The formula has been found for the St. John’s basketball team and now its time to win.
Mike Anderson prepares his teams to peak as February rolls around and it looks like the St. John’s basketball team is right on schedule.
The non-conference slate was unimpressive and the performance on the court from the Johnnies (10-5, 2-2 Big East) was less impressive.
The team lost its only three games against power conference foes.
Julian Champagnie could not single handily defeat Indiana, the team was outclassed by No. 8 Kansas, and a Champagnie-less team (COVID) looked lost against Pittsburgh.
Games against mid-majors were nail-biters and the enthusiasm for what was supposed to be a season to remember in Queens was fading quickly.
A COVID-19 pause then hit the Johnnies and the team has looked different since its return to the court on January 5.
Champagnie exploded for a career-high 34 points in a win over DePaul.
St. John’s led by seven in the second half on the road against No. 16 Providence before a collapse in the final ten minutes sunk the team for a 10-point loss.
Then, the heart-breaking loss to UConn happened.
A game in which St. John’s hung around, hung around, and hung around some more before late minute magic from Aaron Wheeler and Julian Champagnie had the Johnnies up by a point with less than five seconds to play. A bad bounce gave the Huskies a second chance, forced overtime, and pulled away in the extra session.
St. John’s could have sulked and folded but it didn’t.
The Johnnies regrouped, went home, and prepared for lowly Georgetown.
“We went to practice and went hard at each other,” sophomore point guard Posh Alexander said of what the team did after its loss to UConn.
The practice paid off because the Red Storm looked like an inspired team which has figured things out against the Hoyas.
St. John’s led by as many as 20 before Georgetown cut the lead down to seven in the matter of minutes, but this team didn’t blink.
A month ago it would have been a nail biting finish between St. John’s and Georgetown, but not on Sunday. The Johnnies had an answer and quickly delivered the knockout blow to win by 19.
Champagnie, Alexander, and Dylan Addae-Wusu were sensational. Montez Mathis and Aaron Wheeler played their roles perfectly. Stef Smith, despite foul trouble, contributed.
That’s the recipe for success for the Red Storm.
“I see us becoming a better all-around team. We’re just going to take it day-by-day and work hard in practice,” Alexander continued. “We need to bring it from practice into the game.”
St. John’s basketball staring down critical stretch
Now comes the gauntlet.
Four straight Quadrant 1 games are coming up for St. John’s with No. 21 Providence, sitting three spots away from five straight Quad 1 games, to follow.
The Johnnies are winless in such games this season and now is the time for the Red Storm, which still has NCAA Tournament hopes, to win these critical games.
The run begins with a trip to Omaha to face the Creighton Bluejays (10-5, 2-2 Big East), losers of two straight in conference play after a strong non-conference slate, at 7:00 p.m. (FoxSports1) on Wednesday night.