St. John’s basketball look to make major jump under Rick Pitino in 2023-24

Rick Pitino and St. John's
St. John’s head coach Rick Pitino
amNewYork/Kyle Sweeting

College basketball season is right around the corner. In Queens, this marks a brand new era of St. John’s basketball and the promise of a return to prominence in the Big East with Rick Pitino at the helm.

Although it will be no easy task to re-establish St. John’s once dominant position in the Big East. The conference placed three teams in the top 10 and four teams total in the top 25, none of which were the Red Storm. 

“I think we’re a very deep team,” Pitino said during his media day press conference. “We’re going to get better. Each week, we’re a team that will get better.”

St. John’s will take part in their first live-game action on Saturday in a scrimmage against Rutgers. Pitino is looking forward to seeing his team take the court for the first time, “We’re very excited to see where we are at this point… it’ll be a challenge for us this soon to play a team like Rutgers but we’re also excited to get on the court and compete against them.”

Pitino has completely revamped the roster from last season, with Joel Soriano being the only returning player who averaged double-digit points last season. With the addition of two freshmen, Pitino has taken full advantage of the transfer portal. Three players from Iona have found a new home in Queens, while Pitino has brought in other transfers from UConn, Harvard, Kansas and more. Perhaps the most exciting transfer is senior guard Jordan Dingle from UPenn. Dingle was second in the nation in points per game (23.4) last year and was highly sought after in the transfer portal. Dingle, the Valley Stream, NY native, picked Pitino and St. John’s over other power five offers. 

While regular season action is still just under three weeks away for the Red Storm, that has not stopped Pitino from keeping his sights set on the conference, “It’ll be a very strong conference, a very difficult conference to win on the road, certainly,” said Pitino. “This is a big year for us because the brand is long gone with Louis and the brand needs to be brought back… winning is the priority.”

In the words of Pitino, he has built a competitive roster that is focused on nothing but winning, “They’re competitors when they step between the lines… They want to keep score on everything we do.”    

A competitive, scrappy team is long overdue in Queens, and the effects of the Pitino era can already be felt throughout Carnesecca Arena. The Red Storm will play eight games at Madison Square Garden this year and three at UBS Arena. It’s abundantly clear that while St John’s is not seen as a top 25 program right now, they are well on their way to re-establishing a winning culture. 

“That’s the ultimate goal for every basketball team that starts the season is to be number one at the end of the year.”

For more on St. John’s, visit AMNY.com