NEW YORK — Kyle Neptune grew up just six miles away from Madison Square Garden. Growing up in her Hill neighborhood of Clinton, Brooklyn, Neptune dreamed of playing in the arena.
Friday night was my first time as head coach at Madison Square Garden. It was not memorable.
Neptune’s team beat St. John’s 57-49, but the performance was anything but pretty. The Wildcats recorded his 16 turnovers, shooting just 36.5%, but he improved his record to 10-10.
However, Neptune was not satisfied with the performance. He spent much of the game on the sidelines, especially after receiving a technical foul early in the second half.
“I [angry]I didn’t…” he asked sarcastically.
The technical foul was Neptune’s first as Villanova’s head coach, but not his first.
“I did a technical foul in Florida as a Fordham coach, so I’m technically savvy,” Neptune said. “…he called, so it’s a technical foul.”
The referees were often not the only complaints of first-year Villanova head coach. After the technology, Neptune clapped angrily, as Villanova players often do after disagreeing phone calls. Part of his last 15 minutes was spent standing still, arms crossed and staring.
“This is an emotional game,” said Neptune. “We’re just trying to keep our players playing hard. I thought the referee did a good job tonight.”
A far from perfect performance for Villanova, but a win is a win.
With the win, the Neptunes improved their record in New York City to 11-7. He lost 10-4 at home to Fordham last season, while Queens lost to St. Johns at his arena in Carnesecca, home of his campus, and Barclays in Brooklyn lost to Miami at his center. , lost to Manhattan at Riverdale. The loss to Manhattan was Neptune’s first loss as head coach.
Aside from his hometown victory, Friday added personal significance to Neptune. He will celebrate his birthday on the right side of the scoreboard as he turns 39 on Saturday.
Friday was the first time Neptune led the team in the garden., Villanova hopes to become a MSG veteran by the end of March. The Wildcats are guaranteed to play at least one more game in the arena in the league’s championship tournament, which runs from March 8 until he runs until the 11th.
The Wildcats are currently in 7th place in the Big East and will have a matchup on day one of the tournament. The odds of a massive bid for the NCAA Tournament are rapidly fading. That means he would have to win four in a row Wednesday through Saturday for the Wildcats to qualify.
Neptune now boasts a 1-0 record in the most famous arenas in the world. His victory over Johns was disappointing, but his victory over Madison Square Garden was no different.
The Wildcats need a few more seasons for his first season to be a success.