St. John’s re-adopts its 40-Minutes-of-Hell approach and embarrasses Seton Hall on their campus, 84-63.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2013 book David and Goliath, he discussed Rick Pitino’s Louisville press and coaching strategy. Regarding what kind of teams can run the press, Gladwell wrote, “[Y]ou have to be desperate. You have to be so bad that you have no choice.”
Tonight was the first time this season that St. John’s has looked desperate. Perhaps then, it is no coincidence that this was also the first game where the Johnnies lived up to their preseason pedigree.
After five straight games of scoring in the double digits, Aaron Wheeler was inserted into the starting lineup for Posh Alexander. Wheeler continued his stretch of solid-or-better play by being a versatile defender and settling into the of stretch-4 on offense.
After playing a total of 22 minutes in conference play, Tareq Coburn received some legitimate run early in the game. Coburn added some much needed perimeter scoring, as Julian Champagnie has been forced away from good three-point attempts by opposing defenders over the past week.
Both the players’ and the coaches’ recommitment to the press paid instant dividends against Seton Hall. The Johnnies lead by as many as 21 in the first half, and for the first time in what seems like forever, the team was fun to watch.
Of course, Seton Hall did not roll over. They rarely do. Toward the end of the first half after the Red Storm led by 21, Seton Hall answered with a 10-0 run to prevent getting laughed out of their campus gym. St. John’s got a little slopping with the pace, resulting in the Johnnies losing the first half turnover battle, 9 to 7. The Pirates fought back to make it a 10-point game going into the half, 46-36.
The second half was largely a 10-point game for the first seven minutes or so. St. John’s began pulling away again on the back of a pair of separate 8-0 runs, which helped the team acquire a lead as large as 27 points with under six minutes to go.
The offensive success St. John’s had during the contest was unconventional given that it was without the typical contributions of Julian Champagnie. Champagnie scored only 5 points (2/10 FG, 1/5 3PT) despite averaging over 20 points per game coming into this contest. However, to Champagnie’s credit, his contributions elsewhere were impressive as the junior grabbed 8 rebounds, dished of 5 assists, and rejected 4 shots on defense.
What was encouraging from the Johnnies, aside from the score, was how much fresher they looked down the stretch compared to Seton Hall. One can imagine a scenario where St. John’s plays this fast and the game is still close. In such an event, it appears that 30 or more minutes of body-blows at that pace can give St. John’s an overwhelming advantage in close games late.
Despite the route, the end of St. John’s bench did not make an appearance as the Johnnies rout Seton Hall, 84-63.
St. John’s Red Storm
Posh Alexander: 19 Points (7/12 FG, 0/1 3PT), 7 Rebounds, 5 Assists
Aaron Wheeler: 17 Points - Career High (6/12 FG, 3/7 3PT), 10 Rebounds, 3 Assists
Montez Mathis: 10 Points (3/8 FG, 2/3 3PT), 2 Rebounds, 1 Assist
Seton Hall Pirates
Myles Cale: 16 Points (5/10 FG, 1/3 3PT), 4 Rebounds, 3 Assists
Jared Rhoden: 12 Points (4/17 FG, 1/6 3PT), 12 Rebounds, 2 Assists