I don’t want to get all hyperbolic on you and tell you how important of a win it was for St. John’s to get past Wagner. But, you know, they did really need to win this game.
Really, it was nice to see the Red Storm start to figure some things out. Specifically, their defense — which was, at best, suspect against the Wisconsin Badgers in their season opener.
It was the usual suspects for St. John’s. D’Angelo Harrison scored often, especially early, and played with a sense of urgency that this team seemed to need. It was also nice to see Harrison to continue to work on the defensive side of the ball. People have always wanted to question his character and used his lack of defense to help support their narrative, but with Harrison putting some real, honest effort on the that side of the ball coupled with his usual scoring in bunches awesomeness, it’s going to be harder and harder to find folks who are going to be anti 3’Angelo Harrison by the time the Big East Conference schedule beings (3’Angelo is not patent pending. Feel free to use at your own discretion).
Outside of Harrison, though, some pretty big questions still remain for St. John’s. The biggest probably being; can anyone on the roster hit a shot from behind the arc?
As a team — like, you know, everyone on the roster — the Red Storm didn’t make a single three pointer against Wagner. Sure, they didn’t need to go bonkers from behind the arc to help secure the victory, but teams are going to start playing to their strength and allowing St. John’s to continue to hurl brick after brick from three. This is an area that St. John’s must improve upon if they want to have success in the Big East. It’s also why folks like Max Hooper have to figure out a way to play better than below-average defense so he can be on the floor for longer than a few seconds at a clip.
Other worthy side notes:
Chris Obekpa again came off the bench and only played 16 minutes. Although, he still managed to block four shots.
Phil Greene started instead of Jamal Branch. This probably has more to do with having someone like Branch coming off the bench than it does with Steve Lavin liking one player over the other. Still, expect plenty more lineup tinkering before it is all said and done.
Rysheed Jordan is still struggling. We can attribute this to early, freshman year jitters, but at some point Jordan has to live up to some level of the hype. His athleticism is clearly there, but going zero for life in a game is just unacceptable for a player who is supposedly a star in the making.
Maybe it’s just me — which it probably is — but Gods’gift Achiuwa has looked good in both games, in his limited time on the court. Not only does he now look like a middle linebacker, but his offensive post game actually looks pretty competent. Who knew?
JaKarr Sampson, who always has a nice looking box-score, continues to be my most infuriating player to watch. Sampson has a habit of settling for mid-range jumpers and when he’s not doing that he sometimes attacks the basket with post moves that look like they are being attempted by someone who is having an epileptic seizure. Other times, though, he looks as good as any power forward/tweener in the entire country. I mean, remember half-man/half-amazing from those And-1 Mix Tape things? Well, Sampson is a third horrid, a third frustrating to watch and a third awesome acrobat. Someone come up with a solid nickname to go with all of that.
As for what’s next, St. John’s will play Bucknell on Tuesday.