Covering the St. John's University basketball program back to Big East promience. "This year it's time to win."

Thursday, December 28, 2006

News and Notes 12/28

Tonight in the second game of Holiday Festival doubleheader at the Garden, St. John’s takes on the Terriers of Boston University. The first game is Hofstra versus St. Joe’s. Each winner advances to the championship round tomorrow night. Tip is set for 8:30 with the consolation game preceding that.

The Holiday Festival is always one of my favorite sporting events of the year. It is over the Holiday break, takes place over two days, and is held at the Garden. I cannot overstate how great it feels to be back in the Garden after a long series of games held at Carnesecca Arena. Having to sit through the “entertainment”, that includes a game of Hot/Cold with a fan blindfolded over and over, and not being able to recline in our seat because there is no back to your seat, makes the trip back to Madison Square feel long overdue.

St. John’s comes off a win versus Columbia shortly before Christmas. Aaron Spears was held out due to his recent suspension, as was Daryll Hill, because of a deep bruise in his left quadriceps he sustained in the NJIT game.

The team placed decent on a night where they could not buy a basket beyond the three point arch. Leading scorer Avery Patterson was held to 6 point on 2-6 shooting, while Lamont Hamilton finally came up big when needed, scoring, a career high, 36 points on 11-13 shooting.

Hamilton was also utilized in the correct fashion, with him getting the ball down low with his back to the basket. When Hamilton gets the ball further out and has to face up to the basket he is extremely unreliable. His moves often have him committing offensive fouls or tumbling to the floor. He is not quick enough to get around defenders, so he must be used with his back to the basket.

Eugene Lawrence did commit 5 turnovers and only 7 points in 36 minutes, but did finish with 6 steals and 10 assists.

Anthony Mason Jr. had a poor game, 2-10 shooting, but was still able to manage to finish with 11 points. He is being more assertive with the ball in his hands this year and could breakout in this tournament. Surely last year on a game where Mason shot 2-10, he would not have got 11 points and had the chance to finish with 14, had he knocked down all of his free throw attempts.

The rebounding must improve, the Red Storm only out rebounded Columbia 29-28. That being said why is Ricky Torres still stuck on the bench as if his warm-ups are glued on to him?

With the team being left with only 8 scholarship players active for the game, Ricky still saw limited action (8 minutes). He can bring an offensive spark to the game and when he does, the following game he is still buried on the bench. He is shooting much better then his freshman year and needs to play more. If this continues Norm puts him in a situation where transferring could look very enticing to Torres.

Tonight, it is safe to say St. John’s should blow out BU. Their two leading scorers are freshmen guards and if Lawrence and Patterson can shut them down, they can expect a big win.

The final score is meaningless to me, as long as St. John’s comes out on top of course, as long as the rebounding improves and perhaps Lawrence can cut down on his turnover total, I will be satisfied.

In other notes, I spotted Rob Thomas and former player Mohammed Diakite at the Columbia game. Nice to see Thomas is hanging around his future teammates and will not leave St. John’s after he was given a partial qualifier by the NCAA, which will have him suiting up next January.

Some more good news for Johnny fans, Bridgton Academy in Maine was ranked the #1 prep school team in the country by Scout, led by none other then Justin Burrell, an incoming player next season. Dele Coker’s (another player coming in next year) team, South Kent rounded out the top ten. Burrell and Coker are a couple reasons why next season could turn out to be a key season in rebuilding process.

Hope everyone has a good time at the game and if your home, you can check out the games on the MSG Network or on ESPN radio.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Roller-Coaster Action @ SJU

Well, quite a bit has perspired since St. John’s led Texas at the half, in the consolation game at Madison Square Garden about a month ago.

Since that loss the teams progress has been much like a roller coaster ride, when a bad loss to Illinois State at home made fans want to vomit, and back around to the point where you feel much safer then you had a minute ago, after the Johnnies beat up on Niagara in their most recent contest held on December 9th.

In this stretch the Red Storm have mostly struggled, to the point where “Fire Norm” is a frequent phrase on message boards, and their have certainly been times when you cant help but feel that kicking Norm on the cold streets of Jamaica, Queens would be the best thing for the men’s basketball program. But that is a mood point, at least, for the time being, as the administration will absolutely not fire Norm during this season. For the time being, the team needs to salvage this season after getting off to a 6-3 start, when a 8-1 start was certainly in reach.

St. John’s needs to continue to improve off of every single effort, to be ready in time, for Big East Competition starting in the New Year. For now they have a couple games this week, versus some easy competition, at the Lou (Carnesecca Arena) that will have huge implications to how this team looks going into conference play, where post season bids are awarded.

Sorry about the long layoff, but certainly more posts to come in the next few months.