"This game is like that little hair in your shower," one announcer said, referring to the slow end of the game, "you scrape and you scrape, and you can’t get rid of it."
Marquette enjoys their New York visit, defeating the St. John's Red Storm 73-64. Marquette improves to 19-6, 9-5 in Big East play; St. John's falls to 10-15, 4-10 in Big East play.
For the Marquette readers who visited yesterday to enjoy that car wreck of a basketball game, I’m kind of sorry. Your squad won, and were defensively bothersome in the first half. But they played a St. John’s basketball team that can’t find a way to get the ball to their best player.
If you want more excuses, the Johnnies most efficient scorer was hurt with an ankle injury (more on Larry Wright later), DJ Kennedy apparently had an owie (bruised tailbone) but he played, and Tomas Jasiulionis had an ankle injury; if he played, he would have just put Marquette players on the free throw line. He’s 6’10" and earthbound, but keeps leaving his feet.
Anthony Mason played decently. Sean Evans, as Art Howe would say, "battled." Dele Coker fouled hard and even pulled down some rebounds in a manner that reminds us of what kind of potential the big, raw center has. Mike Cavataio, inserted into the starting lineup, picked up quick fouls and didn’t get to show his stuff, especially with Paris Horne having his good game (his bad game consists of jumpers that hit the backboard wide right and wide left).
Cracked sidewalks also has a recap; and reporter Ray Floriani also filed a report for the blog. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter Todd Rosiak also files a post-game report, with a note that Justin Burrell might be thinking about transferring out of the program. from what I hear, just rumors.
The upshot is that the Red Storm didn’t attack inside; they had few opportunities to run; and as such, freshman forward Justin Burrell was a non-factor. The turnovers (23), as always, killed the team; even though the Johnnies got to the line 40 times (!), they couldn’t hit those gimmes, with Eugene Lawrence as the main culprit, missing 7 of 12. But the Storm shot over 30%—even over 40%! They scored more than 60 points! This is the best showing they have had in Madison Square Garden this season with the exception of the Holiday Festival win over Marist in December.
St. John’s faces Duke at Cameron Indoor on Saturday. And after a loss to Miami, the Blue Devils will not lose three straight. I imagine Coach K’s speech in between games will be like the classic Bob Knight pissed off speech supposedly recorded by the Nets' Lawrence Frank, but probably with less selfish "I won’t" lines and more of the "we" or "you" kind of talk that good leaders use, even when pissed and focused on their personal goals. There will be more on Coach Norm Roberts and his hot seat later today (dependent on work).
Articles About the Game (after the jump):
NY Post: ROBERTS NEEDS ANSWERS FAST
"I think Norm is tough," Crean told The Post. "I think he's principled. There's no question he's had success. I think Norm is building this program with a no-nonsense, we're going to work full steam ahead. And when I look it, especially watching it on film, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of, when?"
That's the question that's been plaguing most St. John's fans.
NY Daily News: St. John's still can't win at Garden
St. John's (10-15, 4-10) lost for the third straight game and for the fifth time in six appearances at the Garden, where they are 0-4 against Big East foes. Things were so quiet at the World's Most Famous Arena as the Storm fell behind early that when a fan hollered "put in Larry Wright," Justin Burrell screamed back from the court "he's ---- hurt."
Roberts juggled his lineup in an attempt to avoid an early deficit. Mike Cavataio, who impressed with an eight-point, six rebound effort in Saturday's loss to Villanova, got his first start with an eye toward more energy and ball movement. He was in for Kennedy, who has a bruised tailbone and was limited to 18 minutes. Dele Coker started in place of the injured Tomas Jasiulionis (ankle sprain).
Before the game Roberts told the Johnnies that "the weight of the world is not on their shoulders" in an effort to get them to loosen up.
"They want to please everybody," Roberts said. "I think they want to please their parents, the fans and St.John's....I want them to have fun and just play."
NY Newsday: St. John's falls to Marquette
"I was happy with the way the guys responded," Roberts said. "They played with energy and in an attack mode."
Unfortunately, that was only after they bumbled and fumbled through the first 30 minutes. St. John's was charged with a season-worst 23 turnovers, including 16 in the first half.
"We don't have a confidence problem," Roberts said. "We have a young, inexperienced problem. We're asking our freshmen to be juniors. It's not fair. We're playing against really good teams. Those [Marquette] guys are juniors. They've been playing together a long time and they know how to win."
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Late fade proves a bit unnerving
"We played great in the first half and the beginning of the second half, and then we just lost focus a little down the stretch," McNeal said. "It's nothing I would call concerning. We've got to continue to keep our focus, no matter if we're up by 10 or 20. We've got to continue to do things that work."
That MU wasn't up by more than 12 points heading into halftime was head-scratching, considering St. John's committed 16 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes - more than five of the Golden Eagles' last six opponents had committed in 40 minutes.
James and McNeal each had 11 points in the first half, doing the majority of their damage by getting into the gaps of the Red Storm's zone and either scoring themselves or dishing off to waiting teammates. Thanks largely to that twosome, MU wound up scoring 26 of its points in the paint.
MU also held St. John's scoreless for a stretch of 5:04, which wasn't that difficult to believe considering the Red Storm really presented no serious scoring options aside from Anthony Mason Jr. and Justin Burrell.