St. John’s continues late charge towards NCAA tournament berth
At 0-5 in the Big East the St. John’s Red Storm looked like a team unsure of its individual roles and how they fit within the team concept, and despite their individual talent Steve Lavin’s team didn’t look like a group capable of turning things around. But a switch was flipped, and the Red Storm have now won eight of their last nine games after beating Georgetown 82-60 at Madison Square Garden.
D’Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan scored 24 points apiece to lead the way, with Harrison’s three-pointer with 10:29 remaining ending a 17-4 Georgetown run and pushing the Red Storm advantage back out to ten points. Clearly Harrison’s shot was a big moment in the game, and without it maybe the Hoyas continue their charge.
In regards to the St. John’s rotation becoming more comfortable in its individual roles, Jordan’s the player who has made the most progress. Sunday’s scoring effort represents a season-high for the freshman, and during this current run his decision-making has improved substantially. Jordan committed just one turnover, and over the last four games he has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.75.
The understanding of roles has been critical for St. John’s but so has their improved effort on the defensive end of the floor. During this nine-game stretch just four opponents have averaged at least one point per possession, with Georgetown (1.00) barely reaching the mark. Having a shot blocker like Chris Obekpa protecting the rim certainly helps matters, but the improved defense has been a team effort. The Red Storm are playing harder and applying more pressure to the basketball, which has resulted in fewer quality looks for the opposition.
With their best non-conference win coming at the expense of San Francisco, the Red Storm do have work to do in regards to playing their way into the NCAA tournament. But they’ll have opportunities, with games against Villanova, Xavier and Marquette remaining on the schedule. And given their improved play and understanding of what needs to be done, St. John’s has hope, something that couldn’t be said a month ago.