Home » Columns »Your Phil of Hoops » Currently Reading:

St. John’s has the momentum to make a run in February

February 5, 2014 Columns, Your Phil of Hoops No Comments

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Times are good for St. John’s right now. You could see it after their 86-76 win at Providence, when JaKarr Sampson and D’Angelo Harrison got to the interview room before head coach Steve Lavin and sports information director Mark Fratto and proceeded to do their best impression of Fratto introducing the press conference. The youthful exuberance got a few laughs out of those who had gathered.

When you’ve won five of six and look like you’re starting to figure it out, you feel free to do something like this. It’s happening a little later than they surely would have liked, but it may not be too late.

“Gradually, this team is moving in the right direction, and beginning to pick up steam with each practice and each game opportunity,” said Lavin.

After starting Big East play with five straight losses, St. John’s has now won five of their last six after an 86-76 win at Providence on Tuesday night. The game itself was a tale of two halves, and the Red Storm was certainly tested in the second half after they built a seemingly comfortable 67-44 lead a little over five minutes into the second half. As Providence rallied with the home crowd behind them, the Red Storm faced as big a test of the season as anything, as allowing Providence to complete the rally could have been devastating to a team that finally had some momentum.

“I feel like last year, we would have kept bleeding and they would have taken the lead,” said Sampson, who scored 21 points on 10-15 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.

St. John’s came in fresh off arguably their best performance of the season in their last game, a 74-59 win over Marquette. It looked like there was a carryover in the first half, where they turned the ball over once and shot 61.1 percent from the field thanks to getting easy scoring chances (they had a 32-12 edge in points in the paint) en route to tying their season high of 53 points in a half. They finished the game with just five turnovers while forcing 15.

The confidence is at a high point, as this team has gotten a good feel for each other. The Red Storm doesn’t have the most experienced team around, but they aren’t a bunch of freshmen and there’s plenty of talent to win with. Next year might be “the year” for the current core, as they have three seniors with just one being a significant contributor, but this team has plenty of parts to be better than what they have been thus far. They have a scorer in Harrison, though he does so in volume as he shoots a low percentage, along with a rim protector in Chris Obekpa, a constantly improving athletic wing in Sampson and good playmakers in freshman Rysheed Jordan and junior Phil Greene IV.

Jordan has been a key of late and might be the biggest reason they have won five out of six. While this team has played together for a while now and seems to have a good feel for each other, Jordan is the floor leader who can bring it all together. He had a career-high 18 points on Tuesday night to go along with six assists and two turnovers, and is averaging 10.3 points per game in that stretch. In the last two games, he has 13 assists and five turnovers.

“He’s just getting better every game,” said Harrison. “He got off to a slow start, I told him it’s like that when you’re a freshman, you’ve just got to learn the game. The game is slowing down for him. He’s making all the right decisions, he’s a really good player, and that’s another reason why I feel we’re doing so good, because he’s stepping up as a leader.”

It tells you something that the Red Storm built up a 23-point lead with Harrison going 4-12 for 12 points through the first 25-plus minutes of the game. Harrison would eventually lead the way with 22 points, but eight came in the final two minutes when he went 8-8 from the foul line as Providence fouled to try to extend the game. He also had to play with foul trouble at times, but managed to stay in the game to be effective.

St. John’s has a chance to finish strong and get good momentum going into the Big East Tournament. They play five of their final eight games at home, where they have only lost to Syracuse and Villanova this season. They may have had a late start in playing like they are capable of, but it’s happening now and there is plenty of basketball ahead of them. That means there may also be more opportunities to have some light-hearted fun at the expense of some of the staff.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we spend a lot of time looking at what the Commission on College Basketball came up with, as their report was just produced. We also look at the NBA Draft and transfers, which have many rosters potentially in flux for next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.