Are you a glass is half full or empty type of person? I ask because you are either reading this happy to see some improvements or totally distraught after seeing the St. John’s Red Storm fall in overtime to Penn State.
St. John’s defense looked really suspect and they lost the game. To be fair — or really, to give PSU some credit — Penn State’s offense is their strength. Obviously St. John’s needs to better forcing teams out of their comfort zone and whatnot, but giving up 89 points had as much do with PSU’s terrific offense as it did with the Red Storm’s inability to stop anyone.
I should also mention that Rysheed Jordan only played six minutes and didn’t score a point. His iffy play — and now a seemingly decreased role — feels like it might be a trend more than it is about him having to adjust to this level of hoops. If this is who he really is as a player…..Never mind, don’t think about that. Eat some leftovers and read the good.
One more thing. Free throws down the stretch. I won’t dwell on that, though, because it never seemed like St. John’s would be in a position to win the game until late in the second half. You know, that I know, that Steve Lavin knows, that the players know, free throws need to be made.
I try to keep things positive all the time, but I honestly felt that there are far more good things to take away from the game than bad.
For one, St. John’s showed a consistent ability to make threes. Not only is 11-20 from behind the arc encouraging, but so was the play of Max Hooper, who went 5-8 from distance. Lavin must have felt that Hooper’s play was good and important, as the transfer from Harvard started for the Johnnies in the second half.
Oh, and I think I might be wrong about Phil Greene. I recently said that he wasn’t “that” type of player. You know, “that” type who can be a really, really important part of the St. John’s offense. So, um, about that — I might need some new kicks after all the backtracking I’m going to need to do. After being down by as many as 15 in the second half, Greene put the offense on his shoulders and led the comeback charge for the Red Storm. Not helped, but led — as in, like, totally the (expletive) man.
Chris Obekpa also played all kinds of swell. Seven blocks, 13 boards and he made both of his free-throw attempts. I can’t understate how great of a shot alter/blocker player “O’Blockpa” is, but watching him swat balls away from the basket is turning into one of my favorite things in the world. I mean, it’s a thing of beauty.
D’Angelo Harrison scored 20 points and was also vital down the stretch for St. John’s. He did miss some key free-throws, but there is no way the Red Storm were even in a position to win without his play. Blaming him for making 1-2 from the line in the closing seconds of regulation is like blaming an undercover cop for nailing you with soliciting a prostitute — I mean, you did the illegal thing. Okay, horrible analogy, but I have my streetwalker in article quotas to meet.
What Should I Take From The Game?
That Lavin is closer to setting a rotation. That Hooper might actually be the sharpshooter the program has longed for. That Harrison is the player you expected him to be and that Greene’s development is apparently so astronomical that he looks like he’s a more important player than JaKarr Samspon.
Also, sadly, that the defense still needs work and that Jordan is continuing to look like he’s not going to live up to any level of the hype (I still think it’s too early to have a verdict on Jordan though).
That is about it. Don’t get too high or too low from the loss to Penn State. They are a much better team than the casual fan knows. Be happy that the Johnnies hit shots from distance and that certain players are exceeding their perceived abilities.
Seriously, it’s Turkey Day weekend. Be thankful that there is more basketball to be played and time for St. John’s to continue to improve.