After a few tough early minutes, St. John’s kicked the defense and offense into high gear, earning a 94-59 exhibition win in their last tune-up before the regular season.
Stats were not available immediately after the game remotely, but LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron shined offensively with 28 and 25 respectively.
The Johnnies started Julian Champagnie, Nick Rutherford, Mustapha Heron, Josh Roberts, and LJ Figueroa. With a limited roster, the Johnnies dug into their bench, including playing walk-on senior Thomas O’Connell, and, late walk-on Justin Cole.
Queens College started out hot, leading for the first 4-6 minutes, and came within 12 in the second half. The team was inefficient, perhaps taking perimeter shots too quickly, and Heron in particular was not in rhythm early. (He also fell and went to the locker room late in the first half, but emerged to play in the second.)
The Queens Knights from Kew Gardens exposed some slow rotations in the Red Storm early, but fell victim to the length and activity of the Johnnies.
St. John’s rode Figueroa’s hot outside shooting to get back into rhythm. Josh Roberts was in a position to use his talents, crashing the offensive glass after sitting on the bench a stint, and even taking a pass, dribbling 2-3 times and powering down a transition dunk.
On the downside, QC also showed how the corners could be utilized against the Red Storm defense. The Johnnies’ shooting was in need of work.
But on the upside, the energy was strong.
Mike Anderson’s team showed a number of different pressures up and down the court, plus a 2-3 matchup zone. The sophomores Josh Roberts, Marcellus Earlington and Greg Williams Jr. looked decent and energetic. Transfer guard Nick Rutherford was quick with the ball and did not try to do too much.
And, when faced with zone defenses, the Johnnies moved the ball quickly.
It was a solid evening for the Johnnies, who rode out of danger in the first half and cruised most of the way. Mercer will, of course, be a tougher challenge; Division I players will be able to take advantage of the opportunities St. John’s allowed, especially early on.
Next Wednesday, the games begin for real.
What did you see at the game? What did you like and dislike from the new-look, new coach St. John’s?