The game where St. John's re-introduced the Drake team to futility
I. Recap | II. Making Plays, all over the roster | III. Keys of the Game Recap | IV. News coverage
Well, holy crud. St. John's really blew out an opponent, drilling the Drake Bulldogs 45-17 at the half and then continuing to harass the Bulldogs for fun. The final score was 82-39. Walk-ons Cameron Edison and Kevin Clark played minutes for the Red Storm. And at the end, Drake's 39 set a new Great Alaska Tournament low for a team.
Mind you, Drake's Iowa State loss was a similarly-bad beating, coupled with the fact that the Cyclones will be one of the worst major-conference teams in Division I this year. And the lower Division I talent level of Southern Utah is no evidence that the Bulldogs were enough of a challenge to start to infer anything that's applicable against other top-100 opponents. I will try not to get too giddy or take too much from the win.
II. Making Plays, all over the roster
Not giddy, but quite satisfied. It was impressive to see:
+ the defense the way it's supposed to work. This kind of pressing works better with a lot of energy; and sometimes, when it's not clicking, there are a lot of open shots. I don't know that St. John's has solved their defensive problems yet; there were open shots in the corner. But for one game at least, those windows to shoot seemed smaller, and the opponent looked uncomfortable.
+ the post players working on their moves - more reps will make those post scoring attempts a bit smoother.
+ the point guards looking very sharp. Malik Boothe (8 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds in 15 minutes) made plays and nailed a pair of open threes. He also beat seven-footer VanDeest for a rebound. Malik Stith (5 points on 1-3 shooting, 3 assists, in 27 minutes) actually saw the floor and his teammates, making good passes; he also had strong drives to the rim. If he keeps this up, he can be a very dangerous backup point.
+ Burrell's rebounding and post defense was inspired; he had 5 offensive rebounds. Last year he left the offensive board work to others. Meanwhile, Justin Brownlee was also a player, mobile, agile, and hostile, leading the team with 13 points and aggressively denying the taller Drake center VanDeest. And Sean Evans even made two free throws in a row, and showed off some post moves mentioned earlier.
III. Keys to the Game
Play Confidently. The Red Storm showed some pep, some energy, and really got after the opponent. They took shots in rhythm, defended very well for much of the game, trapped hard, and drove to the basket well. Drake was punched hard from early in the game and St. John's kept wearing them down like a high-major team should. A
Battle Down Low. St. John's really dominated down low. The shots weren't there for the Bulldogs' forwards or the guards; Seth VanDeest got few touches for long periods in the first half. Well done. A
Guard Play. The guards played well on defense, stifling Rayvonte Rice and Ryan Wedel for the most part and were efficient on offense. DJ Kennedy didn't make a huge impact, but Dwight Hardy really found his game, scoring on deep two-pointers, from beyond the arc, on drives, and assisted on a shot or two. Hardy looked like a complete guard. A
Take Care of Business. They REALLY put Drake away, kept playing hard, and kept running their offense well into the second half. A
Win the Turnover Battle. St. John's forced the Bulldogs into speeding up their movement and into turnovers. St. John's won the battle, though Malik Boothe and DJ Kennedy had 7 turnovers between them; sometimes, they were overaggressive. A-
Anchorage Daily News: St. John's clobbers Drake in semifinal
Des Moines Register: Drake men's basketball: St. John's pounds Bulldogs
KTUU: St. Johns rolls over Drake at Shootout (video)
AP (via NY Daily News): St. John's hammers Drake 82-39 to reach finals of Great Alaska Shootout
The Great Alaska Shootout final is tomorrow night, against the winner of Arizona State/ Weber State nightcap.