“The last four games have had similar themes,” said St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin, after his Red Storm improved to 5-3 in the Big East with a 71-67 win at home over Seton Hall on Sunday afternoon. “There have been stretches where we play brilliantly and stretches where teams will make runs on us. There are plenty of things we can improve upon both offensively and defensively. I’m most proud we found a way after Seton Hall went on a run. We went on a run of our own. That’s the trend that is emerging now.”
More specifically, Lavin is referring to the trend of his team facing adversity, and responding well with composed play and timely stops and baskets, which has earned them four straight wins, after starting conference play with a 1-3 record.
After a pretty back-and-forth first half, St. John’s found themselves up 16 points with about 15 minutes to go in the game. A great surge from the end of the first half through the beginning of the second half made it seem like this was going to be one of those games where St. John’s just dominates and wins big. The Pirates had different ideas.
Finding themselves only ahead one point at the under four minute media timeout, it seemed that the inexperienced, young Red Storm were about to blow another game, and once again have to figure out what steps to take to playing winning basketball.
Then, their leader stepped up.
In an up-and-down season, the one consistent thing for St. John’s has been D’Angelo Harrison getting his buckets, which he proceeded to do down the stretch on Sunday. Not only did Harrison score a game-high 24 points, but he had eight points over the last two and half minutes of the game, propelling his teammates confidence en route to another tough win.
“The most challenging aspect for any team is to sustain the same level of execution for 40 minutes,” said Lavin, who is still admittedly working on getting his team to play together and on the same page. “Our youth differentiates us from a veteran team because we are still learning lessons on the court.”
One lesson that Seton Hall learned Sunday was that if they don’t figure out a way to stop Harrison, they won’t be able to beat St. John’s. With experience comes maturity and toughness, two things this young team is not only working on, but improving by the game.
One game at a time.
For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth