St. John's basketball Game Recap: Niagara 77, St. John's 73

Box Score from Red Storm Sports.

Taking a look at the St. John's game using Ken Pomeroy's output of Dean Oliver's 4 Factors (primer? Read here) of Offensive Efficiency, Effective Field Goal Percentage (which adds weight to three point field-goals), Turnover Percentage, and Free Throw Rate, the stand-out numbers are:

- the turnovers (18 for St. John's for a 26% turnover rate) and 7 for the formerly turnover-prone Niagara (10% rate), and

- the free throw numbers. The raw numbers themselves are staggering. The Purple Eagles got to the line 46 times, compared to 16 for the Red Storm. Coaches and fans will look at the officiating first, but that kind of disparity usually means that one team really found the mismatches and took it to their opponents.

Big man Tomas Jasiulionis played only two minutes, putting a strain on the Red Storm's remaining big men. And those big men proved that they were not up to the challenge of the slashing Charron Fisher, Stanley Hodge, or of bouncing balls.

Dele Coker managed to foul out in 12 minutes, the kind of production one expects of the likes of old poster victim* Travis Knight. Burrell was hardly better, fouling out with less than 4 minutes left to play, leaving the raw Sean Evans in to play center.

Horne had a good game, stroking 4 of 8 three-pointers, though that kind of performance may embolden the freshman. And if you saw the airballs he shot when he wasn't hitting... let's all agree that we don't want him thinking he's a poor man's Vince Carter.

The Red Storm didn't force enough turnovers to maintain the lead, didn't defend the perimeter well, and didn't move their feet. Or, to review the three keys to the game:

- Defend the Perimeter. Thought Charron Fisher didn't go off efficiently, he did make plays. Which is to be expected from the nation's leading scorer; but how did the turnover-prone freshman point guard Anthony Lewis NOT turn the ball over? How did Stanley Hodge and Charron Fisher get inside to draw the fouls on all of the big men? Lawrence seemed slow afoot, top match the slow feet of the big men inside.

- Bust it Inside, or, Make the Pass. Burrell seemed to pass the ball to the perimeter decently, but there wasn't enough busting it inside. Niagara's big man Egomoye only played 19 minutes; Burrell was double-teamed inside for much of the game. But where were the guards penetrating? Larry Wright, especially, didn't get inside to make plays as he had in most of the early season games.

- We’re Still Fly. This is the complete opposite of a confidence builder. The team was skating on its heels because of a MAAC team that was in the play-in game last year? The Red Storm scored well, but they needed to try some different actions to get Burrell more than 7 shots. And the lead-footed defense by the bigs leaves the coaches and fans pining for Wednesday's Rainbow Classic game in Hawai'i, where the team will be joined by F Anthony Mason Jr. (recovering from an ankle injury, and not a lock down defender) and redshirt freshman Rob "Poison" Thomas (who hasn't played organized basketball in almost 2 years due to his academic issues and ACL team in March).

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