No pregame, but an actual win. A superstitious man might consider not doing pregame posts...
Malik Boothe started and played 37 minutes after his month-long absence, and Rob Thomas played 18 minutes in his return from injury. Norm Roberts' squad gets its 12th win, eclipsing last year's total.
To recap the 5 Points/ Keys of the Game:
Strong Down Low. The Red Storm held the South Florida Bulls to 20% of their available offensive rebounds, while dominating their own offensive glass (33% offensive rebounding); note that St. John's missed fewer shots. Good work here.
Take Advantage of the Weak Spots. South Florida's Alex Rivas-Sanchez, Justin Leemow, Eladio Espinosa, and Aris Williams committed 3 fouls each, not bad. Justin Burrell scored 10 and had 10 free throws (more on him later), Sean Evans scored 11 with 10 boards, Rob Thomas scored 6 and 4 boards, and Dele Coker scored 2.
Patience. The return of Malik Boothe at times looked like the return of good passing and patience. Boothe himself put up a couple of long distance shots the team could have done without. But mostly, the offense flowed solidly even in the face of double teams on Burrell and Horne. Decent work.
The Right Balance. This point is where a bit of "fail" happened. Justin Burrell had a great game getting to the line, but with a front line like the Bulls have, how does he only get 5 shots? At times, he was certainly tentative... but they have to feed the post scorer! Feed! Feed!
Sean Evans gets shots because he hustles ahead... should Justin be doing the same? As well, Kennedy went 2-9 from the field; his 5 assists were really nice, and he should look to pass off the drive a little more.
Keep It Cold From the Outside. Dominique Jones scored 16 on 7-14 shooting. He wasn't held cold but shot 2-7 from beyond the arc. Jesus Verdejo - the other dangerous perimeter scorer - was 1-6 from the three and 3-11 overall. Not bad work here. Gus Gilchrist somehow went 4-14 overall while shooting 2-3 from beyond the three-point line. 2-11 inside the arc? Get closer, Gilchrist, get closer.
Apparently Justin Leemow's friends and family came out in force for the game. Leemow is from Brooklyn and played at Xaverian; he also played some AAU ball with Gus Gilchrist (and perhaps was part of a package deal? Hm). Leemow's people were talking smack to the Red Storm's DJ Kennedy and Malik Boothe... that's how the city game's played, I suppose.
St. John's president Father Harrington - usually a no-show at games - came out and spoke on the program and how he feels about head coach Norm Roberts to Roger Rubin of the Daily News and Lenn Robbins of the New York Post. More on the articles later.
Aside from getting its second win in three games, St. John's was happy to see sophomore point guard Malik Boothe return to action. Boothe, who missed the last nine games with a broken left thumb, finished with five points, three assists and three turnovers in 37 minutes.
"I was just having fun out there," Boothe said. "I spent six weeks sitting out and wondering how I could come back and help my team. Today, I just brought the toughness and the leadership that the team needed."
For the most part, Boothe was satisfied with his performance. "In the first half, I had two turnovers which I shouldn't have had," he said. "Besides the three turnovers, overall I was happy with my performance."
Boothe's return was a blessing for St. John's, according to his coach. "[His presence] puts everybody more in their roles of what they do best," Roberts said.
Horne also is on Boothe's list of admirers. "It is a little different," he said. "Malik matches up better with the other guards, so it allows the rest of us to get better shots off."
Five Boro Sports: Second-half stinginess leads St. John's against USF
Fittingly, defense is what helped give Roberts' team a win Sunday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena. St. John's held South Florida without a field goal for 10:08 in the second half and pulled away for a 65-48 Big East victory.
"I thought we did a great of job of when we weren't scoring, we didn't let them score," Roberts said.
St. John's topped South Florida Sunday and finds itself in some prestigious company today. The 65-48 victory at Carnesecca Arena pulled the Red Storm into a tie with No. 22 Notre Dame and No. 23 Georgetown in the Big East standings.
Never mind that it's a three-way tie for 10th place.
St. Petersburg Times/ Tampabay.com: St. John's Red Storm routs South Florida Bulls basketball
Justin Leemow hit a 3-pointer from the corner, and the home fans fell silent, ceding the floor to the handful of USF friends and family seated behind the visitors' bench. After a difficult first half, the Bulls led St. John's by two points with 12:55 remaining.
But in a season full of struggles, the good times didn't last long. USF didn't score again for nearly eight minutes as the Red Storm built an 18-2 run, running off with a 65-48 win Sunday at Carnesecca Arena.
"What hurt us today was we didn't have the patience to work for a good shot," Heath said. "We just settled for so many questionable shots. That's where I thought we just didn't do our part in terms of executing the way we should have."
The Bulls were off-kilter from the start, needing 41/2 minutes to score their first points, but they stayed in the game and woke up after halftime. Gus Gilchrist hit a 3-pointer on the first play of the second half and USF scored on eight of its first 12 possessions.
Leemow's 3-pointer — his only points of the game — gave the visitors a 40-38 lead, but St. John's answered with a putback basket and renewed defensive vigor.
"That was a key moment in the game where we had a little run going and we didn't build on it," Heath said. "Eventually, St. John's capitalized on our inability to score."