St. John’s basketball guard Nahiem Alleyne knew he could be playing better.
It only had been four games, but the St. John’s basketball team knew it should be better than 2-2.
Rick Pitino ripped to shreds its defense just moments after a tough loss to Dayton on Friday in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic and, despite the loss coming in mid-November, it felt more than just an early season defeat for the Johnnies.
Pitino vowed that the locker room would not get discouraged, rather encouraged, going forward but, on Saturday, one player had requested a meeting with him, Nahiem Alleyne.
Alleyne, a National Champion transfer from UConn, has been used as a role player off the bench for the Red Storm and had not seen more than 18 minutes in a game — primarily because none of the starters player in the final ten minutes against Michigan.
Pitino knew what was about to happen. A player was already coming to talk to him about why he wasn’t playing that much and how to get more playing time.
But the Hall of Famer was stunned. It was neither of that.
Alleyne wanted to talk to the St. John’s head coach to apologize for the way he had been playing.
“I didn’t come here to play like that,” Pitino recalled of what the veteran told him. “He never talked about getting back in the lineup.”
His play on Sunday in the 91-82 victory over Utah will certainly earn him more minutes after he added 10 points, three assists, a steal, and no turnovers — with exceptional defense — in 17 minutes, while mostly playing small forward.
“He’s a very humble young man. I have a lot of confidence in him,” Pitino added, who had been very complimentary of his defense despite the team’s defensive struggles. “He just has to learn how to do more things than just shoot.”
Nahiem Alleyne is averaging less than a rebound, assist, and steal per contest.
“I just knew that I wasn’t playing at the level that I know I want to play at,” Alleyne said of the reason why he asked to talk to Pitino. “He knows that as well.”
“I’ll be ready no matter when you call my name. Doesn’t matter if it’s one minute, two minutes, I’ll be ready to go.”
St. John’s (3-2) will get some time off after the grueling stretch of four games in seven days and return to the court on Saturday night (7:00p.m. EST, FS2) against Holy Cross (2-4).