints at Pittsburgh, with the second being followed by a season with John Calipari at Kentucky (2014-15).

A key for St. John’s on the recruiting trail has been establishing themselves as a player in New York City after not enjoying much success recruiting area prospects during Steve Lavin’s tenure as head coach. In the 2016 class the Red Storm managed to reel in two local players expected to have a major impact next season in junior college transfer Bashir Ahmed and freshman guard Shamorie Ponds.