The St. John’s Red Storm started their 2016-17 season with authority as they took down Bethune Cookman 100-53 to grab win number one on the year.
In a collaborative effort that saw nine players from the Red Storm score at least one point, the Red Storm picked up a confidence-building victory that should only help them going forward. The newly adjusted roster for Chris Mullin played very well, as the second-year head coach experimented with a few different lineups and each were able to attain their own levels of success.
Federico Mussini would lead all St. John’s scorers with 20 points. Marcus LoVett, playing in his first official game after missing last year due to academic eligibility issues, dropped 19 in the victory with seven assists and three rebounds to boot. Highly touted freshman Shamorie Ponds scored eight in his debut to go with three assists and three boards.
The Red Storm hadn’t hit the 100-point mark since a victory last year against Chaminade out in the Maui Invitational. They hadn’t hit the 100-point mark against a D1 opponent since a 104-58 win back on December 7, 2013 against the Fordham Rams.
3 things we learned
1. The Johnnies have a new member on their block brigade: Last year, Yankuba Sima and Kassoum Yakwe (more like Block-we) were terrific shot-blockers. If Friday night’s any indication, the duo has just become a trio.
Tariq Owens, a former Tennessee Volunteer, made a splash in the first game of his career as a member of the Red Storm. Owens blocked not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE (!) shots on the night. Those kind of numbers will certainly get you attention, and attention he has gotten.
2. Marcus LoVett appears as good as advertised: There was a lot of hype around the Morgan Park High School alum going into last year, and after one night, it’s very easy to see why. LoVett dropped 19 points in the win, shooting 5-for-7 from the field, 3-for-5 from the 3-point line, and 6-for-7 from the free throw line. How’s that for range?
In addition to the shooting numbers, he dished out seven assists and grabbed three rebounds, all while only committing one turnover in 24 minutes of action off the bench.
Not since the great Nurideen Lindsey burst onto the scene in 2011 had a Red Storm player scored as many points in their debut like Marcus LoVett did Friday night. The thing is, it might only get better from here.
3. Early or not, the Johnnies looked great: It had to feel like a breath of fresh air for fans of the Red Storm to see St. John’s clicking like they did on Friday night. Yes, there is context of course. No, they aren’t going to shoot an eFG% of 72.6 percent every night. No, they probably won’t be shooting 50 percent from 3 on a nightly basis.
And no, their opponents will get tougher than Bethune Cookman the rest of the way. However, it is comforting if nothing else to see them play as well as they did.
While they started 3-0 and 7-3 (and beat Syracuse!) before everything came crashing down, there’s no denying that this year’s team is much more talented than last year’s. That much was evident Friday night in Queens.
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