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Game #29: St. John's 84, DePaul 63

Box score

Whoa. The Red Storm slammed the Blue Demons 84-63 at Allstate Arena.

I can't say I expected that kind of beating. The game wasn't close. it was a battle of two coaches (DePaul's Jerry Wainwright + St. John's Norm Roberts) trying to keep their jobs, hated by their fanbases, and carrying possibly-tenuous "vote of confidences" from their Athletic Directors.

It should have been a gritty affair.

Instead... I am not sure DePaul knew what day the game was.

St. John's jumped out early, allowed them to get within 5, and Statsheet reports that the game was statistically out of reach with 8 and a half minutes left to go. It was a good game for me and my wife, sitting behind the St. John's bench with six other Red Storm fans. I think the players were surprised to hear the cheers for the starting lineup.

Or to hear the raucous cheers for John Taubeneck, the walk-on who got a minute of burn at the end of the game. We actually got a family of DePaul fans to help us chant "NUM-BER FOUR! NUM-BER FOUR!"

As for the game - this St. John's team that clocked in at around .93 points per possession - meaning it takes them more than two times down the court of offense to score two points (which is not good) - put up 1.37 points per possession. In the preview, I pointed out that DePaul makes every team in the Big East as efficient as Pittsburgh. One would have thought the close loss to Villanova would have emboldened the Blue Demon defense.

But they could not slow down Paris Horne (5-8 3-pointers, 17 points) or D.J. Kennedy (5-6 w/ 6-8 from the line, 17 points)... or Rob Thomas (7-9, 14 points) or Sean Evans (6-8, 15 points). It was a slow-paced game. DePaul even committed two shot clock violations.

St. John's worked the ball around patiently; Kennedy got the drives he wanted; and Paris Horne made the most of clean, un-manhandled looks from the outside. Rob Thomas missed a free throw, got into the lane, corralled his miss, and flipped the ball in for a lay-up. TyShwan Edmondson even got some minutes (but still lost his man at times; and Phil Wait got to log some minutes alongside Tomas Jasiulionis. Enjoy it, fellas. You looked like solid ballers, and there won't be another game this easy until next year.

The fans also want to know why Dele Coker didn't make the trip. Is he sick... or is it something more insidious?

With respect to the 5 Points/ Keys to the Game:

St John's logo

It’s An Hour Earlier In Chicago? The Red Storm came out to play against DePaul. There was hardly much let up in their effort, though DePaul got close in the middle of the first half. Most of the players were aggressive with their opportunities.

When they ran, they ran effectively. A

St John's logoGlass All Full? DePaul actually outrebounded the Red Storm, but that also has to do with the Johnnies scoring more than 60% of their baskets. And they made the offensive rebounds count, and didn't get beaten by inferior talents or Mac Koshwal.

Jasiulionis played and looked pretty good banging. That just sounds wrong. B+

St John's logoDrive to the Basket? Good work staying in motion on offense, or at least finding ways to attack. Though the team sometimes looked stagnant, they drew a decent number of fouls and got DePaul's guards chasing to the point where they were ineffective on defense. A-

St John's logoThe Walker Principle? Paris Horne really stuck with Will Walker, giving him little room to get off shots. The team was helped by Dar Tucker's general reluctance to see that he plays with 4 other guys in the same jersey, but Will Walker had some tough going for periods, though he ended up with 15 points. A

St John's logoDon’t Be the First? DePaul still not won in calendar year 2009. And the players were pretty good with the ballhandling, didn't get caught doing something that they couldn't complete, played team basketball, defended well, and executed. A+.

Some fan photos will be posted tomorrow.

Post-Game Media was all from Chicago. I guess it's not worth the trip and short cab ride from O'Hare to see that dog of a game.

+ Chicago Tribune: DePaul never in game against St. John's

+ Daily Herald: State of DePaul hoops just pathetic

+ Daily Herald: Same old, same old for hapless DePaul

The Red Storm shot 70 percent in the opening 32 minutes and built a 30-point lead before settling for an 84-63 Big East victory on Hall of Fame Day at Allstate Arena.

As St. John's wrapped up its first road win in nearly 13 months, several fans stood and clapped while chanting "Fire Jerry! Fire Jerry!"

This came on the heels of repeated booing that echoed in the one-third-full gym.

+ Chicago Sun-Times: Bottom falls out -- again

''I know they probably thought this was a game they [DePaul] might get, but our guys stayed focused,'' said St. John's coach Norm Roberts, whose team is 14-15 overall, 5-11 in the Big East. ''When we're in cities like this [New York and Chicago], people have to be patient -- and that's not a word people use often.

''This league is so hard, and it's frustrating. You know you're going to take your lumps. But Jerry is a good coach. He's done it a long time. Sometimes it's a matter of letting guys grow and get better.''

But even Wainwright admitted his patience is strained, and he stressed the importance of his players committing to their offseason work to get better.

''I don't know if it's the pressure of trying to win one game, but the bottom line is we didn't execute what we practiced,'' Wainwright said. ''There are several young teams in the league with us, like St. John's, South Florida and Rutgers, and we've arguably played our worst in those games.''

+ Chicago Sun-Times: Struggling team needs time, fans' patience

+ Joe College Blog (Daily Herald): Jeannie and Dar Tucker's AAU guy say their piece