An afternoon game at resurgent South Florida (16-10, 6-8) for a St. John's team (15-11, 5-9) reeling from another bad, sloppy loss. South Florida needed to win to get a chance at the NCAA Tournament, they had a lot to play for.
So of course, they wilted against the Red Storm defensive pressure, losing 74-58.
Dominique Jones was covered by D.J. Kennedy and even better by the length of Anthony Mason Jr. The rest of the team had opportunities; Mike Mercer was strong on the drive, and Chris Howard had some success driving to the hoop. And everyone else simply stunk for the Bulls on both ends. Gus Gilchrist looked like the same not-quite-team player that he did on the team last year. Jarrid Famous was the least impactful 6'11 player I have seen in a while.
And with the exception of Anthony Mason Jr., whose touch on his shots continues to be unfortunately inconsistent (though he reached 1000 points in his college career), the Bulls made the Johnnies look like great scorers, giving up easy baskets and only trying to defend in stretches.
The Storm shot 58.7% overall; 50% on their 10 3-pointers. They posted an offensive efficiency of 123.3 (or scored 1.23 points per possession) and an effective field goal percentage of 64.1%.
Some perspective for you: That is the highest percentage the Red Storm has shot this year.
That is the highest efficiency they have posted. Consider that this team has played Bryant University, Long Island University, and Notre Dame and Providence, defensively indifferent teams. I have no idea why this game was so much more efficient than others... no idea.
Credit to Malik Boothe for getting into the lane and scoring. Maybe the Bulls left the lane open, but he really took advantage with his quickness. And Paris Horne missed his 3 2-point shots, but hit all three 3-pointers. Justin Burrell pulled down 10 rebounds, 4 offensive. Very good games all around.
The team built a bulge and maintained the lead in the second half; South Florida's poor three-point shooting made a comeback difficult. And we saw Ryan Kardok, which meant something had gone horribly wrong, as Voodoo 5 told us yesterday.
From the pregame Keys to the Game:
Slow Dominique. Well done by St. John's. The team defended Jones well, with the help defenders active in keeping him out of the lane and some zone defense; he was held to 17 points on 18 shots. A
Defend the Drive (And Run Outs). Mike Mercer got to drive into the lane, and there were a couple of runouts, but Crater and Howard's effectiveness wasn't great. Both stayed to form, with Howard taking 42% of his shots (5 of 12) from beyond the arc, hitting 1; and Crater taking 4 of his 5 shots from beyond the arc (hitting one). Someone should tell Crater that's a bad idea. A-
Run Some Offense. The South Florida bigs never ended up in foul trouble, but they also didn't trouble the St. John's offensive players. The Red Storm looked like a crisp-passing team with an ability to stretch defenses and get to the hoop. I don't know where that came from, but I'll take it. A-
Post Position. Well done in keeping the Bulls out of the post, though they didn't try to utilize the post all that much. Jarrid Famous was a non-factor, and Gus Gilchrist looked lost. St. John's cleared 71% of available defensive rebounds, a very good mark. A
Defend Without Fouling. Also well done. Good position defense meant 3 free throw attempts for Jones, 5 for the slasher Mike Mercer, and an inability for the Bulls to keep up with the Red Storm. A
South Florida Official Site: Postgame quotes
When Malik Boothe showed up for St. John's practice on Thursday he saw something very disturbing. The devastating home loss to Seton Hall the night before had taken more of a toll than expected. His teammates changed into their gear in silence.
Boothe, the team captain and starting point guard, had never seen that before. He went upstairs to coach Norm Roberts' office to tell him they had a problem.
The junior couldn't believe what Roberts did next. He assembled the players and told them the Big East had granted the Red Storm permission to forfeit the remainder of its games. Reactions ranged from confusion to outrage.
Then he told them he had an even better idea: go to South Florida, win and come home with a run of three victories in four games. And that's exactly what the Johnnies did Saturday, following a horrific shooting effort Wednesday with their best of the season in a 74-58 triumph at the Sun Dome.
NY Post: St. John's surprises South Florida
Roberts explained the dramatic improvement on offense for his team.
"We took shots that were in rhythm," he said. "We were confident in how we were shooting the ball. We were confident where we were getting the basketball. And when we play that way, we shoot the ball well. Guys just stepped up and made plays."
"I thought the great thing about our team is that no one made excuses after the Seton Hall game," Roberts said. "We didn't get it done. We just didn't get it done as a team, and we knew we let go of a great opportunity, and we had to come back stronger today."
St. Petersburg Times: USF loses at home to St. John's, a blow to its NCAA Tournament hopes