Here's what to watch for when St. John's (20-12, 10-8 Big East) plays Robert Morris (21-13, 14-2 NEC) in its NIT opener Tuesday night (7 ET, ESPNU) at Carnesecca Arena.
MOTIVATION? St. John's finished short of its primary goal this season -- making the NCAA tournament. Instead it's in the NIT for the second year in a row.
The Red Storm were given a No. 1 seed, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll have an easy time of it early in this tournament. Every year, some teams are so disappointed about missing the Big Dance that they show up with no energy.
St. John's came into this season with great expectations. Can the Red Storm gather themselves and play hard going forward? We'll see.
THE BIG MAN: When we last saw St. John's, it was losing to Providence in the Big East tournament quarterfinals on Thursday. Starting center Chris Obekpa played just two minutes in the game.
Obekpa did pick up two quick fouls in the first half, and a third early in the second half. But he never returned to the game after the third foul. Afterward, coach Steve Lavin said the reason was "99 percent" foul trouble, plus he liked the group that mounted the Red Storm's second-half comeback.
Nevertheless, it seemed a little odd Obekpa never returned, considering how big an impact he had made for St. John's in the final few weeks of the regular season. We'll see if Obekpa returns to his regular role on Tuesday.
THE COLONIALS: St. John's and Robert Morris will be meeting for the first time, and the Red Storm better take this opponent seriously. The Colonials were also a No. 8 seed in last year's NIT before stunning No. 1 seed Kentucky 59-57.
As the Northeast Conference regular-season champions, they received an automatic bid to the NIT after being upset in the NEC tournament championship game by Mount St. Mary's 88-71.
Coach Andy Toole has a pair of players who average double figures -- 6-foot-2 senior guard Karvel Anderson (19.1 PPG, 45.3 3-point percentage), the NEC Player of the Year, and 6-foot-6 junior swingman Lucky Jones (13.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG).
Robert Morris is 78th in Division I in 3-point field goals made per game (7.2), and 37th in 3-point percentage (38.3). But the Colonials are just 269th (out of 345 schools) in defensive field goal percentage (45.7).