basketball Edit

St. John's 2-0; Beats New Hampshire

L.J. Figueroa
L.J. Figueroa (Ravi Rozier)

The game is 40 minutes long. That seems to be the mindset of the St. John’s Red Storm basketball team this season. The game doesn’t end at 15 minutes, or 25 minutes. In order to win, it has to be played for 40 minutes before the winner can claim victory. It’s as simple as that.

L.J. Figueroa played hard every minute he was on the floor. The junior wing has been doing that since he came to the St. John’s program last season. He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket, and Figueroa was able to do that when his team desperately needed someone to provide scoring. He was the man in this game, scoring 25 points to lead St. John’s to a tough 74-61 win over New Hampshire.

The game was an ugly one for the eyes. After dominating the first two games of the season and winning by 30 points in each contest, this was a different type of victory. It was a grind it out type of win for the Red Storm, one where different players stepped in and made key plays at key points of the game.

Marcellus Earlington (8 points) made a lay-up and two free throws about halfway through the 2nd half that finally gave the Johnnies some breathing room. It was a close game up until that point, with New Hampshire leading St. John’s for most of the first half, and the visitors even held a 2 point lead early in the second. But the game is 40 minutes long, so the Johnnies kept on playing.

David Caraher
David Caraher (Ravi Rozier)

David Caraher (9 points) swished an open three at the end of an 11-1 run that put St. John’s up double digits for the first time in the game. They never were really challenged the rest of the game, even though New Hampshire didn’t go down quietly. The reason was the St. John’s defense, with the Johnnies getting their hands on a lot of balls and not allowing anything easy for New Hampshire.

Josh Roberts
Josh Roberts (Ravi Rozier)

Josh Roberts was good defending the rim, and head coach Mike Anderson pointed that out after the game. He said that the sophomore center is starting to see the rotations he is responsible for. Sometimes he’s where he is supposed to be when the guards were not. The end result was 4 blocks, which is a career high for Roberts. Roberts had 12 points and rebounds.

Julian Champagnie
Julian Champagnie (Ravi Rozier)

Freshman Julian Champagnie almost pulled off a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 9 boards. The kid looks like he might be a player in his young career. Just a tough hard-nosed player who seems to be gaining confidence. He was another Johnnie who made key field goals in the struggle that was otherwise known as the Red Storm offense. He stepped in and shot a 15-footer with confidence, and also finished a tough inside lay-up where he did a little mini-flex after the basket. It was an impressive play.

Why am I pointing all these guys who made contributions? It was a team win, which is the way I think Mike Anderson wants it. The coach has already said that it will be a different player every night that will step up for St. John’s.

The team defense was really the truth, however. Look at the big picture. They held New Hampshire to 61 points for the whole game. They didn’t win by 30 this time, but the defense carried them through the struggles. The Red Storm needed an entire half and then some before they were able to gain enough momentum to take the lead over New Hampshire. Yes, it was an ugly win, but any win is beautiful when add a one to the left side of the won-loss column. The defense gets major kudos for this effort.

Figueroa was the guy to carry the offense in this game. He was the one who just kept putting the ball in the basket and got on a roll. Still, despite the 3 pointers he was draining from all over the floor (5 out of 9 attempts), there was another stat that may have been more impressive for a player who plays hard at both ends of the floor. He had 5 steals on his own. Any fair weather fan can see the nice big 25 on the scoreboard next to his name when the game was over. However, sometimes you have to look a little deeper into the stat sheet to figure out how much of an impact a player really had on the game.

I said they should be 5-0 after the first five games on the schedule, all at home. Nothing has happened that has caused me to change my mind. They have another “easy” one on Saturday afternoon, when Vermont visits Carnesecca Arena.