“It is nice to have seniors. It is nice to have guys who have been through the wars and respond the right way,” is probably what St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin wishes he could’ve been able to say on Wednesday night. Instead, he ended up on the other end of a 58-56 loss to Rutgers, who’s coach, Mike Rice, provided those positive words.
Lavin is experiencing about the polar opposite of Rice, as his Red Storm dropped their third of four games, each of which has gone down to the wire.
“This is the same group, the same team that made some plays down the stretch at Cincinnati to get a big win,” said a frustrated Lavin. “Then this evening against Rutgers we couldn’t get the stops or make the plays that let you win in the Big East. I thought there were some good stretches, but at the end we couldn’t make the plays to get over the hump.”
Not only did St. John’s continue their wretched shooting by converting on just over 35-percent of their attempts – they’re shooting 42 percent from the field over their last four games – but their best scorer, D’Angelo Harrison, went 3-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final four minutes of the game, showing the Red Storm’s inexperience in close games.
It’s hard to blame this loss on Harrison, who reached the 20 point plateau for the 11th time this season, but the one-two scoring punch of him and freshman JaKarr Sampson has led to some really bad offense from St. John’s. The two combined to go 11-for-31 from the field tonight, mostly getting their shots off of isolation plays after holding onto the ball for a while.
This is where it’s time to start blaming the coach. On a night where freshman Chris Obekpa tied Walter Berry’s single-season blocked shots record – yeah, already – it’s time for Lavin to make adjustments on the offensive end, because the defense is clearly carrying their weight. For the second straight game, St. John’s has held it’s opponent to below 60 points, this was the first time in five games that they’ve done so in which they lost.
The preseason is over for St. John’s, it’s time for them to either eat or be eaten in the Big East. Starting the season 1-2 isn’t overly discouraging, but the lack of offensive composure that Lavin’s group has displayed thus far sure is.
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