St. John’s basketball gets major dose of reality in blowout loss to Michigan

St. John's basketball guard Simeon Wilcher guards Dug McDaniel (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball guard Simeon Wilcher guards Dug McDaniel (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

The St. John’s basketball team was hit back to reality with a blowout loss to Michigan.

Madison Square Garden was ready for a major event on Monday night as the St. John’s basketball team made its season debut at the World’s Most Famous Arena against the Michigan Wolverines, but the Red Storm did not comply with the heavy anticipation.

Nimari Burnett‘s 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession foreshadowed what was to come for the Wolverines despite an opening eight minutes which barley saw any whistles and both teams catch fire from the field.

Michigan began to pull away from St. John’s in the final three minutes of the first half with an 11-3 run that turned a 2-point lead, 37-35, into a ten point advantage, 48-38.

St. John’s never came with a counterpunch after halftime as the closest the Johnnies could get to Michigan was nine points, 52-43, in the opening four minutes of the half before the floodgates opened.

It quickly became apparent that the Red Storm defense, which Rick Pitino was so concerned about in the preseason, could not keep up with Burnett or Dug McDainel in the 89-73 loss.

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“When we saw [Michigan] beat Marquette 106-101 [in a secret scrimmage] in 12-minute quarters, and then watched them in their two games, we knew that they were one of the best shooting teams in the country,” Pitino said.

The Wolverines shot 51.6-percent from the field (32-of-62) and 42.3-percent from 3-point range (11-of-26).

“What we didn’t expect is to get dominated by their point guard the way he dominated us tonight, and that’s a credit to him.”

McDaniel finished with a career-high 26 points — 16 of which came in the second half — six rebounds, and seven assists while Burnett also had a career-high of 21 points, all coming in the first half, after going scoreless in Michigan’s last game.

“[Michigan] was brilliant, in every phase of the game.”

St. John’s basketball head coach more concerned about offense

One of the most concerning aspects of St. John’s loss for Rick Pitino was how inefficient and stagnant the offense was.

“Our offense shocked the sh– out of me,” the Hall of Famer said.

The Red Storm made just 36-percent of its shots and only had 11 assists on 27 made field goals.

“I think they were going one-on-one way too much. It’s uncharacteristic. They don’t do that in practice.”

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Joel Soriano led the way with 15 points and nine rebounds and Jordan Dingle, who was inserted in the starting lineup after coming off the bench in the opener, and Daniss Jenkins both finished with ten points.

“Tomorrow, they’ll be humiliated (on film) with what they did offensively. That’ll be a good lesson for them, because it happens all the time.”

“Our guards didn’t do a good job of screening and moving, and they’ll see it tomorrow. The film never lies.”

St. John’s (1-1) will have a quick turnaround and have to play three games in four days beginning on Thursday (1:30p.m. ET, ESPNU) in the Charleston Classic against North Texas (2-0).

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