"The Rock", as New York Post's Lenn Robbins called St. John's guard Phil Greene IV, came to play. For St. John's, who sputtered out of the gate, "the Rock" was a vital part of their win against Detroit.
During his freshman year, Greene averaged 31 minutes per game shooting 36.7% from the field and 28.4% from the 3-point range. Against Detroit, Greene shot 58.3% and 100% (2 for 2) respectively. The difference is in the smoothness of every stroke, the confidence behind every shot and the will to penetrate the lane and finish at the rim.
If there was a category for confidence, Greene would have filled it up perfectly.
"Last year, no one knew but I had something torn in my wrist, so that's why a lot of my shots last year were hard for me to shoot. But this year I'm full health so I'll be fine," said Greene during the press conference.
Guess he would fill up the "warrior" category as well.
With D'Angelo Harrison starting the game on the bench, Greene took the leadership role for the Red Storm in the first half. The Johnnies were down eight at halftime, but Greene's 11 points, his passing, and his defense kept the game close.
The second half was more of the same for Greene - hitting open shots, making precision passes and even boxing out big men for rebounds.
At the 16:51 mark of the second half, Greene raced up court, drove past his man and tilted his body in the air against Titans big man Evan Bruinsma to lay the ball off the glass, helping cut the Red Storm deficit to two points. A big shot.
"Phil stepped up and hit big shots in the first half when we were struggling," said Harrison. "His shots kept us in the game and then once we got more stops we were able to take off from there."
Greene finished with 20 points, a new career-high, on 7-12 shooting (2-2 3-point; 4-4 FT) six assists and six rebounds in 40 minutes of play. Greene played all game and never seemed to look gassed. He played with tons of energy throughout the whole game. It'll be curious to see how he preforms in the Charleston Classic - three games in four nights.
Steve Lavin said that Felix Balamou would not be red shirted, meaning he will be backing up Greene and Harrison in the backcourt.
Greene was one of the five returning players from last season who rarely saw the bench due to the depth issue. One of the bright points from last season was the built stamina that has carried over so far this season.
Greene acknowledged during St. John's media day he wouldn't be playing point that much with coach Lavin wanting Harrison to run the team.
"This year I'm going to be more of a scorer because D'Angelo is going to running the point guard a lot more. So I have to be aggressive," said Greene at media day.
Aggressive, sharp, relentless and gritty. Those are the attributes Phil "The Rock" Greene showed in the opening game of the season. If that continues along with Harrison's play, Chris Obekpa's all-around defensive display, and the rest of the cast playing their roles, St. John's has a lot to look forward to this season.