basketball Edit

Almost Blow-Out; Almost Blow-Up for Johnnies

Mustapha Heron
Mustapha Heron (Ravi Rozier)

JAMAICA, NY -If there is such a thing as a close blowout, this was it. Of course, that doesn’t make sense, but sometimes things that don’t make sense are perfectly obvious. If you attended or watched the St. John’s versus Saint Peter’s game last night, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The Red Storm beat Saint Peter’s 79-69 in a game that wasn’t really that close. Still, the Peacocks were playing hard and they were trying to get that win which would have been a huge upset for them, so you couldn’t take any credit away from them. However, there is no way that St. John’s felt good about the W.

Mustapha Heron was asked to describe how he felt the team played in the game. The senior guard summed it up in one word, sloppy. That would be a good way to describe what happened on the floor.

The Johnnies came out firing on all cylinders. They were stroking the ball early, scorching the nets. I remember looking at the score after about 10 minutes of gameplay and the score was 28-6, and I thought to myself they’re about to get 100 tonight. Saint Peter’s couldn’t even dribble the ball up the court without taking steps. At least that’s what it felt like because they walked a lot. The Peacocks couldn’t even pass the ball without someone dropping it or the ball going out of bounds. It was looking like an easy win for St. John’s.

The Johnnies even led by 20 with 7 minutes left in the game. Then something happened to them and they became the team that couldn’t dribble or catch. Saint Peter’s started looking like a team who started to realize they could actually win the game.

Julian Champagnie
Julian Champagnie (Ravi Rozier)

The Peacocks should have never been allowed to see the light. However, they did see the light and they were sprinting to it. However, they only got as close as 6 points because of that dude that seems to be cool under pressure. L.J. Figueroa was fouled and stepped up to the line and buried the free throws he was awarded. Nothing but net. It didn’t rattle around the rim, it didn’t bounce of the backboard, just straight through the strings. Figueroa finished with a game high 19 points.

That’s the definition of a close blowout. We’ve all seen it because it happens all the time in basketball. Sometimes it happens because a team gets sloppy, just like Heron said. Sometimes a team can lose interest because they feel they are superior or they have a big game after. The Johnnies are playing West Virginia at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Heron (17 points) and freshman Julian Champagnie were the two players designated to speak to the media. I thought to myself, did they win? They didn’t look like two players who won a game by double digits. No smiles on either one of the players faces. I could barely hear what the freshman said and there was a microphone right in front of him.

Champagnie probably should have been smiling because that young man put in work. He had 14 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double and St. John’s won. Coach Mike Anderson credited Champagnie as a player who was the most consistent rebounder in the game. Frankly, I’m impressed with the 6-8 freshman. He’s been knocking down perimeter shots in every game and he just looks like a player. It’s going to be interesting once they get into Big East play.

Getting back to the point, Champagnie wasn’t smiling. I want to speak to the fly on the wall and find out exactly what went on in that locker room after the game. I suspect that there were some upset dudes in that room. Did someone stand up and drop a couple of filthy words on the team? Did the coach let them know that it was unacceptable?

I can only guess. Still, there should’ve been some upset dudes in that room because they didn’t close out. St. John’s should have won by 30.

Anderson, who often speaks with a smile and has an easy going demeanor when he addresses the media, gave a lot of the credit to Saint Peters. He pointed out the mistakes his team made and what they have to do to get better. There was no angst in his voice, just matter of fact observations about the game. Of course, they won, so maybe it would have been different if the Peacocks were able to actually get all the way back and go back to Jersey with a win over a Big East team.

There was one interesting thing to catch my ear that Anderson implied about his rotation. The coach plays a lot of guys, he goes 10 deep almost every game. That could change in the future if games start to resemble the one they played against Saint Peter’s. That long rotation could become a little shorter if the players can’t figure out how to close out better.