So, um, that was interesting.
The St. John’s Red Storm opened their exhibition campaign with a game against San Francisco State. Sounds like good times for the Johnnies, right?
Wrong. The Johnnies allowed 80 points, barely escaped with a win and leave the exhibition game with more question marks than answers.
Steve Lavin’s team is entering the season with a lot of hype, but some of that might be tempered a little after the Johnnies struggled in their first “game” of the year. Granted, it was just a pretend game, but St. John’s found it rather difficult to play defense. Outside of that, though, it was all gravy (why is there no sarcasm font?).
There were definitely some positives, however. Orlando Sanchez was clearly the star for the Johnnies. Especially in the first half, where it seemed like other Red Storm players were being either overly tentative or just playing bad hoops. Whatever fictitious disease that might have been hurting his teammates, Sanchez was aggressive on both ends of the floor. His passing also lived up to its billing. That ability was clear from the get-go as Orlando’s handle in transition led to some easy baskets. It doesn’t hurt that it looks like he will be a force on the glass as well.
D’Angelo Harrison looked very, um, D’Angelo Harrison-ish (29 points). The volume-shooter did do a few things that weren’t as him-ish as usual, though. Harrison avoided forcing up bad, long range jumpers — even when the rest of the Red Storm were having a hard time getting to the basket. Another thing certainly worth noting; Harrison played hard on both ends of the floor and also seemed to make a conscious effort — at least early on — to get his teammates involved before hurling the ball towards the basket. Just like every game Harrison is in, though, it felt like he had to bail his teammates out late in the game.
Again, however, St. John’s defense is a question mark going forward. It is important to not overreact to one exhibition game, but it is unacceptable for the Johnnies to give up that many points against a team like San Francisco State. Between bad transition defense and the inability to show any quality help defense, their defense feels like a problem. Although, to be fair, some of that can be attributed to the absence of Chris Obekpa, who was suspended for the game.
Turnovers were an issue as well. This is something I would normally attribute to chemistry, but with as many returning players coming back to the team this season, using chemistry as a scapegoat would be unfair to scapegoats.
Other quick, noteworthy things: Rysheed Jordan (16 points) looked solid in spots, Max Hooper did not play nearly as much as some might have anticipated and Gods’gift Achiuwa looks as ripped as a early 90s WWF superstar.
We will have a more in-depth look at this game tomorrow (you know, with stats and stuff). I would like to tell you that is because more stats will be available, but it has as much to do with going back to re-watch the game while my blood is not boiling.
Joseph, Twitter @JosephNardone