St. John's couldn't make it past Villanova Tuesday night.

But the Red Storm is still having one of its strongest starts to a season in three decades. 

This is a big deal for students and alumni who have been waiting for the team to return to glory.

"Coming in freshman year, you know, it's a bit of a struggle, as many of you know," said senior Joseph Gallant. "But this is the team I've been waiting for - it's the team that a lot of the students have been waiting for. So, you know, I expect nothing but a Big East Championship."  

St. John's used to be a perennial basketball power, winning five N.I.T. championships, three Big East titles and routinely making the NCAA tournament.

But in recent years, the program fell on hard times, and after failing to win an NCAA tournament game in 16 years, St. John's turned to one of its greatest players ever by hiring Brooklyn native Chris Mullin as coach, 30 years after he led St. John's to its last Final Four appearance.

Mullin, who also had a successful professional career as an All-Star player and front-office executive, is now in his fourth season running the St. John's program. 

And for the first time in four years, the Johnnies have broken into the top 25, coming in at 24 in the most recent Associated Press poll. 

"The biggest thing is they work hard," said St. John's Athletic Director Mike Cragg. "They come every day, trying to get better and that's all you can ask in college athletics, in any level, any sport and so they've done that with these kids."  

Although students remain on winter break, they are still watching the team closely and hoping that it can make it into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015.

The next time the Johnnies play will be on Saturday, when they face off at home against DePaul. If you want to watch that game in person, you are out of luck. It is already sold out.