(NOTE: photos courtesy of Red Storm Sports)
Many teams cough up a bad loss.
But after a decently competitive game against the Georgetown Hoyas, where it seemed that the team was only a few sloppy plays from the road upset, they come home and play with the lack of concentration and crispness they had against Stony Brook and Bryant. The Red Storm couldn't figure out the press of the Friars, despite having more experience, and having last year's debacles to draw on.
I suppose they didn't do well with the press then, but one would think that in every game, they would be prepared... and moreso without their starting point guard, Malik Boothe.
Providence wasn't doing that well. Jamine "Greedy" Peterson was frustrated in front of friends and family, the team couldn't get a basket to fall. But the turnovers in the first half left the Red Storm will less of an advantage on the scoreboard than they should have had. It was all sloppy play.
The second half found the team giving up 42 points and scoring 26, for a beating of 15 points to a team that lets anyone score.
This blog is frustrated with the loss, and I am beginning to wonder about the coaching staff's job security. At this point - after 6 years - it's time to get at least to the middle of the Big East, if not the NCAA Tournament. I think the Tournament would be an amazing leap, especially looking at where the team was last year; but earlier, it seemed like the Storm could sneakily work out a 9-9 Big East record and maybe get into the tourney on the strength of wins against solid teams earlier in the year.
But they cannot afford to lose to Providence. Even though they get DePaul twice, the league is tough, and they need to do better, starting with Louisville.
Player/ Game Notes
+ A 74 possession game - as fast as Providence's average and faster than St. John's... I think the visiting team controlled the tempo. Must have been the turnovers.
+ St. John's turned the ball over on 31.1% of their possessions. Really? Providence: 13.5% of their possessions. Wow. That is a performance hearkening to last year with Quincy Roberts on the court. But Dwight Hardy and Malik Stith are better ballhandlers... so wtf. The Friars were credited with 16 steals, but I think that more than 7 of the turnovers were unforced.
+ St. John's had 54 points with 7:53 remaining in the game. They ended with 59 points.
+ Speaking of which, the Friars quickly went to a zone in the first half and a press late in the first, the two defenses that really slow down the Red Storm. Which is to say they're only offensively crisp against halfcourt man.
+ I give the players the benefit of the doubt, but even in a game like this, there's no excuse for ignoring the outstretched hands of Justin Burrell, working to get offensive position inside. He had 4 shots, 5 points, and numerous slides to the strong side only to see a three-pointer fly instead of the ball coming inside. I always thought good basketball required at least a touch in the post - especially against the zone.
+ It looks like Sean Evans (14 minutes) was put into the doghouse for his play, but in truth, he might have been a better ballhandling option than Burrell, and a better finisher than Rob Thomas. But I can't blame a single player, it was a team-wide brainfart that happened against Providence, but a brainfart that doesn't bode well for the future.
+ Omari Lawrence made some nice plays in his 5 minutes. Malik Stith got the start and was probably a little better than his box score line indicates. He had 5 turnovers, 4 points, a steal, and an assist. He also went 0-4 from the free throw line. While watching a different game over the weekend (at Loyola-IL) my wife saw guys bricking free throws and says "really? REALLY?" She is right. They're free throws. Come on, fellas. Missing 1 is unfortunate. Missing 2 of 4 is pretty poor. Missing 4 of 4 is serious nerves combined with uncertain technique.
+ Providence's Sharaud Curry seems to have found his stroke. Brian McKenzie as well. The Friars might have bricked a lot of shots, but not turning the ball over - while forcing 23 TO's by St. John's - sure helps a team stick around. A solidly prepared team.
Media Coverage + Blogs
RedStormSports.com: Red Storm Stopped In Queens By Providence, 74-59
"We had a chance to open it up, but didn't take advantage. We got in a rush in the last four minutes and didn't make plays. It was a learning experience for my team."
On struggling in the final minutes:
"Tonight we didn't make plays, we bobbled balls and we got way too rushed. We knew it was coming and we didn't handle it well."
On lineup changes:
"We miss Malik Boothe and it is a lot of pressure to put on Malik Stith as a freshman point guard. We put Dwight Hardy there, but it takes away from his offensive game because he is thinking about running the team. We have to fight through it and do what we have to do."
On the long season ahead:
"We can't let our mistakes fester, We will take a day off and regroup on Tuesday to work on what we didn't do well and get better. We have to play better, handle the ball better and finish plays. It is a learning process for my team. We will work on things and get better."
Junior Forward D. J. Kennedy
On the mentality down the stretch:
"We fell apart mid-way through the second half. There were a few balls and a few plays that we didn't convert and they opened it up. We can't win games with that many turnovers. We started rushing and could still close the game. We should have been able to close it down the stretch."
On the second half deficit:
"We felt we needed to come back so fast. We should have stayed poised under the pressure."
Junior Guard Paris Horne
On second half pressure:
"We should have been more poised, but we were thinking about making quick baskets. We will go back to practice and work on it and it will come."
On the Providence press defense:
"We worked on it, but we didn't make shots and we rushed. We did well with the press for the majority of the game."
Indeed, St. John's looked far better in its offensive sets than Providence, knocking down jumpers and navigating the Friars' zone for easy buckets. At the other end of the floor, Providence couldn't hit a shot. Even its nice drives ended in rim outs, and mostly the Friars were missing low-percentage looks. As evidence of the disparity in offensive flow, the Red Storm had 19 assists on 25 made field goals for the game, while Providence had just 13 on 22 makes.
But then there were the turnovers, which would be the game's storyline. Instead of being behind by 10 or 12 points, Providence trailed by just four with 7:50 to play, because the Friars continued to force St. John's miscues, and often the miscues -- a season-high 23 giveaways -- weren't forced at all.
New York Post: Johnnies Cough Up League Win
Torch Sports: St. John’s fall to Providence in Big East home opener
Projo.com: PC knocks off St. John’s, 74-59
Projo Hoops Blog: PC knocks off St. John’s, 74-59
Friar Basketball: 2004-05 Start Avoided
State of Friars Basketball: Friars Overcome Poor Shooting to Beat Red Storm