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Three takeaways: a lost night in the capital for St. John’s

Defending nowhere, poor shooting and rebounding pop up as thematic issues for the Red Storm

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Not unlike many times in the last 20 years where the Red Storm have traveled down to Washington to face Georgetown, the Johnnies took a cringe-worthy, rough-looking defeat by the score of 87-66 at the hands of Georgetown.

The Hoyas had been uncompetitive in their last Big East game. They came away from the game having had a 29-point first-half lead, with Terrell Allen enjoying a season-high 16 points, Jamorko Pickett enjoying a career-high in rebounds, and with Georgetown having run St. John’s out of the gym with the seven rotation players in Hoya white and blue.

The Red Storm saw a trio of starters begin the second half on the bench — Josh Roberts, Julian Champagnie and Mustapha Heron — Champagnie and Roberts played nine and 11 minutes, respectively, last night.

Benched or not, the team still struggled. On the evening, St. John’s got offensive punch from starter LJ Figueroa (23 points), bench player Rasheem Dunn and Marcellus Earlington, and mostly scoring crickets from everyone else.

Greg Williams, Jr. is recovering from a concussion.

Damien Sears has quietly given solid minutes inside, with good energy and some fight for rebounds.

But other than that, it was the kind of game that will make this team go back to some fundamentals. After all, this team did beat West Virginia, Arizona and UMass. There is talent here, even if at a number of positions, the team lacks shooting.

This is who the team is. That doesn’t mean wins won’t come, but it does mean that without top-level execution, there will be more long nights ahead.

What happened/ takeaways

Yes, the Red Storm cannot shoot.

This is a problem with little end in sight. Mustapha Heron struggled in his second game back from injury. LJ Figueroa’s scoring inside the arc hasn’t clicked. All the other shooters connect on 30% or less of their threes.

The scoring inside the arc was limited mostly to drives into the paint, as the Johnnies struggled to get touches in the post. The Red Storm shot 16/29 — a decent 55% — on those shots, but 2/14 (14%) on twos away from the rim, and 6/25 (24%) on threes.

Which is pretty bad.

Impatience? Lack of threats? Hoya defense? Yes, all three were factors, making the Johnnies a bit predictable on the offensive end.

But the turnovers... The 10 first-half turnovers came in a wide variety of flavors, but most came in the stretch where the game was lost — eight turnovers in the stretch between when the game was tied and when Georgetown had a 25-9 lead. Runouts became mistakes, the ballhandling was filled with folly, and nothing came east for St. John’s on offense.

Those turnovers are uncharacteristic; the Red Storm are a top-30 team in not turning the ball over. There’s a positive — that should be near rock bottom in terms of turnovers.

No-man’s land defending.

Not keeping players like McClung out of the paint, feinting toward the post, being a step slow, good Georgetown ball movement equaled open shots. Top of the key, corner, wherever, the Hoyas got good outside looks in the first half with a Red Storm player trying to scramble back to bother the shot. The Johnnies rarely sped up or disrupted the Hoyas, and Georgetown took calm, composed threes last night.

Something to keep an eye on. Does the style of defense promote open threes (somewhat likely) or was St. John’s pressing and/ or a little slow on defense?

That rebounding...

Obscured by the shooting woes, the Red Storm have also been unable to keep opponents off the glass, giving up second chance opportunities on 33% or more of their opponents’ shots in the three Big East games.

When a team doesn’t end possessions, they limit the number of chances they have to score, and put players in situations where they commit fouls.

DePaul, a very good offensive rebounding team that loves to play fast, is coming next on Saturday. Rasheem Dunn was the leading rebounder against Georgetown (nine rebounds, even defensive); that will not be a formula for success against the Blue Demons.