St. John’s officially opened their 2021-2022 slate of games strong by running away with a buy game against the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, 117-57. Yes, MVSU is not very good, and all of the takeaways come with a grain of salt.
Still, this was an impressive opener for a team that is still getting to know one another on the court.
Nearly two weeks after running away in an exhibition against Baruch College, there were three things the Red Storm needed to demonstrate coming into tonight:
- that the turnovers are cleaned up — had 18 against Baruch;
- that Julian Champagnie and Dylan Addae-Wusu is healthy and how he affects the rotation — Champagnie is recovering from a wrist injury and Addae-Wusu missed the Baruch game recovering from ankle surgery; and
- that St. John’s could withstand a team with any size — Mississippi Valley has four guys 6’8” and taller.
For context, St. John’s did win by 60 points, and covered a 44.5 point spread. The game was over early, with the Johnnies jumping out to a 21-5 lead early, and a 59-18 cushion by the half.
However, there are some outstanding questions going forward.
The turnovers are still high. The Red Storm turned the ball over 20 times against the Delta Devils — nearly once every four possessions. On the other hand, the Johnnies also had 30 assists.
Regarding the team’s health, Julian Champagnie is healthy enough to put up points in bunches given that he finished the game with 20 points. For what it’s worth, there is likely still some upside to look forward to because Champagnie was the only main-rotation Johnnie with a negative Net Points (Points Produced — Points Allowed) with -7.3.
Addae-Wusu looked healthy and prepared for the game. His three steals were largely a product of having a nose for the ball. Early, it looked like there was still some rust coming off. But once in rhythm, he was disrupting Mississippi Valley. Addae-Wusu’s scoring/ shooting is an area for improvement; a 47% shooter last year from deep, Addae-Wusu finished with 12 points, at one point hitting a pair of threes in a row.
Despite St. John’s offseason upgrades to the front court, Mississippi Valley had considerable success on the offensive glass. The Delta Devils pulled down 14 offensive boards as compared to the Johnnies’ 10. (St. John’s, however, only missed 20 shots in total.)
As for Johnnies to keep an eye on, Joel Soriano is an analytics darling. Soriano finished with a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds in 17 minutes. However, arguably just as important, he was a dominant big on the defensive end with a couple of blocks and height that deterred the Devils from getting inside.
All the Johnnies shined.
Montez Mathis added 11 points; Aaron Wheeler showed a versatile game, driving to the basket and getting touches in the paint; Esahia Nywie showed athletic moves and shot blocking. Rafael Pinzon had a slow start but was second on the team with five assists to go with seven points.
Stef Smith added six with four rebounds and three assists, and the Johnnies got all three walk-ons some run. Walk-on Artemios Gavalas had a layup waived off because of a foul, but made a free throw.
St. John’s Red Storm
Julian Champagnie: 20 Points (8/14 FG, 2/5 3PT), 4 Rebounds
Posh Alexander: 18 Points (6/7 FG, 4/5 3PT), 7 Assists
Tareq Coburn: 13 Points (5/5 FG, 3/5 3PT), 3 Rebounds
Joel Soriano: 11 Points (2/4 FG), 13 Rebounds
O’Mar Stanley: 12 Points (6/6 FG), 6 Rebounds, 3 Assists
Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
Caleb Hunter: 16 Points (5/12 FG, 4/9 3PT), 3 Rebounds, 2 Assists
Elijah Davis: 5 Points (2/8FG, 1/3 3PT), 5 Rebounds, 7 Assists