It was an eventful few days in Paris for the Red Storm.
Shortly after landing in France to embark on its two-week European excursion, St. John's was active in seeing the sites of one of the oldest cities in the world. The Eiffel Tower and the St. John's Paris campus were just two of the locations the Johnnies had the opportunity to visit during their three-day stay.
Sporting their brand new patriotic red uniforms, specific only to the European tour, St. John's defeated their first exhibition opponent, Rouen Basket, in a close battle that was fought until the end. Jamal Branch's 22 point, three rebound and three assist day led the Storm to a 83-78 (unofficial) victory, its first of 2013-14.
Returning star D`Angelo Harrison scored 17 points for the Johnnies and transfer sharp shooter Max Hooper added 13 on 4-7 shooting from behind the arc. JaKarr Sampson (9 points, 8 rebounds), Orlando Sanchez (8 points, 7 rebounds) and Sir`Dominic Pointer (7 points, 7 rebounds) each also contributed strongly in the victory.
Like they certainly will throughout the coming season, the Red Storm showed off its remarkable athleticism to soar above Rouen, who had previously defeated Alabama just days before.
St. John's also spent all of Thursday viewing Paris' offerings, including the famed and nearly 700 year-old Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Later on Thursday, the Johnnies took on Evreux of the French Pro B League in their second and final exhibition in Paris. The result, however, was not as positive as a day earlier, as St. John's fell to Evreux 85-61 in a game that was not all that close throughout the second half.
Five players - Harrison, Sampson, Pointer, Sanchez and Marc-Antoine Bourgault - scored 8 points for the Johnnies in the losing effort. Bourgault, playing in front of friends and family in his home country, converted twice from long range.
"These games are report cards and provide a helpful checklist of the aspects that we need to improve upon," mentioned head coach Steve Lavin following the loss. "The takeaways and lessons learned from these games will help us accelerate our growth as a team."
The Johnnies have already taken a morning flight to Sorrento of southern Italy, where they will have a few days of cultural experiences before departing for Rome. Daily reports and videos are being posted on the St. John's Athletics website and on the team's social media outlets.