St. John’s basketball: Andre Curbelo provides spark off bench in exhibition

St. John’s basketball unofficially started its season with an exhibition victory over Adelphi. 

Hoops were back inside Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday night as the St. John’s basketball team hosted Adelphi, a Division II program, in its first exhibition game of the preseason.

The Johnnies were playing its fourth exhibition, including the three games played in the Dominican Republic, and debuted its fourth starting lineup that features key stars in Joel Soriano and Posh Alexander alongside David Jones, Rafael Pinzon, and O’mar Stanley.

St. John’s started slow but used a 17-0 run before halftime to create separation between themselves and the Panthers.

“We are a work in progress, and we know that,” head coach Mike Anderson said following the 85-55 victory.

Six different players reached double figures but the second half burst that Illinois transfer Andre Curbelo provided to the team remains the biggest takeaway.

Curbelo was scoreless at halftime, missing both shots he attempted in six minutes, but flipped a switch in the second half and dominated the action on both ends of the floor.

After forcing a turnover which led to a three-point play from Dylan Addae-Wusu, he turned to the crowd during the free throw attempt and said “watch this.”

The 6-foot-1 guard then acted like he was having stomach cramps before he slowly walked from half court to the baseline, similar to Jose Alvarado of the New Orleans Pelicans, and snuck behind the Adelphi guards to force a turnover.

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The sequence was capped off when the electrifying guard made a turnaround jump shot from the low block.

Curbelo posted 12 points, three assists, and two steals — all in the second half — on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor.

The dynamic between Andre Curbelo and Posh Alexander went smoothly on this night as Curbelo was more ball dominant when the two were on the court together.

“They’re basketball players…they’re teammates” Anderson said of his two guards.

“I think they both bring a lot to the table and we saw it defensively.”

The night was punctuated by the two players when Alexander threw an alley-oop off a fast break that Curbelo punched home, much to the delight of the Queens crowd.

Alexander didn’t shoot much, just 1-for-3 from the floor, but racked up ten assists and only committed one turnover.

“Playing with him was great today and we are building that chemistry once again,” Alexander said of his fellow point guard.

St. John’s basketball gets contributions from entire roster

Each St. John’s player had his moment to shine in the blowout victory.

Montez Mathis impressed with his aggressiveness and improved shooting as the fifth-year senior was 4-of-5 from the field, 2-for-2 from distance, finishing with ten points and Joel Soriano continued his dominance with 12 points — all in the first half — on 6-of-7 shooting.

“[My confidence] the highest it could ever be,” Soriano explained after he has clearly taken a leap in his development from his first year with the Red Storm.

O’Mar Stanley, David Jones, and AJ Storr also reached double figures.

Esahia Nyiwe was held out of the game due to precautionary reasons for St. John’s after dealing with a lingering injuries from practice and Rafael Pinzon had to leave briefly after suffering an apparent ankle injury in the second half but returned to the game.

St. John’s will host Southern New Hampshire on Saturday in the team’s final exhibition game before the regular season begins on November 7 against Merrimack.