We are bouncing in our seats for tonight’s St. John’s game against Georgetown Hoyas - which will be a mix of a trip down memory lane, but also a desperate reach for a clump of grass along the side of the cliff to slow down the mid-season fall.
We chatted with Roey from Casual Hoya about the game; our answers to their questions are here at their Sleeping with the Enemy post. Thanks for dinner, Casual Hoya.
Q: How have the fans and students felt about the first year of the Patrick Ewing experience?
By and large, pretty good. The very easy non-conference schedule helped assuage some fears but it seems like fans have been pleasantly surprised by the way the Hoyas have actually hung in there with the likes of Butler and Syracuse.
Expectations were very low, so fans are basically looking for encouraging signs. So far, so good. Student turnout to games is pretty impressive too given the circumstances as far as I can tell.
Q: What has changed from last year? Which players have improved, and have any backslid?
It’s a new system with a much faster tempo, and not only is it fun to watch, but it’s helped a lot of guys improve. Jessie Govan averaged 10 points & 5 rebounds last season and would look gassed playing more than 25 minutes. He averages 18 and 11 in 32 minutes a night now.
Kaleb Johnson looked lost in his first two seasons and now he’s the teams third-leading scorer and averages in double figures. Marcus Derrickson is showing he can actually create offensively and improved his three-point shooting.
Returning guards Jagan Mosely and Jonathan Mulmore have made slower strides, but both are rotated into the point guard position out of necessity although they’d be better suited off the ball.
Q: At the end of the non-conference season, did Hoya fans think this team was good?
Not necessarily, but again, better than expected. This whole thing seems to have been created to make life easy for Coach Ewing and allow him to experiment. Very few fans expected much this season so signs of life are our barometer. So I doubt anyone really thought of us as an at-large NCAA tournament team, but it gave us good signs for the future.
Q: So when we watch Jahvon Blair and Jamorko Pickett, what should we expect to see?
Both of them are really streaky and turn the ball over a bunch. Blair shapes up more as a shooting guard, and while he takes a lot of attempts, he’s only 35% from the field and 31% from three.
He can be a strong third scorer behind Derrickson and Govan, as he was vs. Butler and DePaul, or he can put up a zero like he did against Marquette. Pickett just keeps turning the ball over. He also takes a lot of shots and has a very odd-looking shooting motion, but he has a very high ceiling since he’s very athletic and rangy, which helps him occasionally block shots on defense.
Q: What advice do you think Mullin gave to Ewing? And Does Ewing seem happy about his choice?
I imagine Mullin may have reassured Ewing that he was ready for the gig and that nothing beats coming home. Ewing already had the experience for the gig with his long assistant coaching career and he probably wouldn’t have left the NBA otherwise.
From the outside looking in, it seems like he still enjoys it. He gets to do the job he knows at a place he knows and he’s in the process of building something that looks like it’ll be special.
Q: So does Marcus Derrickson want to play for Patrick Ewing? Does he?
For reference: this is Patrick Ewing approaching Derrickson in a timeout, saying “what’s wrong with you? Do you want to play for me? Do you?”
Well Derrickson promptly went and moved heaven and earth to help the Hoyas beat DePaul. His final stat line for that game: 24 points, 7 rebounds, 10-10 from the free-throw line, and 0 step-back one-legged shots (or at least, 0 after Coach gave him one hell of a chewing out!)