Romaro Gill’s transformation — from a forgotten reserve to key part of Big East regular-season tri-champion Seton Hall — reached a new high on Monday.
The 7-foot-2 big man from Jamaica was named the league’s Most Improved and Defensive Player of the Year, as voted on by Big East coaches. Gill, a junior college transfer, went from averaging 2.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game as a junior to 7.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and a whopping 3.2 blocks — third-most in the country — this season as a senior.
“He’s a tremendous person, and he’s really worked hard since he’s gotten here,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “It really shows a lot that he’s most improved — he really is — and he anchors our defense for us down low. … It’s amazing what happens when you have a great attitude and a great work ethic, which Ro [has].”
If St. John’s can get past eighth-seeded Georgetown on Wednesday night in the first round of the Big East Tournament, it looks as if it will be facing a stripped-down version of top-seeded Creighton on Thursday in the quarterfinals.
The Bluejays, ranked seventh nationally, may be without star point guard and All-Big East second-team selection Marcus Zegarowski, who suffered a right knee injury late in Saturday’s win over Seton Hall. Hours after coach Greg McDermott said on a conference call he had “no idea” if the sophomore will be available on Thursday, the school announced Zegarowski is doubtful for the quarterfinals.
Zegarowski, who is averaging 16.1 points and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 42.4 percent from 3-point range, underwent an MRI that revealed a meniscus injury. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Zegarowski didn’t take part in any drills in Monday’s workout and Creighton is preparing to play without him if need be. He had a noticeable limp in a video taken of practice.
St. John’s (16-15) pulled off its biggest win of the year in the second meeting between the teams, hammering Creighton, 91-71, on March 1 at Carnesecca Arena. Zegarowski struggled mightily that day, shooting 1 of 10 from the field.
With fears of coronavirus spreading, the Big East announced it is going ahead with its plans as scheduled to play its postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden from Wednesday through Saturday with fans in attendance.
“We have maintained a direct line of communication with the New York City Department of Health and Office of Emergency Management, who are not recommending the cancellation of large gatherings in New York City at this time,” the statement read.
Creighton forward Denzel Mahoney was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year. The 6-5 Mahoney, a Southeast Missouri State transfer, averaged 12.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game during the regular season. Butler’s Kamar Baldwin, Georgetown’s Jagan Mosely and Providence’s Emmitt Holt shared the league’s Sportsmanship Award.