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Game 15: Syracuse Orange dumps the St. John's Red Storm 76-59

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I. Recap | II. Not How to Finish a Game | III. Keys of the Game Recap | IV. News coverage


I. Recap



St. John's did not take the Garden back last night. Syracuse ran away from the Johnnies, 76-59.

Behind an excellent defensive performance by the Orange, where their length and quick hands forced St. John's into turnovers and bad shots, Syracuse (17-0, 4-0 in the BE) beats St. John's (10-5, 3-2 BE) in the Madison Square Garden 76-59. Kris Joseph led the team with 18 points, but Brandon Triche's 15 points on 3-6 3 point shooting (and 3-5 inside the arc) provided the knife and the twist to the Red Storm's Garden upset plans.

Syracuse dominated the Red Storm from about the 9.00 minute mark in the first half onward.  And from the sounds of it, the Orange, once again, dominated the crowd at Madison Square Garden.

Early in the game, the Red Storm moved the basketball well; Justin Burrell was playing like a man in the post. But the Orange's quick hands and impressive length (that's what she said) really turned the Johnnies out. Burrell had 5 turnovers, trying to make plays in the post. Malik Boothe has his only field goal attempt blocked, from the perimeter; Dwight Hardy shot 4-16, unable to score inside. 

Justin Brownlee led the team with 13 points, Hardy had 12, Dele Coker got 2 points on free throws and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes. D.J. Kennedy had 4 points, 5 steals, and 5 assists, playing solidly in the pressure defense. Point guard Malik Stith even got 9 minutes, Sean Evans 1.

More disturbing than the final score, was the effort in the garbage time minutes of the second half...

Read more after the jump.

II. Not How to Finish a Game

This is not last year.

While I understand that the game was pretty much done, and that it is hard to maintain the same intensity in a blowout as it is in a tight game... becoming defensively lax is not okay. It is never okay.  It breeds bad habits. It creates a thread to the earlier losing seasons where players cared enough to do what they thought was playing hard but was playing ineffectively.

Syracuse has played well this year - though their offensive woes should be worrisome for Orange fans. The fact that they won, or even that they blew out the Johnnies shouldn't be completely shocking.  And the defensive miscues only happened a few times. But they were surprising for a team that seems to be learning the true lessons of playing hard - how to concentrate and maintain intensity for a whole game.

For the last 30 minutes, St. John's played a bad basketball game. And for much of the last 20 minutes, the Red Storm played an undisciplined, bad game.

They have played worse. But this game - the first time St. John's has been blown out all year - was the first contest where the Johnnies didn't contest for the whole 40 minutes. 

When media folks talk about St. John's inability to finish out close games last year, they are wrong. Flat out wrong.  The problem is that St. John's would let games get away from them in the middle of games. The denouement would happen in waning minutes of the first half, when the legs start tiring and coaches start making effective adjustments. Or in the beginning of the second half. 

Whenever it is, it's a bad habit, those lulls and swoons that were such a big part of last year's losing.  Those lulls came from defensive lapses, quick shots, anxious players. Steve Lavin has been good in getting guys to play smarter basketball. He needs to remind the players that there is no reason to give up on the season, that they need to play hard at all times, and that even in a blowout, the players have to maintain good habits.

III. Keys of the Game recap

Pregame notes with keys to the game

Control the Pace. The first ten minutes were slow, controlled, and a little ugly - just like St. John's needed it to be. But the other 30 minutes were a ragtag collection of missed shots against Syracuse defensive pressure, turnovers, and defensive lapses. Little control here. F

Slow Down Transition Scoring. Syracuse had 12 fast break points, and had the Johnnies on their heels for much of the second half. C-

Movement.  On offense, the game got a little ragged late. The team tried to keep the ball moving, but the Red Storm found the passing into the paint to be difficult - in part because players were standing and waiting for a pass. D

Offensive Rebounding. St. John's needed more chances at the basket than they generated; Syracuse rebounded a healthy 70% of St. John's ample misses. C

Turnovers. The Red Storm turned the ball over on almost 23% of their possessions. The Orange had turnovers on 28% of their possessions, but the Orange could afford some wasted possessions - they scored well for a good portion of the game.

IV. News coverage

Red Storm Sports recap

SB Nation Coverage

Syracuse invades Madison Square Garden, outclasses St. John's 76-59 in Big East New York battle - NY Daily News
"They have depth, size and length that they can continue to bring - it's a lot of lumber up front," Lavin said. "They kind of in a gradual way dismantle a team. It's kind of sneaky the way they do it. It's different than last year's Syracuse team (that) . . . just blitzkrieged you from the start. "This Syracuse team . . . you feel like you're playing pretty well and you're down 10. You have a stretch where you don't play well and you're down 20."

Orange rout makes jilted Johnnies see red - NY Post
For the first eight minutes, it seemed as if St. John's were going to rekindle the rivalry, as the Red Storm opened a 17-9 lead. And then Syracuse, which came out in T-shirts reading, "New York's College Team" on the front and "Unfinished Business" on the back, closed the first half on a 26-7 run.

"It just so happened coincidentally that we were playing St. John's at the Garden and we had those shirts," Syracuse forward Kris Joseph said coyly. "I don't know how it came about, but those were the shirts we wore today. It's still Unfinished Business, but kind of just changed the front a little bit."

Rapid Reaction: Syracuse 76, St. John's 59 - Colleges Blog - ESPN NY
After a slow start, Syracuse torched St. John's, shooting 57.4 percent from the field, and connecting on 9 of 20 3-point attempts. The Orange made 17 of 27 shots in the second half (63 percent). It was a balanced attack: Four players scored in double figures, led by Kris Joseph with 18 and Brandon Triche with 15.

Red Storm No Match for Unbeaten Orange - Wall Street Journal
St. John's faced a Syracuse squad that is off to the second- best start in program history. The Red Storm was coming off one of its worst losses this year against Notre Dame, when they shot 38.2% from the field. Against Syracuse, St. John's was even worse, shooting 36.8%, including 2 for 12 from 3-point range and 0 for 6 on 3-pointers in the second half.

Syracuse seized a 19-17 lead on an emphatic dunk by Brandon Triche with just over six minutes left in the first half, and would not relinquish their advantage again, spinning their lead out past 20 points in the second half.

It’s Not St. John’s Night in Two Losses at Garden - NY Times
For the St. John’s men, what could have been an opportunity to seize attention turned into a humbling display. Syracuse led by as many as 22 points in the second half.

Coach Steve Lavin said he did not speak sternly to his players afterward, saying they had been beaten down enough by Syracuse. 

Syracuse Too Strong for St. John’s - Epoch Times
In the battle for the Empire State, Syracuse showed St. John's why they’re still the king after a convincing 76-59 victory.

Syracuse tops St. John's to stay unbeaten -
St. John's needs to get going by Sunday, or the losing streak will continue. "I'm hoping by Sunday when we play Notre Dame we're at a point where we can give 40 minutes of good effort and execution and enhance our chances of winning an important ball game on our home court," Lavin said. "But you really don't know until you go through a full season, a full year in the Big East, with this particular team."

St. John's needs to rebound from latest humbling loss to Syracuse - ESPN NY

What's concerning is that, outside of the first 11 minutes against Syracuse, St. John's looked severely outclassed in both games. Neither game was even as close as the final score indicated.

This loss was even more disappointing because it came at home, in front of the biggest crowd of the season.There were 14,440 fans in the house Wednesday night, and even though roughly half of them were wearing orange, the crowd was rocking for the Johnnies in those early minutes. "The atmosphere was great. When we came out, I heard a lot of our fans cheering for us," St. John's forward Justin Burrell said. "I hope they stick with us. 

No. 4 Syracuse tops St. John's to stay unbeaten - AP via NBC Sports
Syracuse closed the first half on a 10-0 run for a 35-24 lead. The Orange had that lead doubled within the opening 11 minutes of the second half. They did it by forcing St. John's into taking some ill-advised shots and turning the ball over. The Red Storm had 16 turnovers in all.... "We missed a lot of shots due to their pressure," St. John's forward Justin Burrell said. "They have a way to frustrate you and we're supposed to play through that."

Syracuse - St. John's Postgame Reactions OR NY's Real College Team - Orange:44
The second half was all Syracuse, to which St. John's managed to get the lead down to nine before Syracuse truly opened the game up and earned their biggest lead of the game at 22 points. Syracuse and St. John's continued to trade blows, but Syracuse finished on top in a definitive victory.

Syracuse 76 - St. John's 59: Kings Of New York Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician