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TOPIC: JPM114 Game Piece

JPM114 Game Piece 1 week 2 days ago #365959

  • Paultzman
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“For a bit over 30 minutes, St. John’s had played some of its best basketball of the season in what would ultimately be a 79-69 win over St. Peter’s. Effective ball movement and unselfishness to the tune of 24 assists on their 29 total field goals helped St. John’s establish and extend an early lead and they looked like a team that was more than ready for its Madison Square Garden debut on Saturday.

For the first time in several games both Mustapha Heron and LJ Figueroa were scoring consistently. Combine that with a first career double double from Julian Champagnie and the Johnnies appeared well on their way to what looked like an easy win. They had sprinted to a 28-6 lead early in the game behind a hot shooting start from Champagnie, whose 8 quick points included a pair of 3-pointers, who combined with Figueroa and Heron to send St. John’s into the intermission with a 37-23 advantage. They stretched that margin to 25 points when reserve David Caraher, who played well again off the bench, connected on a long triple with 8:10 left in the game.

The Johnnies would eventually secure the win but it would not come as easily as their performance early in the game indicated it should have.

Shaheen Holloway’s Peacocks roared back with a 19-2 spurt beginning with 6:32 left in the game; a rally that was interrupted only by a quick transition basket by Champagnie. St. Peter’s got terrific work during the rally from a number of young players who prepped locally. On the perimeter, freshman Aaron Estrada (St. Benedict’s Prep) was solid from start to finish and particularly strong in the second half finished the game with a team high 18 points and added 5 assists with just a single turnover.

Most troublesome for St. John’s coach Mike Anderson was the damage St. Peter’s was able to do on the offensive glass. While the overall rebound margin for St. Peter’s was small (44-40) their total included 23 offensive boards. It’s worth noting that St. Peter’s was well represented locally in the paint as well as on the perimeter. Freshman brothers Fousseyni and Hassan Drame who hail from Mali and prepped at Our Savior New American School on Long Island combined for 13 points and 9 boards while senor transfer Derrick Woods, a Trenton native who attended Pennsbury High School finished with 6 points and 7 boards. Though the numbers look modest, coach Anderson described how the impact of those guys went well beyond the numbers.

“They took the fight to us at times, Anderson said of St. Peter’s. “From my vantage point we’ve got to learn to get multiple stops. During that time, they got more aggressive. They started getting to all the loose balls and hanging around. All of a sudden the ball started bouncing their way…”

The Peacocks run closed St. John’s margin 75-69 with 1:05 left in the game. From there the Johnnies got one of the defensive stops coach Anderson was looking for. Figueroa then sank 4 free throws to provide the final margin.

As St. John’s heads into Saturday they know they must be better at what coach Anderson called “the finishing parts of basketball”, he said referring to the finishing part of defensive possessions, rebounding. Part of the test on Saturday will be that Hall of Fame coach Bob Huggins’ teams do those “finishing parts of basketball” as well as any in the country. Time will tell whether St. John’s is ready not only for their Garden debut,but for what is surely a step up in basketball weight class as well.

Notes and Observations: In a bit of happy coincidence Champagnie’s first career double double (14 points 11 boards) came with long time Loughlin coach and former St. Peter’s coach Bob Leckie in the audience. He served as a Lions’ assistant during Julian’s time there and coached St. Peter’s from 2001-06. With the win St. John’s raised its record to 7-2 while St. Peter’s dropped to 1-4 with the loss“.
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JPM114 Game Piece 5 days 21 hours ago #366779

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Great piece by my guy John!


Although much of the hype in the St. John’s Twittersphere about Saturday’s match-up surrounded Mike Anderson’s Garden debut, it was a guy making a return engagement who became the star.

In March of 2016 Rasheem Dunn had made his own triumphant visit to MSG, where he teamed with former Johnnie Shamorie Ponds to cap a PSAL title run for Thomas Jefferson High. Fast-forward 3 years and a circuitous basketball journey that took him to Remsen Street in Brooklyn (St. Francis College) to Cleveland State and a protracted transfer battle with the NCAA, and there he was again on the court at MSG; wearing a different jersey, surrounded by new teammates, but still making plays and at the end of the Johnnies 70-68 win over former Big East foe West Virginia making winning plays.

West Virginia had rallied from a 9-point deficit with jus under 4-1/2 minutes left and tied the game at 68 on a 3-pointer by Sean McNeil. On St. John’s next possession Nick Rutherford was blocked on a drive during St. John’s next possession and West Virginia missed a chance to win the game. And that’s where Dunn went to work. First, he stripped Derek Culver of an offensive rebound and gave St. John’s their own chance for a final shot. Out of a time out he then took the inbounds pass, drove around two screens from a “horns” set (double high post) got a shot away through contact and drew a foul. Looking every bit like a guy who had been there before he drained two free throws to provide the margin of victory. Then, after Dunn had handled much of the game’s closing moments perfectly, it was up to the 5 on the floor to put the finish touch on a win with a perfect defensive possession. They forced Miles McBride up the left side and did a perfect job of contesting a difficult three point shot as time expired; getting a hand up without fouling.

Dunn’s late game heroics and his ability to get to the rim all game long were thorns in the side of Bob Huggins and his team from start to finish but there were many heroes who played key roles for St. John’s LJ Figueroa scored all 17 of his points in the first 20 minutes; several them coming thanks simply to his shot making ability when St. John’s appeared stifled and stagnant on offense. Dunn and fellow point guard Nick Rutherford combined for 24 points 7 of the Johnnies 15 steals and made 10 of 11 free throw tries, helping their team to a 22-5 advantage from the line. As a team the Johnnies shot 22-27 from the line while West Virginia shot 5-12.

As they have all season long the bench provided energy and toughness. Marcellus Earlington’s numbers may have been modest (4 points and 5 boards) but he helped St. John’s compete against a WVU team that had significant height and strength advantages inside and helped them survive early foul trouble from Josh Roberts, who came on strong in the second half finishing with a team high 9 rebounds. Last but certainly not least, sophomore guard Greg Williams junior gave St. John’s 17 terrific minutes of defensive energy, fearless basket attacking and a shot-clock beating three-pointer that was even more impressive because he had the awareness to make the play even though he had spent much of the game on the bench. Indeed, coach Anderson has patiently found minutes for Williams as he rounds into game shape following a pre-season back injury and this game could prove to be the start of a big payoff for that patience. In a game that, as the coach suggested “came down to toughness…” he was able to find it not just from one or two guys but from his entire team. With great help from them and a great return engagement from Dunn, coach Anderson’s Garden debut was a smash.

Notes And Observations: Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this win for St. John’s was that they found a way to get it despite being outshot from the floor overall and from beyond the arc. They forced 22 turnovers while committing 14 and had three players in double figures. Figueroa led the way with 17 while Dunn added 13 and Nick Rutherford added 11. With the win St. John’s moves to 8-2 on the season while West Virginia suffered their first loss and moved to 7-1. Talented 6’10” sophomore Derek Culver had 12 points and a game high 18 rebounds for the Mountaineers.
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JPM114 Game Piece 5 days 19 hours ago #366795

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Prior to the game I thought SJU would be in trouble in games with a small lead in the last few minutes because of their poor foul shooting. So they have what will probably be their worst shooting day from the field all year and win the game from the foul line.
College basketball is tough to figure out.
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