When 6'4" guard Rysheed Jordan committed to St. John's in April, he looked to be the last piece of the puzzle to get them dancing in March. At the Red Storm's tip-off event in October he was welcomed with probably one of the loudest ovations out of everyone on the team. Since then, it has been an up and down roller coaster ride.
The frosh from Philadelphia got starter minutes from fourth-year head coach Steve Lavin but found himself on the bench in the second halves leaving critical minutes for the other members of the crowded backcourt.
Everything that made him such a great player in high school just wasn't translating into success in the college game. He struggled to finish strong at the rim and his decision making was lackluster at best. He simply didn't look like a Top 25 impact recruit.
His first month in college basketball only got worse when he got suspended right before Thanksgiving. He was suspended for the game against Monmouth for a "violation of team rules."
He returned against Longwood, coming off the bench. After the suspension was complete Lavin praised Jordan for his maturity with the suspension and stated how important he is. "He will be central to everything we do," Lavin stated, but Jordan's progress was slow. He played six minutes against Penn State and looked to be feeling his way against Georgia Tech.
But Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the number two team in the nation Syracuse, Jordan showed his maturity on the court in what looks like his big coming-out party.
Down double digits at halftime, Jordan was one of the biggest pieces to the comeback against the Orange.
Jordan's defense on Syracuse's crafty star guard Tyler Ennis - also a top-25 freshman point guard - allowed the Red Storm to cut into the lead and get the fast break attack going.
With Jakarr Sampson on the bench with foul trouble Jordan drew fouls and connected on seven free throws in a row - including three to tie the game. Throughout the half St. John's offense failed to get to in to the paint to penetrate against the famous Syracuse 2-3 zone, but Jordan was the difference-maker, a one-man offensive assault against the cracks in the zone. Moreover, he was a floor general, bringing up the ball and taking command of the Johnnies offense.
Although the offense faltered late Jordan and Johnnies pushed the Orange to the edge and almost got the win. This game was a big step for St. John's and Jordan as they work to improve going into conference play.
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