Losing the season opener does not mean it’s time to overreact. In fact, there is no need for any tangible reaction at all. Sure, St. John’s looked abysmal to start the game, but it was just the first game of many during the season. Well, at least that is one of the positive reactions you can take from the Wisconsin Badgers putting it on the Johnnies.
To be honest, the Red Storm did have some glaring issues in that game that will need to be fixed. Primarily, the atrocious help-defense — or really, lack thereof — that was exposed when they went in any form of zone. I am not sure what is more puzzling; the fact that St. John’s looked that bad in zone defense or that Steve Lavin went away from the man-to-man D that looked so good when they switched to it. Again, to be fair, we did say that Lavin was going to use the non-conference schedule to tinker around with the lineup as well as schemes — which is what he was likely doing there.
Another problem that we have mentioned numerous times, JaKarr Sampson’s love for his own jumper. Thankfully, however, Sampson started to attack the basket as soon as St. John’s started to struggle and — of course — started to succeed in a proficient, smart way for the rest of the game.
D’Angelo Harrison also looked like, um, D’Angelo Harrison. Scoring, trying to put the team on his back and all good things we expected out of him for this season. However, he did show flashes of strong ‘individual’ defense (his help-D, like everyone else’s, was not so great) and forms of on-the-court leadership. Those were aspects of his game St. John’s was only hoping would be there this season, not expecting.
Outside of letting the historically slow, methodical Wisconsin offense look like they were playing pick-up basketball against homeless children, St. John’s didn’t perform as well on the glass as they should have. Especially considering the fact that Wisconsin’s frontcourt had as much college basketball experience as a hamster does at solving math problems (unless, you know, they actually have experience).
Regardless, it was the very first game of the entire season. Whatever happened in that game is unlikely a fair example of whoever either of those teams end up being.
There is really good news for St. John’s, though. No matter how much stock or importance you are putting into the season opener. Their next slew of games are not only going to be great teaching moments for Lavin, but very winnable games. Meaning, he should be able to get away with tinkering around with all things Red Storm related and still notch some victories on his fictitious belt that he must use for keeping track of such things.
The entire point here is to not overreact to one game. If St. John’s were to struggle in the next few games then, sure, go bonkers about whatever you want. However, unless you were expecting this team to go undefeated or honestly think they were going to be at their peak in the opener, this is probably what they were going to look like — no matter what dumb experts predicted.
Joseph is the Managing Editor of Storm The Paint. For the love of all things Ghostbusters 3, follow him on the mean streets of Twitter @JosephNardone