NEW YORK -- It looks like St. John's will be going to the Big Dance without one of its key contributors.
Senior D.J. Kennedy, who ranks third on the team in scoring (10.7 points a game) and first in rebounding (5.7), suffered a torn right ACL during Thursday's loss to Syracuse and will be out indefinitely, the school said in a release Thursday night.
I was shocked. We lost one of our best players in that moment. This team, somebody is going to have to fill his shoes ... that's the thing about this team, we're so deep that any given moment anybody can step up. But to lose a player like him is crucial, and we're going to have to find a way to excel, that's it.” -- Dwight Hardy
Kennedy underwent an MRI on his knee earlier Thursday at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
"I've wanted to play in the NCAA tournament since I picked up a basketball in grade school, and this is a real blow," Kennedy said. "I am disappointed on a personal level, but I am happy that I will be with my teammates on the road during the tournament, supporting them the way they always support me."
Kennedy was hurt with 14:25 remaining in the opening half. After attempting a drive to the basket, Kennedy landed awkwardly on his right knee and crumbled to the floor in pain. Then, Kennedy began shouting for the trainer. Eventually, two teammates helped him off the court and it was later announced that he would not return.
Following surgery on his torn ACL, Kennedy's recovery will take six to eight months.
"I was shocked. We lost one of our best players in that moment," said senior guard Dwight Hardy. "This team, somebody is going to have to fill his shoes, and I think Malik [Stith] did a good job sparking for us. And that's the thing about this team, we're so deep that any given moment anybody can step up. But to lose a player like him is crucial, and we're going to have to find a way to excel, that's it."
Senior forward Sean Evans echoed Hardy's sentiments.
"We have to have someone step up," Evans said. "D.J. brings a lot to the game offensively, defensively, scoring and rebounding, so somebody has to step up. We had to do more work than we usually do [on Thursday], but I think we did a pretty good job. We just didn't pull it out in the end."
"This is a tough time to lose both a leader and vital member of our team," said Lavin. "D.J. Kennedy has consistently influenced the game at both ends of the floor throughout our successful season. We will miss his leadership, versatility and experience."
This will be St. John's first NCAA tournament appearance since 2002.
ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo and Kieran Darcy contributed to this report.
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