St. John's won their fist game of the Big East schedule last night against Providence. The Johnnies ball movement was excellent and more importantly they were making open shots, going 9 of 17 from beyond the arc while Providence only shot 7-20 from long range. The Friars only shot 39 percent from the field compared to a near 51 percent clip for St. John's. It's hard to say who was the best player on the floor for St. John's because pretty much all of their starters were fantastic, with four of them scoring seventeen points or more. Kris Dunn was the MVP for Providence with 17 points and 10 assists, and was three rebounds shy of a triple double.
This is what we learned from this matchup.
1. St. John's is a completely different team when Rysheed Jordan is playing well
Rysheed Jordan had to take a leave from St. John's for family matters, and without his usual presence in the lineup, the Johnnies have not won a game in conference play. It seems Rysheed is back on track, dropping 17 points against a very talented Providence team. When he's on his game, St. John's is one of the better teams in the nation. It is not a coincidence that when Rysheed was playing well, St. John's was ranked as one of the top 15 teams in College Basketball.
2. Two players cannot carry an entire team
LaDonate Henton and Kris Dunn are without a doubt the two best players on the Frairs. They both had good games, combining for almost 40 points, but Tyler Harris should have a bigger role on the team. He's one of the best players on the team and played a big role in their Big East Championship, and has earned a look at a starting role. I have said this before, but Tyler Harris has the ability to average 15 points per game, but Ed Cooley is limiting his role by making him come of the bench. Providence could also use more production out of their freshmen. Ben Bentil is a good freshman starter, but is not as polished as Harris. Dunn and Henton would have a lot less pressure to score if Tyler Harris is getting twelve shots a game. Two players can not win a game for a team, and Harris' scoring ability is underutilized and needs to be a bigger part of the Frair offense.
3. St. John's can make a run back to the Top 25.
St. John's shot the lights out against the Friars, and a good road win can certainly give a team a lot of confidence. The Red Storm have winnable games on the horizon: on the road at DePaul, followed by a home game against Marquette. Then they face their toughest opponent of the year against the Duke Blue Devils. Considering they have losses at home to Miami, who lost to Providence by double digits, and at N.C State, D'Angelo Harris and Chris Obekpa can be a nightmare for the Blue Devils. St. John's is not out of anything yet, and if they re-enter the Top 25 with Rysheed Jordan in the lineup, I wouldn't be surprised.
For more info on this game from a St. John's perspective, check out SB Nation's Red Storm blog, Rumble in the Garden.