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Do-it-all Soriano dominates in St. John’s blowout of Sacred Heart

Joel Soriano put up 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists in only 24 minutes of action in Wednesday night’s 85-50 win

St. John’s Red Storm Center Joel Soriano (11) dribbles the ball past Sacred Heart Pioneers Forward Alex Sobel (31) during the first half to the College Basketball game between the Sacred Heart Pioneers and the St. John’s Red Storm on December 6, 2023, at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, NY. Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The constant growth of Joel Soriano’s offensive arsenal is captivating.

Last year, he played with more poise and aggressiveness in the post to lead St. John’s in scoring. Early this season, he showcased the fruits of his offseason shooting work by becoming a sharp three-point threat. Against Sacred Heart, Soriano flashed a new dimension in his game with his playmaking. In his first seven games this season, he dished out a combined five assists. With fifteen minutes remaining in the second half against Sacred Heart, he surpassed that total in tonight’s game alone.

His feel for the game has never looked better. In one instance, Joel Soriano threw a long pass out of the post to Jordan Dingle, who glided to the basket and finished with an off-hand layup. In another, he quickly identified a double team and delivered a timely bounce pass to Chris Ledlum within the mosh pit in the paint to draw two free throws. His best dime of the night came before the second half under-16 media timeout, when he nonchalantly flung a no-look pass in the corner for Jordan Dingle to hit a three in rhythm.

Soriano even played the classics, securing his fourth double-double of the season thirty seconds into the second half and rejecting a pair of shots. In total, he racked up 18 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, another three, and 2 blocks in a leisurely 85-50 win over Sacred Heart.

It was an inauspicious start for the Red Storm, as they held a slim 3-point lead and went 4-for-11 from the field before the under-16 media timeout. Chris Ledlum missed four straight layups before a contested and-one layup broke him, and St. John’s, out of their slumps. Subsequently, Joel Soriano made a putback layup, then Daniss Jenkins and Brady Dunlap drilled back-to-back threes to push the Red Storm out to a 11-point lead.

From that run, St. John’s was able to separate from Sacred Heart and impose their will. Jordan Dingle and Daniss Jenkins chipped in 17 and 13 points, respectively. The Red Storm forced 18 turnovers and out-rebounded the Pioneers, 51 to 27. For the first time all season, they even made consistent trips to the free throw line.

What stood out from a leisurely second half was the second team unit’s ability to completely neutralize Sacred Heart’s offense, with the bench pressing and forcing the Pioneers to take shots in the dying embers of the shot clock. For a team that their own coach has publicly criticized for their defensive struggles, St. John’s is finally playing like a Rick Pitino-led team, even down to their second teamers.

Up next for St. John’s is a “neutral” site game against Boston College at the Barclays Center this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The Eagles are currently 6-3 and rated 105th in KenPom as of Wednesday night, with wins over Vanderbilt and Richmond on their résumé.