Hanging on for the road win. Next up: Georgetown in Madison Square Garden.
I. Recap | II. Turnovers | III. Keys of the Game Recap | IV. News coverage
For much of the last decade, Providence has been the scene of a great many lowlights for the St. John's Red Storm. The team would falter in what seemed like winnable Big East contests. So while knocking off the Friars in Providence on New Year's, 67-65, doesn't have quite the oomph of winning at West Virginia, it's still another positive check mark on the seniors' list of things to do before graduating.
The game itself was no thing of beauty. If Providence shot better than 29% from the perimeter with their earlier chances, the result would have tilted in their favor. Marshon Brooks was very good for Providence, but got little help inside; Dwight Hardy was better for the Red Storm, who scored 48 points in the paint.
The 68-possession game that featured some imposing runs by both teams. And in those runs, both teams seemed to have a hard time figuring how to stop the bleeding. The Red Storm expanded leads by simply driving the ball into the center of the defense. And in the second half, the Friars spent the last 10 minutes cranking up the pressure on St. John's, generating scoring chances off of turnovers.
A Paris Horne three-pointer and a charge drawn on Friar star Marshon Brooks with 13 seconds left effectively sealed the game for the Red Storm. Nice work by Paris. The end of the game was the definition of hanging on; St. John's had scored 5 points in the six minutes before Horne's three pointer, racking up 3 turnovers and giving up 12 points to the comeback-minded Friars.
All's well that ends well. The Red Storm ground out a win, scoring less than a point per possession because of the turnovers. Dwight Hardy led the team with 21 points and 6 rebounds; Justin Brownlee took over for Justin Burrell, snagging 9 rebounds, 8 on the defensive end. He also had 4 assists, including on the decisive three-pointer by Horne. Meanwhile, Burrell looked like an offensive force, dropping 13 points on Providence's interior defense. Coach Steve Lavin got minutes from Malik Stith and Sean Evans for the first time in Big East play.
But let's talk turnovers, below>>
The Red Storm had 16 turnovers against the Friars, who haven't been great at forcing miscues from opponents. Sure, they get some steals. But Providence doesn't play the kind of frustrating defense that normally forces teams to throw the ball away, dribble the rock off their foot, or step on the end line.
Maybe it was something in the Providence water. Part of the issue in the past games may be the lack of a true point guard; Malik Boothe missed a bit of the West Virginia game with a hamstring issue, and didn't play in the second half of the game at Providence. Still, the Red Storm had turnovers on 23.6% of their possessions; the Friars, 19.1%. St. John's turnover average was one of the top rates in the country (16% of possessions). The ability to hang on to the ball made the Storm special, sneaky.
But against Providence - and possibly because of some eager referees - the Red Storm were called for a number of moving violations/ travels. Often coming off of a screen at the top of the key, and receiving a pass, a player would pause and fake, then drive... only to hear the screech of a whistle.
Are the players trying to move too quickly?
Is it the defenses?
Whatever it is, the coaching staff has to get the Johnnies to not give the ball away because of a lack of discipline or attention to detail. It's tough. The Red Storm are eager to use their crisp offense and energetic motion to attack the basket, but maintaining possession is key for a team that is winning on grit, toughness, energy, and efficiency.
III. Keys to the Game
Pregame notes, with original keys to the game and team pluses
Take Care of the Ball. The Red Storm outshot the Friars, but struggled in the second half with turnovers. In truth, they had some unforced errors in the first half, and for the game had 8 turnovers that were not steals. This needs to improve. C-
Anticipate Fast Attacks. Providence got some runouts late, and got some points in transition off of turnovers. But when the Red Storm defended off of a possession that ended in a shot, they were very good and making the Friars work for their points. A-
Control the Game. St. John's didn't draw a lot of shooting fouls, but did get Friar star Marshon Brooks into foul trouble; they didn't lose control of the game, even when Providence made their late run. B+
Master the Glass. Bang-up job by the Johnnies; the Friars only had 8 offensive boards - 24% of their available misses. That's well below their season average of 34% on offensive rebounds. A
Cover the Perimeter. The outside shooters had some looks, but only a few of the looks were the wide-open, "count to three then shoot" variety. Decent job by St. John's; the Friars also found themselves trapped when they drove to the hoop. B