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Two important things happened for St. John’s on Wednesday night: First, it won its first basketball game in two weeks — just the second time in seven games — and then Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino apologized for trashing the record. weekend.

“These guys never let me down,” Pitino said after his team built a 21-point lead and snapped a three-game losing streak with a 90-85 victory at Georgetown. “I failed them in the basics.”

The team’s 19-point loss to Seton Hall combined with Sunday’s pitching loss marked the eighth loss in 10 games, dashing St. John’s hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid. Afterward, Pitino called his first season at the helm of the program “the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had as a coach.”

It didn’t end there. Pitino went on to call out the team, “because we’re so unathletic, we can’t guard anybody without fouling,” and he specifically labeled three players as “slow on the side” and a fourth as “physically weak.” Just to cover all the bases, Pitino threw his coaching staff under the bus.

“We lost recruiting this season,” he said. “We’ve recruited opposing opponents with speed, quickness, fundamentals, strength and conditioning the way we coach. We didn’t do that. It’s a good team, they try hard, they’re not too hard.”

Pitino got all that back after Wednesday’s win, which improved his team to 15-12 overall, 7-9 in the Big East. “Words are important,” he told the team when his staff warned him that some of his players were hurt by his comments.

“I absolutely love you,” Pitino told them. “I never want to embarrass you. Mine is bad. I am guilty. I shouldn’t have mentioned anyone by name. I didn’t mean it.

He also explained that he personally recruited everyone on the roster – and found the players he wanted.

“My staff does not recruit these people,” he said. “It was all me.”

And sorry, “I want to apologize to any St. John’s fans,” Pitino continued, “because they treated me like royalty.”

As for the players, Jordan Dingley, last season’s Ivy League Player of the Year, said they still have Pitino’s back — and believe he has theirs despite the harsh criticism.

“We know how much he loves us and cares about us, and we know how much he cares about winning, so I don’t think the boys took it too seriously,” Dingle said.

Many of Pitino’s former players say the same. He’s always been a tough coach to play with — one that’s far from sentimental — but he’s also taken three different programs to the Final Four and won two national championships in part because of his refusal to accept mediocrity.

“I’m not impressed,” former Kentucky All-American Tony Delk, who Pitino once suggested he move midway through the game, said of his latest comments about the Red Storm’s roster. The athletics this week. “One thing I can say about Coach is that he is brutally honest. It may be hard for this generation to accept that, but we’ve accepted it, we’ve responded to it, and it’s gotten the most out of us. If I were those kids, I would stay and listen to him.

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(Photo: Wendell Cruz / USA TODAY)