The Men's team continued their ascent in the national rankings this week, as they moved up to number 17 in the nation and picked up two more victories to move their record on the young season to 10-1.
They first used an impressive second half comeback to upend St. Mary's in a cliche "gritty game" on Friday night, 53-47, before pulling away in the second half on Monday night against Long Beach State and winning 66-49.
The Red Storm's high scorer over the past two games was D'Angelo Harrison, who led the team with 21 points in Friday's comeback win over St. Mary's. However the senior guard would go on to score a season-low 9 points on just 8 shots on Monday night after picking up some early fouls.
But on Monday it would be Harrison's teammates who made up for his low-scoring performance, predominantly Chris Obekpa with a season-high 16 points. Obekpa added 8 rebounds and 6 blocks to a dominant performance over Long Beach State.
And the man who has been known as the St. John's version of Costco, Sir'Dominic Pointer, did just about all that he could to live up to that nickname this week.
Pointer scored 11 points, added 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal as he was an instrumental part in dominant second half effort for the Red Storm in the St. Mary's victory, and then followed that up with an 11-point, 7-assist, 7-rebound performance on Monday.
Pointer is averaging around 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks per game so far this season, giving the Red Storm "a little bit of everything," in the words of Steve Lavin.
The Week Ahead
With the two wins over west coast opponents this week, the Red Storm are now at number 17 in the AP Poll and number 19 in the Coaches. Their 10-1 record is their best start to a season since 1990-91, when they made it all the way to a Regional Final in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Duke.
They'll have some time to rest up during the Christmas holiday before taking on Tulane at the Barclays Center on Sunday afternoon to close out conference play. Big East play begins a week from today when the Red Storm take on Seton Hall on New Year's Eve.
The St. John's Women's Basketball team dropped out of the top 25 this week after they suffered their first loss of the season on Sunday at the hands of Indiana State. After a tough 56-49 win over Auburn on Saturday in the semifinals of the "St. John's Chartwells Holiday Classic," the Red Storm fell in double overtime 73-67 in the tournament's finals against Indiana State.
The narrative for this young season so far has been the dominance of both Danaejah Grant and Aliyyah Handford for the Red Storm, and that narrative once again played out over the past two games.
The two teamed up to score 41 of the team's 56 points in the win over Auburn (Handford had 22 while Grant scored 19), and in the loss to Indiana State, Handford put up 27 while Grant had 18. Senior forward Amber Thompson has also been playing at a high level recently, as she grabbed a combined 18 rebounds in the two games for the Red Storm this weekend.
As stated earlier, St. John's did drop out of the top 25 in the Coaches Poll after their loss. The Red Storm weren't able to garner any votes in this week's polls released on Monday despite their 10-1 record on the young season.
The Week Ahead
The only game this upcoming week for the Red Storm will be at Providence next Tuesday to officially kick off conference play (St. John's did defeat Xavier earlier in the month at home).
After conference games against Providence and Seton Hall on January 2nd, St. John's will get the gargantuan task of taking on Connecticut on January 4th in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden.
More Weekly Awards
D'Angelo Harrison was unable to take home his third straight Big East Player of the Week on Monday, but he was named to the Big East Honor Roll for the past week. Meanwhile, on top of being named the Big East Women's Player of the Week on Monday, Aliyyah Handford was also named the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA) Co-Player of the Week yesterday after averaging nearly 25 points per game in the Red Storm's past two.
And one final note on the women's team, head coach Joe Tartamella received a contract extension through the 2019-20 season on Monday. Tartamella has led his team to its best start in 10 years and has yet to miss a postseason in his first two seasons at the helm.
Tweet of the Week
This is such a veteran team. They never panicked even when down by 15. Going to be hard to beat these Johnnies. #sjubb
— LAVINWOOD (@LAVINWOOD) December 20, 2014