The St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball squad suffered their first loss on Friday to Minnesota but there were still some encouraging signs to it.
St. John’s got off to a great start at 2-0 and winning their first two games by double-digit points.
However, they hit a little bump in the road on Friday, losing to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 92-86.
Despite the loss, there were still some bright moments to it, especially since they hung in tough vs their first Division 1 opponent.
Good start, good finish
St. John’s actually got off to a hot start, leading 22-9 to begin the game and maybe proving even more that they are for real. However, they went through a rocky stretch late in the first half and in the beginning of the second half as Minnesota stormed back and led by double digits through the middle of the second half.
St. John’s finished the game strong, though, cutting their deficit to as low as three before falling short by a respectable six points.
So yes, they fell short of the victory but considering how much St. John’s got blown out in games last year, the fact that this team didn’t give up and kept battling was a nice sign.
Defense still had some moments
The defense was up and down and it struggled mightily during the middle of the game when Minnesota went on their run. St. John’s’ transition defense was poor as Minnesota got in a lot of fast breaks and scored in transition and they also committed only five turnovers the entire game.
St. John’s, however, continued to play solid defense inside as Minnesota shot only 35% from inside the arc in the first half. The Red Storm big’s continue to deny some shots as Yankuba Sima, Tariq Owens and Kassoum Yakwe combined to block four shots.
The continual rise of the starting backcourt
The best moments of Friday’s game came from the freshmen backcourt tandem of Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds as they both continue to amaze and provide hope for the future.
The freshmen duo combined for 54 of the team’s 86 total points. They also dished out five of the team’s nine assists, had two of the four steals, and hit eight of the 11 team’s total three-pointers. Ponds hit five of nine from three.
If they both continue to thrive, this could be St. John’s best starting backcourt ever.
Bashir Ahmed had his best game so far
Another one of the St. John’s newcomers came through. Junior college transfer and Bronx native Bashir Ahmed had an up and down stretch in the first two games but on Friday, he stepped up off the bench, scoring 15 points. He is mainly known as an inside presence but he surprisingly showed some perimeter prowess as well, knocking down three of six from downtown. If he continues to hit from the perimeter, he will be even more unstoppable as a ballplayer.
Overall, while it was still a loss, considering this was St. John’s first real test and after what happened last year, it’s not as bad as it looks. This could actually make them even stronger and continue in their development, especially their rookies, who all played well.
There will be more tests and tougher opponents but this game as well as future games ahead, could definitely boost St. John’s development even more.