It's nothing new for St. John's. Actually, throughout the last few years, what happened on Friday night has become something of routine. Sure, there are new players added to the playbill, and the marquee was placed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota this time. But there was something all too familiar in game one of the 2013-14 season for the Red Storm.
That's because, in a game airing on the Big Ten Network, the Johnnies came up short verses a nationally ranked team once again. This time around the Red Storm lost, 86 - 75. And while the game never was truly out of hand, it was never really all that close either. The Badgers jumped out to an early 11-2 lead and eventually went to the locker room up 12 at the end of the first half. A lead that proved to be more than enough of a cushion for Bo Ryan's nose-to-the-grindstone Badgers.
The Red Storm (0-1), which actually trailed by 18 points at one point, struggled mightily defending the perimeter. Wisconsin drilled 11-of-23 attempts from distance. In fact, four Badgers hit at least two three-pointers, led by Josh Gasser's 3-for-5 from three. Gasser finished with a team high 19 points for Wisconsin. For St. John's, though, anytime you're outscored 33-to-6 from deep, you're going to have a hard time clawing your way back into the game.
Sam Dekker, who poured in 16 points for the Badgers (1-0), was one of five players who scored in double-figures for the suddenly highly potent Badgers.
Making matters worse, St. John's saw only D'Angelo Harrison (27) and Jakarr Sampson (21) tally more than 10 points. The next closest Red Storm member nearest to double figures was freshman point guard Rysheed Jordan, who tallied six points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field. Everyone else couldn't hit the broad side of George Washington's massive face on Mount Rushmore. Which is a major problem when facing the relentless defense of the Badgers.
The Red Storm shot a miserable 22 percent from three (2-for-9), despite shooting a modest 51 percent from just inside the arc. With the only threat coming with roughly eight minutes to play. St. John's cut the lead to 58-54, but was done in by two straight three's by the Badgers.
The loss, while certainly not unexpected, will hurt a St. John's team that was dealing with high expectations. A win over a top-25 Wisconsin team would announce to the college basketball world that the Red Storm is not only a team to be feared, but a team well on its way to long March Madness run. It's really just more of the same, mirroring winnable losses in games against the likes of Syracuse, Connecticut, and even Louisville of recent seasons. Sure, Wisconsin is a good team likely to be a top tier team in the Big Ten, but this game will likely stick in the craw for months ahead.
Yet, even after the loss, a big year is still a possibility, but a more complete team-effort will be needed. That means defending the arc and getting more players involved on the offensive end. All should get well, however, when the Red Storm look to rebound in a big way when it hosts Wagner in Queens next Friday.