This is what St. John’s and its fanbase needed.
With Steve Lavin still gathering energy to return to the sideline and the ups and downs of the recruiting game taking their course, victories like this help to retain the energy upon which St. John’s rode into the 2011-12 season.
Behind 18 points from freshman D’Angelo Harrison and another double-double, including a game-winning putback as time expired, from freshman Moe Harkless, St. John’s took down the Cincinnati Bearcats, 57-55, on Saturday afternoon, at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati.
At points, it wasn’t pretty (consider 22 offensive rebounds for the Bearcats and 19 Red Storm turnovers), but St. John’s did enough on the road to get the win and improve to 8-7 on the year and 2-2 in the Big East.
JohnnyJungle.com takes a look at the key points in St. John’s second win of the Big East season.
Transition Game Is Comfortable
Against teams like Kentucky and Connecticut, St. John’s tried to use the half-court set to burn clock and avoid foul trouble. In that attack, the Red Storm had difficulty creating shots with a short shot clock and had stretches where their offense stalled.
Today against Cincinnati, Harrison, Pointer, Harkless, and Greene all led the break at different times, allowing the Red Storm athletes to work in what head coach Steve Lavin has called the “scattered court.” By converting in transition, there was more confidence when forced into the half-court set.
D’Angelo Harrison: “The New D-Buckets”
Last year, Dwight Hardy was the engine that drove the Red Storm. This season, that responsibility has fallen to Harrison, who is the volume scorer that St. John’s looks to anchor their scoring attack.
Harrison had 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting, but hit 3-of-8 from distance and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. Also, on the Red Storm’s final possession, his dribble-drive into the lane freed Moe Harkless up for his game-winning putback.
Turnovers and Offensive Rebounding Still and Issue
The Red Storm turned the ball over 19 times on Saturday afternoon, and that, in part, can be blamed on the increase in tempo, but it should still be an area of concern.
On the other hand, Cincinnati only turned the ball over six times. The Bearcats biggest problem was their shooting percentage, going just 20-of-76 from the floor. This allowed them to grab 22 offensive rebounds.
The Red Storm take on No. 20 Marquette on Wednesday night, another tough road matchup.
This game is a confidence-builder for Amir Garrett, who had an efficient and passionate 8 points, on 3-of-4 shooting. As he continues to settle into the offense and the college game slows for him, the Red Storm will add another strong piece off the bench.
St. John’s ability to grind it out on the road, having been down at halftime, helps to prove to themselves that they can hang in the Big East.
The reality is this, and it has been echoed the entire season: there will be growing pains. With a team so young and lacking depth on the bench, by virtue of circumstance, losses will happen. But victories like this, a mild upset on the road against Cincinnati, builds confidence, moving forward, and continues to build a solid foundation for the rest of the season and into the future.