A different approach by the Red Storm helps them walk away with a win over Fordham, 83-69.
Much has been made about how weak the St. John’s out of conference schedule is. St. John’s is one of eight teams in a power conference neither playing at least four nonconference games against other power conference teams nor playing in a preseason tournament.
However, as evidenced by the games against both Kansas and Indiana, St. John’s likely needs to experiment with a few things in order to find which levers to pull and buttons to press to make this the best team it can be. Games against inferior opponents like Fordham give St. John’s that opportunity to experiment in live game situations without racking up losses in the process.
Potentially in response to some questionable rotations and substitution in the previous two games (NJIT and Kansas), Mike Anderson shook up the starting lineup by inserting Esahia Nyiwe and Dylan Addae-Wusu for Joel Soriano and Stef Smith.
The first half against Fordham also appears to recommitment to the press. Against Kansas, Bill Self briefly touched on how infrequently the Red Storm pressed against his Jayhawks. Against the Rams, St. John’s more consistently contested inbound passes and truly pressed, as opposed to the token pressure they applied against Kansas.
Finally, prior to halftime, Posh Alexander was moved around on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Posh spent a considerable amount of time off the ball. For a majority of the half, Addae-Wusu and Smith handled the primary ball handling duties while Posh was active away from the ball. Defensively, Addae-Wusu was also defending the Fordham ballhandler after the inbound pass, a task Alexander usually had handled prior to tonight.
Both Alexander and Addae-Wusu appeared to have success in their altered roles. Addae-Wusu had 5 assists in the primary ballhandler role and 4 steals spearheading the press, while Posh lead the team in first-half scoring with 11 points (5/9 FG, 0/2 3PT) and picked up a pair of steals of his own.
With all the St. John’s adjustments, the Red Storm went into the half up 46-33.
In the second half, focused in on stopping Darius Quisenberry, who had given the Red Storm fits in the first half with 16 points (5/9 FG, 3/5 3PT). Despite effectively plugging that hole in the second half, another leak sprung with Chuba Ohams who finished the half with 18 points (4/4 FG, 1/1 3PT). While the halftime adjustment was commendable, the in-half adjustments were not enough to slow either Quisenberry or Ohams down when they were rolling.
Finally, over the entirety of the Fordham game, nobody off the St. John’s bench played more than 8 minutes. In fact, St. John’s bench played a combined 8 minutes in the second half. Despite more bona fide pressing from the Red Storm, the Johnnies did not utilize the typical bench minutes to supplement the exertion typically required in Mike Anderson’s 40-Minutes-of-Hell style of play.
The fatigue from the disproportionate distribution of minutes may have been the leading factor contributing to St. John’s inability to grow its 13-point halftime lead.
Despite the extended starters’ minutes, the Red Storm were able to maintain their lead and add another win to the win column, 83-69.
St. John’s Red Storm
Posh Alexander: 23 Points (11/16 FG, 0/3 3PT), 4 Rebounds, 5 Assists
Montez Mathis: 16 Points (6/10 FG, 1/2 3PT), 4 Rebounds, 1 Assist
Dylan Addae-Wusu: 11 Points (4/7 FG, 2/4 3PT), 4 Rebounds, 11 Assists
Chuba Ohams: 20 Points (5/7 FG, 1/1 3PT), 6 Rebounds, 1 Assist
Darius Quisenberry: 16 Points (5/15 FG, 3/8 3PT), 7 Rebounds, 3 Assists