Shamorie Ponds doesn’t need a DeLorean. A time machine would do him no good.
He insists he hasn’t thought back to his decision to stay home and attend St. John’s with any regret. Even in the wake of this forgettable season, with St. John’s 0-11 in Big East play, the Brooklyn native isn’t questioning his college choice.
“Not at all,” the 6-foot-1 southpaw said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road. It’s about getting through it.
“I learned that life isn’t always going to go as planned. You have to stay the course, get through, be mentally strong.”
Despite all the losing and nagging thigh and knee injuries, the sophomore is still putting up strong numbers — 19.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.5 steals — all improvements from a season ago.
His shooting percentages have fallen, down to 39 percent from the field and 21 percent from 3-point range, in part because he is being asked to do more, attempting 17.5 shots per game. He nearly led upsets of No. 1 Villanova and No. 6 Xavier, scoring a combined 68 points in the two setbacks.
“He’s been amazing. He’s getting guarded by the best guards on the other team every night,” sophomore guard Justin Simon said Friday night at the Garden, as St. John’s prepared to face fourth-ranked Duke on Saturday afternoon in “The Garf,” the inaugural non-conference game to honor the memory of the late Howard Garfinkel, the creator of the famed Five-Star Basketball Camp.
After losses, Ponds tries to take his mind off the frustration by getting back in the gym or blowing off steam by going out with friends. It’s hard to forget about the losing, though.
It was Ponds, after all, who believed this could be an NCAA Tournament team in the preseason.
“It’s been hard,” Ponds admitted. “It started off real good. With the losing, comes a lot of frustration.”
It did start out well. St. John’s went 10-2 in the non-conference portion of its schedule. But the Johnnies haven’t won since. The absence of sophomore point guard Marcus LoVett (sprained MCL) since Thanksgiving weekend has loomed large in several close losses; eight of the league defeats have been by seven points or fewer.
It has put added responsibility on Ponds to be a facilitator, scorer and ironman.
He’s the player teams game-plan for, the guy everyone attempts to stop, while he averages 36 minutes per game.
“It’s so much added pressure,” Ponds said.
LoVett twice underwent MRI exams on the knee, which revealed only the MCL sprain, sources said. He was given the go-ahead to test the knee in practice in early December, the sources said, but never felt the knee was right.
Then on Jan. 20, his father tweeted his son would miss the remainder of the season. LoVett hasn’t been on the bench since.
“It’s a personal decision,” said coach Chris Mullin, who did meet with LoVett on campus this week.
When asked his thoughts about the hazy situation, Ponds said: “He just felt it was best for him to do what he had to do. I don’t really have no comments [on it], because I don’t know what’s going on.”
He’s more focused on breaking through in the win column, and ending this losing streak. Beating favored Duke on Saturday would be a great start. Based on how he played against Villanova and Xavier, Ponds won’t be backing down.
“That would get our confidence back,” he said.
Junior forward Kassoum Yakwe (ankle) practiced Friday and will play on Saturday, according to Mullin.
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