St. John’s fell 84-79 to a strong Xavier team, all while the fans got to enjoy a pair of coaches wearing microphones, the sound of the coach’s patter, and views into the huddles.
The game on the floor certainly left a lot of chances to be critical of either the coaching or the effort — or both. Either way, St. John’s falls to 1-2 in the Big East, and 11-3 overall. Xavier have won 7-0 and move to 3-0 in the Big East.
The Red Storm started out productively, despite missing Rafael Pinzon to illness. The game started as expected; Xavier’s twin bigs gave the Johnnies trouble, seven-footer Jack Nunge looked hard to stop, and it took a couple of steals for St. John’s to get the lead.
The Red Storm enjoyed that lead for 18 seconds before the Musketeers embarked on a 16-0 run.
What to say about a 16-0 run? Bad individual offensive habits reared their heads, with players trying to go one-on-five against a set Xavier defense that likes to play fast and knew just what was coming from the Red Storm. On defense, Xavier kept their bodies moving while the Red Storm tried to break them off the dribble.
Despite some nice little stints, the Red Storm’s problems were laid bare. The margin for error is thin with a team that is not great at creating or making threes. This team does not score enough to offset uncharacteristic turnovers. And it does not help when the other team cleans the boards, gets offensive rebounds, and keeps Joel Soriano from getting many touches.
The Musketeers kicked off the second half with a 6-0 run and led by as many as 18. But an 11-0 run, where Xavier simply got sped up and could not handle the Red Storm ball pressure, brought St. John’s within six.
It was not enough. Watching a team come back is exciting, especially when it comes with the kind of end-to-end energy St. John’s can provide. But the Red Storm could not generate enough chaos early, spotting the visitors from Cincinnati a giant lead.
Yes, the All-Access production highlighted a difference in coaching styles. But so much of coaching is about preparation before the game, and the energy and execution of the team during the game.
During the game, the Johnnies looked offensively disjointed, especially at the guard positions. Without outside shooters, the Xavier defense could expect the guards to drive, giving less space to the likes of David Jones (who shaved his hair) and to Posh Alexander and Andre Curbelo. And the communication defensively struggled to locate the Musketeers near the basket.
Next up is a New Year’s Eve trip across the Hudson to visit local rivals Seton Hall, who are also struggling. The Red Storm will want to find a way to pull that game out and get back to even in the Big East, where easy evenings look to be few and far between.
St. John’s was led by 19 points from David Jones, with 10 total rebounds (three offensive). The team also got 14 apiece from Joel Soriano (with eight rebounds, three offensive; he added three blocks) and 14 against Montez Mathis. Posh Alexander added 11. Andre Curbelo had seven assists.
Jack Nunge scored 23 and added 11 total rebounds. Souley Boum added 17, playing all 40 minutes; and Zach Freemantle scored 14, with nine rebounds.