St. John’s basketball shows potential in season opening blitz of Merrimack

St. John's basketball guard Dylan Addae-Wusu (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball guard Dylan Addae-Wusu (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

The St. John’s basketball team flashed its potential in an overwhelming victory against Merrimack. 

The first half was nearly all you needed to see from the St. John’s basketball team to understand what this season could be like.

Flashy passes. Hounding pressure defense. Fast-break dunks.

And turnovers.

St. John’s (1-0) was faster, stronger, bigger, and more aggressive than the Northeast Conference favorite Merrimack Warriors (0-1), as expected, but the same issues that have plagued the Red Storm in the tenure of Mike Anderson were still apparent.

The Johnnies committed 15 turnovers in the first half despite its 21-point advantage, 51-30, at the intermission.

It didn’t get much better in the second half.

St. John’s finished the night with 29 turnovers and it kept Merrimack lurking throughout the second half before the Red Storm rattled off a 12-0 run with six minutes to play and emerged with the 97-72 victory.

“I thought we got sloppy,” head coach Mike Anderson said following the victory of the turnovers.

“That will be addressed. That’s something I don’t condone.”

The Warriors had 32 points off of the Johnnie miscues.

“We have to take care of the ball. We have to get better,” point guard Posh Alexander explained.

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However, there was still plenty to like about what the Red Storm put on the floor on Monday night.

You could see the potential, the firepower, the explosiveness.

Illinois transfer Andre Curbelo looked like he was in his electric freshman year form with 13 points and seven assists.

David Jones, who led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds, was playing free and fast while draining five 3-pointers and shooting 8-of-16 from the floor.

Alexander set the tone defensively with six steals and looked like the captain of the team throughout the game.

“[Posh] got in the huddle and really got after the guys. He challenged them.” Anderson said about his junior.

“They will follow his lead,” the head coach continued.

Each member of the St. John’s starting five scored at least 12 points and the unit combined for 76 points while shooting 28-of-44 (63.6-percent) from the field.

St. John’s basketball thriving with two point guard system

One of the biggest question marks entering the season was the dynamic between Posh Alexander and Andre Curbelo but St. John’s was at its best when the two point guards were playing together.

“That’s my guy,” Alexander said of Curbelo.

“Having a point guard like him, like I said before, it’s an honor and a blessing.”

Alexander and Curbelo combined for 27 points, 12 assists, and eight steals in the victory while completely dictating the pace of play on both ends of the floor.

The production of intensity of the two players will certainly work, and win a lot of games, for the Johnnies this season if the duo can replicate its showing against Merrimack.

Are there things for St. John’s to improve upon? Of course. But every team has many things to correct after its first game of the season.

This Red Storm team has the talent to reach the NCAA Tournament, it just has to consistently make all the pieces fit together.

The Johnnies are back on the floor Saturday night against Lafayette (0-1) at 6:00p.m.

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