An unexpected overtime win in a miserable season.
The 59-56 win over the Georgetown Hoyas was an ugly performance all around, let's not get things twisted. But there was definite grit and brawl in the Johnnies. This win doesn't sweeten the bitter taste of the season, but a win in the Garden always feels big, good, and satisfying.
Mike Vaccaro speaks to the ambivalence many Red Storm fans feel - Coach Norm Roberts might just get another year with the St. John's Red Storm after the win - but counters it by noting how Norm's players have not quit on him.
I posted last night about the win, here is a second take/ media update/ Keys to the Game look. This certainly cripples Georgetown's chances of getting into the NCAAs; anything short of a 4-day run through the conference tournament will leave them playing in the NIT.
The 5 Points -or Keys to the Game
(with an assist from the tempo-free numbers from Hoya Prospectus):
Defend Greg Monroe Without Fouling. There was some inspired defense on Greg Monroe, whether it was Justin Burrell staying with him, or Tomas Jasiulionis banging on him. Monroe did take 9 free throws along with his 9 shots, but at the end of the second half, Norm Roberts whipped out a bizarre 1-3-1 zone with length in the front and Malik Boothe - all 5'9" of him - in the back defending Monroe. I guess that is saying that if the ball gets there it's automatic anyway. But it worked. And for neutralizing Monroe and disrupting the Hoya offense, that gets a B+.
Rebound. GREAT job here. Kept the Hoyas off of the offensive boards all game, and just chewed glass in the second half, getting to seemingly everything. Second shots aplenty, none bigger than Justin Burrell's clearout of a miss, clearout of all opponents, and then the muh-f^&*^!! two-hand HAMMER DUNK just to let you know he scored at the end of overtime. My heart went a little pitter-patter there. But overall, fantastic job - DJ Kennedy pulled down 10 defensive boards himself. A+.
Eyes On Your Man. I'm not entirely sure if the outcome from the game owes to good defense or bad execution by the Hoyas. But generally, they weren't able to run their cuts and backdoors; they settled for a few three-point attempts that they should not have. So I will give credit here. B.
Eyes On Your Balls. If they don't turn over the ball so damned much, they win this game going away. Can you believe that?! That is craziness, and speaks to how poorly the Hoyas played. The Red Storm matched the Hoyas in turnover percentage in the second half, but overall, the ballhandling and the passing left MUCH to be desired; better passes would have led to more scoring and free throw opportunities. C-.
Nothing to Lose. They played like they had nothing to lose, even when they didn't score for 13 minutes in the second half. That is admirable, and they fought and scrapped against a team that couldn't put the Red Storm away. The first half was a little more even, with the Red Storm forcing turnovers and giving them back. Extra props for the concentration in the scond half, hitting nearly 92% on their free throws. That's pretty unheard of for this team. A.
My friend Cat Pop is a Georgetown fan... and went to the game. At least she won't have to fret for a few weeks of March, she can just pick a fun team and watch them...
NY Post: Storm March to Upset
Roberts pulled starters Sean Evans and Justin Burrell for Tomas Jasiulionis and Rob Thomas to send a message and maybe light a spark. The spark turned into a flame and St. John's closed the game on a 15-5 run.
Thomas had a career-high 16 points, including two free throws with 2.3 seconds left to tie the game at 51 and force overtime.
"Crazy," said Thomas when asked what he was thinking on the line. "A lot of stuff in my mind."....
"It was probably the best win I've ever been around," St. John's coach Norm Roberts said. "And I thought they deserved it ... Our guys are growing."
The last time St. John's graced the Garden, it was nothing short of a massacre as Syracuse blitzed the Red Storm by 29....
Thomas' play drew praise from Roberts, who said he sometimes has to challenge Thomas to be aggressive....
[Paris] Horne believed it was a must win after playing so badly against Syracuse and with the Big East Tournament next week.
"We played poorly and Syracuse ran us out of the building," Horne said. "It's not over yet, we have a lot to play for."
NY Daily News: Red Storm nips Hoyas in OT
This triumph likely removes any doubt that the embattled coach will be back for a sixth season.
"I'm going to say it was one of the great moments of my career," said [Rob] Thomas, a former New York City playground legend who once had to sleep on subway cars when the heat in his home was turned off. "We toughed it out and everything wasn't going for us. [Coach Norm Roberts] just told us to keep with it, keep scrapping and it turned out we won the game."
The Johnnies outscored the Hoyas 8-5 in the extra period, getting two key foul shots from D.J. Kennedy to take a 57-56 lead and an emphatic put-back dunk by Justin Burrell with 10.1 seconds left for the game's final points.
AP via Foxsports: St. John's 59, Georgetown 56
Norm Roberts said: "We never gave up, even down 15 when everything that could go wrong went wrong. The guys showed tremendous character. I told them 'Don't let the offense affect the defense. All our guys, to a man, stepped up and made big plays."...
"St. John's did what they had to do coming down the stretch," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "They got shots, second shots. They made foul shots. And coming down the stretch we didn't."
The Hoyas made one field goal over the closing 10:40 of regulation and went 6-for-12 from the free throw line over that span and the overtime.
"I don't think we fell asleep or shut it down," Thompson said. "They got stops and we didn't."
Washington Post: St. John's Rallies From Down 15 to Stun Hoyas in OT
....the young team had only itself to blame after squandering a 15-point, second-half lead and then proceeding to stumble its way through overtime against St. John's before falling, 59-56, at Madison Square Garden.
In many ways, the game was a microcosm of the season -- maddeningly uneven, hard on the nerves, marked by strong defensive play in stretches but undermined by costly mistakes when it mattered most.
With the loss, Georgetown falls to 6-11 in Big East play. And even a victory in Saturday's regular season finale against DePaul won't be enough to sufficiently mask the ugly statistic in the eyes of the NCAA basketball tournament's selection committee....
While Thompson clearly is at a loss for a solution, he defended his players' effort and intensity in Tuesday's game, despite the fact that Georgetown managed just two field goals in the final 15 minutes.
Washington Times: In the end, Hoyas just fade away
Still without consecutive victories in nearly two months, the Hoyas return home to close out the regular season Saturday against DePaul on a senior day likely to feel more like a wake for a team coming off three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament.
The problem was a sluggish Georgetown offense that failed to crush the Red Storm when they were down. The Hoyas were without the services of sophomore guard Austin Freeman, who suffered a hip pointer in Monday's practice and did not play. But that's probably no excuse for the squad's lack of killer instinct with its entire postseason hopes stacked on the line.