St. John’s may have fallen short to No. 24 Xavier on Sunday, but there were still some encouraging signs for the Red Storm in that game.
There are no moral victories in sports and St. John’s did lose on Sunday to No. 24 ranked Xavier Musketeers 82-77.
So a loss is a loss, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find any positives to the game that could perhaps propel the team in future games. There were indeed some positives from the Red Storm in that game other than the fact that they kept it close through the end vs. a ranked Big East opponent.
A New Offensive Presence?
No, it’s not Kassoum Yakwe. No, it’s not Tariq Owens even though he did score seven points and was pretty active inside.
It could be Darien Williams who was four for four from the field, scoring on layups assisted by the guards and even on hook shots as well. He was big in St. John’s nearly coming back in the second half.
Williams has had limited time on the court, but when he plays, he’s shown some ability to score in past games when he gets the ball inside. St. John’s should develop him more so he can create more attention inside and take some of the pressure off of their stellar guards.
Guards Didn’t Need The Three
The perimeter game has been the Red Storm’s biggest arsenal this season. It wasn’t the case on Sunday though.
Shamorie Ponds and Marcus Lovett were a combined one for nine on three-point attempts, and Malik Ellison was 0 for 3 from downtown.
Yet Ponds and Lovett still managed to score 34 points, and Ellison chipped in with seven because they were aggressive driving to the lane and attacking the basket. That resulted in a lot of layups and Xavier fouls too.
So even though their perimeter game is not on, St. John’s guards has shown that they can score in other ways which will make them even harder to stop.
Showing Grit And Determination
St. John’s courage and determination were significant in them nearly coming back from a double-digit deficit in the second half. They never led throughout the game, they continue to be badly outrebounded, their three point shooting was not on, and they missed some crucial free throw down the stretch. St. John’s nearly cut their deficit to two late in the game and lost by only five.
Their energy was big on the defensive end down the stretch, forcing turnovers and a few large blocks by Tariq Owens.
Even though they fell short, it was great to see St. John’s show a lot of fight at the end and making Xavier sweat it out.
St. John’s will continue to have rebounding issues and will at times shown their lack of depth and experience. If they, however, continue to play hard, if Williams continues to develop inside and if the guards continue to be aggressive both outside and inside, St. John’s will be even tougher to beat and will win some more games before the season ends.