After all that, St. John’s and Connecticut will play at the Garden next year, Rick Pitino said Friday.
The Hall of Fame coach has said a few times he wanted to play the Huskies at Carnesecca Arena next year as a way to honor Lou Carnesecca on his 100th birthday.
But that isn’t going to happen now, according to Pitino.
“I wanted to play them for Louie’s 100th [birthday]. They immediately called the Big East office and protested,” Pitino said.
Instead, Pitino and the Johnnies may face Georgetown or Villanova on Carnesecca’s milestone birthday in Queens.
A league source told The Post it was never a realistic option for St. John’s to play Connecticut there.
Big East policy dictates that the conference can choose where the highest-profile games will be played if a school plays more than two home games at a public venue.
The Garden, where St. John’s is playing eight times this year, obviously wanted the Connecticut game played in its building, as well.
One of the reasons that Pitino wanted to play the game on campus was to tweak UConn coach Dan Hurley, it is believed.
St. John’s and Pitino felt Hurley’s sideline behavior in the UConn win on Dec. 23 was inappropriate, according to sources.
Another factor is that Huskies fans have typically flooded the Garden when they play St. John’s.
Asked if there is any bad blood between the coaches, Hurley said: “We all have egos. I don’t think any of us are in this to become friends.”
He didn’t directly address his relationship with Pitino.
Tomorrow’s meeting between the two schools at MSG is expected to be a sellout, though it is believed that it will be a 50/50 split between fans of the two programs.
St. John’s last sold out a Big East game at the Garden during Chris Mullin’s final season as coach, a victory over Villanova on Feb. 17, 2019.
Connecticut could be without talented forward Alex Karaban.
The sophomore is dealing with a sprained ankle and will be a game-time decision Saturday, Hurley said.
The 6-foot-8 Karaban is averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 39.3 percent from 3-point range.
St. John’s senior Joel Soriano was named as one of 10 finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award, which is given to the nation’s best center.
The Johnnies’ 1998-99 Elite Eight team, led by Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace), Erick Barkley and Bootsy Thornton, will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game.
That team had a reunion dinner Friday night with fans.