Queens, NY- Coming into this exhibition against Humboldt State we were all well aware how meaningless the results would be.
But for a St. John's team with expectations of winning the Big East and making an NCAA appearance grinding out a win against DII Humboldt State wasn't exactly comforting. While yes, we should write off 95% of what we just watched unfold this Saturday afternoon, there are a few things to take away from this matchup.
Usually after the first pre-season game we would be ranting on how no player has shown development to any degree and perhaps one or two has regressed.
Well, Chris Obekpa has shown in one pre-season game remarkable improvement from last season. He has given full credibility to Lavins media day comments that we can expect Obekpa to "average a double-double".
It is remarkable how smooth he looked shooting the basketball from the wing, while his footwork around the rim was quick and agile. He looks poised for a big year after posting 22 points, 10 rebounds and 11 blocks - including 8-for-9 from the free throw line, much better than the sub-50% free throw shooting of the past.
In the limited time he saw the court Jones looked good. He looked smooth knocking down a midrange jumper off of a pick and pop and showed his defensive ability pinning a dunk attempt to the backboard late in the game. He will need to play well with Keith Thomas now ineligible and a limited frontcourt.
Point guard/ offense problems
The team is once again in desperate need of organization on offense. Rysheed Jordan was out of control especially in the first half, and struggled the entire game to get into the paint and distribute the basketball. He forced passes, turned the ball over, and was attempting to play one on five basketball at times.
Phil Greene, dealing with a thigh issue and was non-existent, and Jamal Branch struggled like Jordan.
As a result of their point guard play, and inability to dribble drive into the teeth if the defense, St. John's struggled to get easy looks. The Red Storm shot 25% from three, which adds to the offensive struggles.
That's trend I expect will continue and we will see teams go back to a zone look making St. John's shoot the ball. The lack of size and a post game makes the Red Storms ability to space the floor and get into the paint crucial. Today's results - 21 assists and 21 turnovers.
Excellent job at the line. It doesn't matter who you are playing, no one is guards the charity stripe once a player gets there. Going with a smaller lineup and attacking the rim, the Johnnies will need to continue this effort.
The team shot 81.6% (31-36) against Humboldt with Obekpa smoothly knocking down eight of nine attempts.
St. John's allowed 20 offensive rebounds and 22 second chance points to an undersized Humboldt State team.
With respect to Humboldt, the Red Storm will not be able to overcome those mistakes against bigger more talented opponents. About half of the points allowed to Humboldt came in the paint. Allowing dribble penetration and forcing help defense is opening up the weak side for offensive boards.
St. John's love blocking shots. But while its fun to watch Obekpa send balls into the rafters, and to watch Sir`Dominic Pointer chase down opponents a-la LeBron James, perhaps that isn't the recipe for success.
Looking to the future
When will there be a Delarosa sighting? Can Jordan slow down and let the game come to him? Will Amar Alibegovic contribute? How will the lineup differ, if at all, against larger teams?
Questions or comments? As always, feedback is encouraged.