NEW YORK – St. John’s lost to Syracuse 79-73 on Thursday afternoon, the second time this season the Johnnies have lost to the Orange.
The loss knocks St. John’s out of the Big East Tournament, but it may not have been the most significant loss of the game.
D.J. Kennedy crumbled to the floor with 14:25 left in the first half, immediately shooing away teammates and calling for the trainer. He was helped off the floor by teammates, limping gingerly and he made his way to the locker room. He would not return. After the game, x-rays came back negative, but Steve Lavin said after the game that Kennedy suffered a “serious knee injury.”
The team announced later he would miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL.
Kennedy is just the Johnnies third leading scorer, but he is a huge piece of what they want to do. He’s a versatile small forward that rebounds, defends, and can create for his teammates on the offensive end.
To make matters worse, Kennedy had been playing his best basketball of the season down the stretch, averaging 12.4 ppg in his last nine games. It’s a huge blow to St. John’s chances of making a run in the NCAA tournament.
More to the point, however, is that Kennedy is a senior. He toiled with the Johnnies 10 man senior class for three years of finishes in the bottom of the Big East. For him to go down with a knee injury as they are on the brink of playing in the NCAA tournament is just cruel.
“I don’t think its going to be the same if we lost one of our brothers,” Sean Evans, who is very close with Kennedy, said after the game. “If he doesn’t get to play, that is going to be hurtful.”
“I promise I am going to play my hardest for D.J. and for my teammates.”
Jim Boeheim can relate. Last season, the Orange lost Arinze Onuaku for the NCAA Tournament to a knee injury.
“Look at Georgetown, they haven’t won a game since Chris Wright went down,” the Syracuse head coach said. “They went from a top ten team to one that has lost four in a row.”
“Last year, we had good depth, so we were able to survive a little bit and win a couple of games. We could have one the third game. Its difficult to lose a guy like that, there’s no question.”
Without Kennedy in the lineup, St. John’s is going to need Justin Brownlee and Dwight Hardy to carry even more of the scoring load, but they will also need guys like Sean Evans (who had 11 points and 12 boards, six offensive) and Justin Burrell to get better on the glass. Don’t be surprised if Dwayne Polee gets some time at the forward position as well.
“We just have to have someone step up,” Lavin said. “DJ brings a lot to the game, be it scoring, defense, rebounding.”