After beginning the 1st week of Big East play 2-2, including a strong showing versus Providence and then a gritty win on the road versus Cincinnati, the Red Storm have gone 1-4 over their last 5 games.
First, the Johnnies dropped two against their 6th and 7th ranked opponents, Marquette (by a score of 83-64) and Georgetown (by a score of 69-49). The team suffered a 64-49 road loss to South Florida, who has been a surprise thus far in Big East play, and an overtime heart breaker at Madison Square Garden to Villanova, a game that St. John’s seemed to have a strong hold on at the end.
Going into last night’s matchup against a strong West Virginia team with 15 wins on the season (5 in Big East play), it seemed like another loss was on tap for St. John’s.
Surprise! St. John's won 78-62.
The Red Storm held the game in their hands from start to finish with impressive games from stars Moe Harkless (23 points, 13 rebounds) and D’Angelo Harrison (19 points, 4 assists). The game featured solid performances all around the roster.
Could it be part of an end-of-season turnaround? Let’s take a closer look into each player’s performance over the past 5 games, after the fold.
Stars of the Stretch
Moe Harkless – Once again, Harkless remains in the star category he should be in for the rest of his time at St. John’s.
Averaging 17.8 points per game (ppg) on 49.6% FG shooting and averaging 10.6 rebounds per game (rpg), Harkless has been shouldering the load for St. John’s a lot this season. His continued high-level play will be needed to if the Red Storm want to get more quality wins the rest of the way.
D`Angelo Harrison – Right behind Harkless is Harrison. The way these two complement each other on the court, it’s a surprise there hasn’t been a call for naming them "Batman and Robin". (Maybe we’ll just call them that for now. Can it catch on?)
Harrison continues to be an offensive problem for opposing teams but still has minor things to correct.
Foul trouble seems to be his bug which is hurting St. John’s, such as in their game versus Villanova when the team was down 3-points in the final seconds. Dom Pointer had to take a shot behind the arc instead of finding the sniper who should be taking those shots, who had fouled out.
Nonetheless, Harrison is a vital factor to this team, averaging 14.0 ppg including a 28 point outburst against the Wildcats on Saturday.
Rising to the Occasion
Amir Garrett – Here’s a student-athlete who gets his own category in this evaluation.
Garrett proved his desire to be a part of the Red Storm Basketball program by attending Bridgeton Academy (ME) for the 1st semester and doing all his work inside the classroom to make sure he’d be a part of the program for the 2ndhalf of the year.
After 4 games of trying to define his role on the star-studded young team, the past 5 have found him filling a niche.
Averaging 6.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg and totaling 8 steals, Garrett put himself somewhere he told The Rumble back in the summer where he would be - in the Starting 5.
Garrett is effective and efficient. He doesn’t chuck up shots out of his range but once in a while he will take a three. He'll build his range to expand his game.
Doing Their Job
Phil Greene – Greene is starting to look like a point guard. At this stage, he's not the best fit as a go-to scorer but he is finding the guys that can hit shots - exactly what St. John’s needed this season.
After a slow start in the 1st four-games, Greene’s assist numbers have gone up. In his last three games, he’s improved his assists as well as scoring. The Chicago native is averaging 7.8 ppg to go along with 4.4apg only thing that would be great to see out of Phil is getting aggressive and making it to the free-throw line.
Sir`Dominic Pointer – Talk about a guy who knows how to fill the stat-sheet, Pointer is showing his value night in and night out.
Here is his 5-game stat-line: 7.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.4 blocks per game and 1.8 steals per game. When was the last time St. John’s had a guy do this much this early in his career?
Pointer is a special asset to this team and has been a stable player in the line-up who provides support all over the court.
God`sgift Achiuwa – Achiuwa didn’t get the start against West Virginia, but he did grab 7 rebounds off the bench which is nice for a big man who needs to contribute more on the glass.
Achiuwa can still be hesitant when it comes working down low versus bigger men in the Big East like against the Mountaineers' Kevin Jones. As long as he posts his 7.8 ppg and 5.2 rpg consistently and works to improve his all around game, he can take the to take the rebounding load off of Harkless at times.
Malik Stith – Props to "Pops" versus West Virginia notching 4 points and an assist in his limited minutes.
Stith will continue be on this evaluation as a leader of young guys. His ability to play basketball is there and with the season far from over, you could see Stith’s minutes increase as fatigue beings to hit the young players.
3-5 now in the Big East, the Red Storm get a break from conference play, though it's hard to call a game versus Duke as a break. But if the Red Storm can outrun the Blue Devils like they did last season...