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December 10, 2013

St. John's was on fire





Who was that team in the white and red uniforms?

Watching from my vantage point, I just kept seeing the ball go up in the air and then fall through the net. They weren't missing any shots.

Seriously, who were they?

I know it said St. John's on the front of the jersey. But that team had to be an imposter. I have never seen the Red Storm play the way they did Saturday afternoon against Fordham. They shot an incredible 66 percent from the field from the game. For the majority of the game, they shot around 79%.

That's basically 8 shots made for every 10 shots taken. I know I wasn't the only one who was shocked at what I saw. Plenty of fans, longtime Johnnie supporters, had to be shocked as well. No, I will not go for the "pleasantly surprised" route.

So at the risk of being redundant, I was shocked. I've seen tons of St. John's games over the last decade. Never saw them shoot this way. This wasn't a game full of lay-ups. It was everything from the perimeter. About the only thing Fordham did better than the Johnnies was offensive rebound.

You can laugh out loud at that. Offensive rebounding is only a product of missing your shots. St. John's wasn't missing shots. Fordham was. A lot of shots were missed by Fordham.

Oh yeah. The final score was 104-58.

It was ridiculously easy for St. John's. This might be the sign fans were looking for. St. Johns may have finally turned the corner and will start being a national force. This is what a high major team is supposed to do to an Atlantic 10 team. At least that's supposed to happen theoretically.

St. John's was too big for Fordham. They were too fast for Fordham. They were too athletic for Fordham. The Red Storm had future professional basketball players while Fordham does not have any obvious next level players on their roster.

JaKarr Sampson didn't miss a shot. The talented 6-8 sophomore kept knocking down that short jumper from the key. If not, he wasn't gliding to the rim for an easy lay-up. He played all of 15 minutes. Sampson is looking more and more like this will be his last season playing for the University. He finished with 12 points and rested a whole lot.

The man in this game, or at least the player who had the most outstanding game out of a bunch of standout performances was Orlando Sanchez. He was impressive and got to show off a few of the tools that make him intriguing. He finished with a game high 19 points, 8 boards and 4 assists. The 6-9 Sanchez really does have all the tools to play on the next level. He's 6-9, but his skills translate more into a wing player. The only drawback is his age. Three years younger and he's a draft pick. I don't have a handle on what scouts think of him now, but I personally like what I see from him.

Of course, my favorite player did work as usual. You just have to love Sir'Dominic Pointer. I mean the kid does EVERYTHING. I know I can't write that every time I mention the kids' name, but he really does work. All the little things that are needed to win games, he does. And he does it with a lot of style. It may have been a blowout, but his stat line was fat with numbers.

12 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks. Almost a triple-double.

Head coach Steve Lavin trusts Pointer. It's obvious. You don't even have to ask him. But Lavin has said on record that Pointer is part of every comeback St. John's has made since Lavin has been there. The Johnnies were never threatened against Fordham. Still, Pointer is going to be a major piece to the success of the Red Storm this season.

One other common theme for this season is the development of freshman Rysheed Jordan. He was back in the starting lineup after not being in it for a few games, starting with him being suspended from the team last month. Lavin said he had to take care of a few things to make sure he could come back to the team. Starting the game is a sign that he has been doing those things.

And Jordan's body language was the best I've seen it this season. I guess it's easy to "look happy" when your team is close to doubling the other team on the scoreboard. Still, he scored 9 points and dished out 5 assists. I'm convinced he is already the most talented passer on the team. He made a couple of passes that were above average. It will be interesting to see how well he develops this season. We know he's leaving, but will it be after this season, or will he follow Sampson's lead and play next season as well. Right now the arrow points to him being here next year, but sometimes kids grow up real fast during the span of a few months.

On another note, Fordham freshman Jon Severe made his Garden debut. He didn't have a good game at all, shooting 1 for 21. It was bad for last years Mr. New York Basketball. But you have to give the kid credit. He continued to play extremely hard despite his team getting blown out and him having a horrible game. You might be able to measure a player's height, but you can't measure their heart. Severe will be successful playing at Fordham. Right now he's just a freshman.

He's a freshman who unfortunately had to play a high major team with more than a couple of pro prospects who were hot all game long.

St. John's was on fire.




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