It was mid-October when guard D’Angelo Harrison sat in the corner of the media workroom at Carnessecca Arena.
The Red Storm had just ceremoniously kicked off its forthcoming season and was less than a month away from its first game, a November 13 matchup against Detroit.
It was the only thing Harrison said he and his teammates were focused on. Not the next five games, or who would be the toughest opponent of the season.
But as the season winds down, the Johnnies are still in the struggle to the NCAA Tournament and have kept that laser focus on each game.
With three games left in the regular season — against Providence, Notre Dame and Marquette — the team faces a tough climb toward the tournament.
“The next game is always important because the past games are in the past, but it’s looking forward: all of our focus is on this Pitt game,” said forward Amir Garrett on the eve of the February 24 matchup against Pitt, which the team ended up losing, 63-47.
Garrett said he didn’t even know his team’s record until the pregame meeting before the team faced off against the University of South Florida about two weeks ago. If he, or any of his teammates, focused on anything outside of that game, they’d lose the finesse that’s helped them to a 16-11 record.
“To be honest I didn’t know what our record was,” said Garrett, who averages about 6 points a game. “We’re just looking forward to playing our next game, and we’re not worried about that. We’re just looking to get wins.”
The sentiments were echoed by teammate Chris Obekpa: “We’re taking it game at a time. Let the future take care of itself – win every game as it comes.”
The fan base has been a supporting component in the Red Storm’s continued push to make the Big Dance, said head coach Steve Lavin. The revived support, he said, continued to grow as the program succeeded in recruiting and retaining a winning record.
“If we’re doing those things, I think the fans come and it’s nice when we have that turn out at Carnesecca or at the Garden,” he said. “Because clearly it’s an advantage to have a good home court where the fans are energized and are pulling for our players because that fuels the momentum of the team that’s moving in the right direction.”