Rick Pitino says Vanishing St. John's Church “can't guard anyone.”

Following St. John's' eighth loss in its past 10 games, coach Rick Pitino lamented his team's lack of toughness and sportsmanship, saying “this has been the most unenjoyable experience I've had since I've been coaching.”

The Red Storm blew a 19-point lead to lose 68-62 to tri-state rival and fellow bubble team Seton Hall on Sunday night, falling to 14-12 overall and 6-9 in the Big East, which puts them in ninth place. With five games remaining in the regular season before the Big East Tournament, St. John's will likely need to take the lead. John's to run the schedule the rest of the way before advancing to the conference tournament for a chance to receive an NCAA tournament bid.

Pitino, a Hall of Fame coach in his first season with the Red Storm, didn't hold back after the game.

“If I said I was disappointed, that would be the least I could say about the year,” he said. “Our lateral speed and toughness is something I have never seen in all my years of coaching.

“We're so unathletic that we can't guard anyone without committing foul play…and it's really not about losing. Even winning, when I watch film, I see unathletic plays, I see people who don't handle the ball,” who only care about taking snaps. A quick. “It's been a disappointing year.”

St. John's scored just four points in the first 12 minutes of the second half, only to see a 12-point halftime lead disappear without much resistance. It was the latest in a string of deficits in recent weeks for the Red Storm, who suffered a three-point lead against Providence on Tuesday after taking a first-half lead, and blew a 15-point lead against Marquette last weekend.

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“I think the other team is making adjustments and we have to make adjustments to move the basketball and make good shots,” Pitino said. “But we lack toughness.” “We're not moving our feet on defense. They shot 37 free throws. Take away the stats. You see them every game. How much free throws they shoot, how many free throws we shoot. Look at what Naheim did.” [Alleyne] Shooting the Sunnah. Look at what Chris Ledlum shot during the year. You are a strong striker, you played 29 minutes without a free throw. This means that you are not attacking the rebound, and you will not reach the goal line. It's really all the hard stuff that makes us abandon leads.

After replacing Mike Anderson last spring, Pitino aggressively rebuilt St. John's roster. Nine players have entered the transfer portal, with the Red Storm adding 10 transfers and two new players to the ESPN 100 with only two players remaining from last season.

“I had no choice,” he said. “We could just choose who we could get, who was available, and we didn't have a choice. I don't think we would have won the first year anyway, because when you rush like that, you don't see the players. There's only so much we can do.”

St. John's started the season with a 12-4 record, including wins over Utah, Xavier, Butler, Villanova and Providence. But the wheels have fallen off since then, as the Red Storm went 2-8 in their last 10 games to fall out of the projected NCAA Tournament field. Pitino has struggled to find the right combination of players, even taking All-Big East senior Joel Soriano out of the starting lineup against Providence earlier in the week due to inconsistency.

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Soriano was among the players — “about five slow players laterally” — that Pitino mentioned Sunday night who are struggling to move defensively. Pitino also said that St. John's having “f— facilities” is not the cause of its defensive problems.

The Red Storm, which has one win in the past two months, returns to the field Wednesday at Georgetown, but it's a team that Pitino said “can definitely beat us.”

When a reporter asked him if he had any second thoughts about taking the St. John's job, Pitino said no.

“It's not St. John's, it's my team,” he said.

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