Drissa Traore is a 6-foot-8 forward from LUHI. He has the perfect build, play style, and passion for defense for Mike Anderson’s up tempo style. He is a fierce competitor who is ready to challenge himself at the next level. Traore has played with and against some of the best high school talent in the country, which has prepared him tremendously for Big East basketball. When discussing his high school experience he said that playing against teams like Sierra Canyon, The Patrick School, etc. has “given me confidence to show that I can compete with those high level players.
Home Sweet Home
Believe it or not Drissa originally didn’t want to go to school in New York. However he loves Mike Anderson’s play style. He ultimately chose St. John’s to further his academic and athletic career because of the success he saw Mike Anderson have in his first year at the helm and because the coaching staff made him feel wanted. Traore is excited to be in the Red and White this fall, “For me, watching them (on TV) is so exciting because I’m going to be there next year”.
He personally knows fellow New Yorker’s such as Dylan Addae-Wusu, Posh Alexander, and Julian Champagnie. He says how these guys “Play for New York” and this was intriguing to him. He has actually played with Dylan Addae-Wusu when they were younger. The two will look to reestablish that chemistry for the 2021-2022 season.
What Does he Bring to a Basketball Team?
Traore said that, “What I’m going to bring is energy. Energy, rebounding, defense, talking”. He truly seems like a perfect fit for Mike Anderson’s 40-minutes of hell style of play and I think that Drissa Traore will prove to be a real hidden gem in this recruiting class.
Off the Court
Hobbies: Collecting Shoes
Favorite NBA Player: KD or LeBron (but he says he has many favorites so I asked him for his All time starting 5 instead)
Dream Job: Having his own business or being a teacher/coach.
Welcome to the blog, Cobblestones. We have a feeling you guys might be seeing more of them here in the future, so get excited. The collab is finally here. The Biergarten is one of the more popular destinations for college students at St. John’s, and tomorrow a new chapter begins with us. This Thursday, and moving forward, St. John’s students can come out to the Biergarten for great deals on food and drinks at an exciting venue.
Tomorrow night from 8-11 it all begins. Oh, and before I forget, come early. The line might be a little long and you definitely do not want to miss out on the new Johnnie Stool shot (I promise it’s good).
$5 Johnnie shots and pretzels, as well as $15 pitchers kick off the event. On top of that, $5 Biergarten light lagers and $10 boots are other fantastic options for you and your friends.
It’s been a long time coming, but we are super excited to share this night and other Thursday’s each month with you guys. Remember to stay Covid-19 safe and wear a mask. We hope to see you tomorrow with shots in your hand, but if you are more of a boot or pitcher person we’re good with that too.
St. John’s fans are going to be seeing many new faces on the men’s basketball team next season. Andrés Pinzón is one of the team’s most highly touted recruits for next season. Pinzón is originally from Puerto Rico, but has most recently played his High School Basketball at LUHI. He agreed to join me for an interview via zoom where we discussed his High School/FIBA basketball experiences, why he chose St. John’s, what fans can expect from him, and some of his off the court interests.
Excuse my lack of video editing experience.
High School Career
LUHI is a national basketball powerhouse year in and year out. Of course, most fans tend to focus on the incredible highlights from LUHI games against schools like Sierra Canyon and the Patrick School. However, aside from the games, Pinzón explained how “every day in practice was a lot of competition”. He says that the competition he saw in practice against guys like Andre Curbelo, Zed Key, and Jalen Celestine prepared him well to succeed at the next level. He still keeps in touch with those guys, specifically Andre Curbelo (Illinois University Point Guard) as they both have connections with the Puerto Rico National team.
Playing on the Puerto Rico national team and his experiences in FIBA is certainly things that make Pinzón unique in comparison to other St. John’s recruits. He absolutely stuffed the stat sheet throughout the U17 FIBA tournament in 2019; his best outing was against the Dominican Republic when he scored 28 points. He spoke about his FIBA experience, saying that “the game is slower so you have to read a lot of defenses so it helped me when I play in the United States because the game is way faster”. This sort of experience with reading defense is so valuable to a young college player, especially in the Big East.
A Look Into The Future
Why did Andrés Pinzón want to come to St. John’s? Well the answer is really quite simple. He wanted to stay in New York. When I asked him why St. John’s over schools such as Florida or New Mexico, he said that he “didn’t want to move to another state”. He went on to acknowledge Assistant Coach Van Macon as a crucial piece in his recruiting process. He and Coach Van Macon made a connection that played a role in getting Pinzón to commit to St. John’s.
When I asked Andrés what the best thing he brings to a basketball team is he told me that it was the ability to make others better. He says, “I can create for me, for my teammates…I like to share the ball and keep everybody involved”.
Life Outside of Basketball
To complete the interview we talked about some of the things he likes to do when he’s not playing basketball.
Hobbies: Going to the studio to hangout with his friends who rap (Andrés does not rap himself)
Favorite Rap Artist: Anuel & Bad Bunny
Dream Job that’s not playing basketball: Astronaut
In a conference like the Big East, it is an incredible accomplishment if just one person from your program earns a conference honor. This year the Johnnies finished the regular season with several Big East awards.
Coach of the Year
Mike Anderson, a.k.a. Iron Mike, took home the hardware for Big East Coach of the year.
After being selected to finish ninth in the preseason polls Mike Anderson made it clear that he had other plans. He knew what he had with this team, and he proved very quickly that St. John’s is no longer a bottom feeder in this league. Anderson secured yet another winning season, making it 19 straight. This season was the first time in over half a decade that the Johnnies finished with a winning record in Big East play. The choice was clear for coach of the year and I’m glad that it was as clear to everyone else as it was to me. We are lucky to have a coach like MA in Queens.
Freshmen of Year & Defensive Player of the Year
Similarly to coach of the year, in my eyes this award the “Freshman of the Year” award was never a competition. Posh Alexander showed us from day 1 that he is a special player who was going to make a major impact in this league. He was the catalyst for the Johnnies all season long and fit like a glove into Mike Anderson’s “40 minutes of hell” style of basketball. Posh averaged 11.1 points, 4.4 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.6 steals. 2.6 steals per game was good enough for 7th in the nation. His relentless defensive energy and determination earned him Big East Defensive Player of the Year.
Only three players in Big East history have won Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman. Who are those players you may ask? Patrick Ewing, Alonso Mourning, and Allen Iverson. ELITE company and Big East royalty.
Side note: After missing the last two games of the regular season do to injury, Posh Alexander IS playing today vs. Seton Hall.
Julian also improved his three point percentage by a healthy margin going from 31% a year ago to 38%. He was able to improve his percentage while shooting four more threes per game. Coming into this season he spoke about how he put in a lot of time into his jump-shot in the off-season and it showed.
Aside from being named “Most Improved Player” Julian was also selected for All-Big East First Team.
Champagnie was a shoe-in for Big East First Team honors and there was a strong argument for him to be Player of the Year. In light of us having a game later this afternoon, I am going to keep karma on our side and I will not go on a rant about how the Player of the Year award was given out this year. Instead I will take the high road.
Over the next couple days it’ll become clear who the best player in the league is. Believe it!
Key’s to Beating Seton Hall…Again
Beating a team twice within the same week is never an easy task. However we can and will do it. After falling behind 18-0 at the start of the game, Mike Anderson rallied the troops and brought the team to within 10 points of the Pirates at the break. In the second half Julian Champagnie, Marcellus Earlington, and Dylan Wusu led the charge in what saw St. John’s out score Seton Hall 53-33 in the second half. This was easily the most impressive half of basketball that we’ve seen St. John’s play all year long and boy did it come at the right time.
When you evaluate the things that we’re doing on that run that made them so successful it really came down to two main things. Committing to slowing down Sandro Mamukelashvili and shooting efficiently from beyond the arc down the stretch. Mamukelashvili was one of the Big East Players of the Year this season. He is the motor that keeps Seton Hall moving. While it is almost impossible to slow him down, if we can hold him to 15 points like we did the other night, we can put ourselves in a very strong position for victory. Seton Hall doesn’t have a plentiful amount of scorers. It is vital that we don’t let their star forward get rolling. Back on March 6th when we beat Seton Hall, Marcellus Earlington scored 12 points on four 3-pointers. The junior forward was on fire from deep and helped to spark the massive comeback. As a team the Johnnies shot 45% from beyond the arc that night. They were extremely effective with the long ball and that played a major role in making them victorious.
MSG is our home court. Let’s take it to them. Go Johnnies.
Don’t count us out just yet. Every time I am convinced the season’s over, this team makes me a believer again. Last night reminded me why I bleed St. John’s basketball. It was one of those games that made you proud to be a student, alumni, fan, etc. Last night’s victory was a super gritty performance, led by a tremendous effort from Rasheem Dunn. In March, it’s easy to see which team/which player wants it more. Dunn, who will be graduating this May, understands that this is his last chance at an NCAA tournament. Every game from here on out is literally the most important game of his life and last night he played like that.
Player of the Game
Rasheem Dunn was the obvious choice for last night’s player of the game.
Dunn reminded us the importance of strong senior leadership in March. He scored a season high 21-points last night while shooting at a high clip. He played relentlessly on the defensive side of the ball and caused havoc for the Providence backcourt down the stretch in this one. You could tell he knew that with Posh out of the lineup, this was his time to take over.
Julian Champagnie and Isaih Moore both registered double-double totals last night during St. John’s comeback victory over Providence. Julian chipped in 16-points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Isaih Moore tallied 10-points and crashed the boards hard for 11 rebounds. Even in a game where Julian struggled to get his shot going, he created offense for himself by taking the ball to the rack and drawing fouls. He continues to be ultra-consistent night in and night out, which is all you can ask for from your best player and team leader.
Isaih Moore was phenomenal off of the bench and played such an important role in last nights victory.
To be plus-26 in a single game is simply ridiculous. Especially when this game was close for a majority of it. St. John’s was on another level when Moore was in there doing his thing and it didn’t go unnoticed.
Greg Williams Jr. has been battling a back injury for the better part of this season. Last night he looked as healthy as ever before and came up HUGE for us when we needed him the most. It’s never easy when you go into a “must-win” game without one of your top players (Posh Alexander), but it makes things easier when you have a guy like Greg Williams who isn’t afraid of the moment and was ready to step up. Greg scored 15 points last night, played hard nosed defense, and converted all his attempts at the line. He will continue to be an x-factor for this team as we head down a stretch of “must win” games.
This is march. Every college basketball fan’s favorite time of the year. For St. John’s fans, spirits are down as we fall on the outside looking in to this year’s NCAA March Madness Tournament. Let’s break down what needs to happen for us to get into this year’s tournament. According to teamrankings.com, we have a 5.9% chance of making a tournament appearance this year.
Let me remind you that in March, a 1% chance is all you need in order to make something happen. Just a couple of weeks ago, every bracket expert had us right on the bubble. An embarrassing loss at home to DePaul immediately dropped us from any consideration.
St. John’s has an opportunity to make something special happen down the stretch and give us something to root for this March Madness.
Protect the Home Floor
St. John’s finishes the regular season with two home games against Providence (3/3) and Seton Hall (3/6). These are two very winnable games that can build momentum headed into the Big East Tourney.
The last time St. John’s faced Providence, we took it to them on their home floor. Led by Julian Champagnie (24 PTS & 10 REB), the Johnnies tallied 92 points and won in convincing fashion. Posh Alexander chipped in 21 points that afternoon, while Rasheem Dunn notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. The win against Providence was the last win of St. John’s 6-game win streak that ended a few days later against Butler.
It has been nearly three months since we last took on Seton Hall. On December 11th we traveled to Newark for our first Big East regular season game and suffered a nine-point loss to the Pirates. Sandro Mamukelashvili led the way for Seton Hall that night as he scored a career high 32-points and also grabbed 9 rebounds. Stopping him was nearly impossible that night and I am sure that has to be the focus for Mike Anderson this coming Saturday. Like I said before, both of these games are extremely winnable. The last time we took on Seton Hall we hadn’t yet discovered our identity. Posh Alexander only had six points and zero assists that night, we all know a performance like that won’t happen again. The Johnnies look much different now then they did back in December and I’m confident we can take it to them this Saturday.
The Big East Tournament
In my opinion, winning two games in the Big East Tournament would put us back in the conversation with the Bubble teams for the tournament. If we can somehow put a run together and manage to get to the final game, then I think we are in. Now, I know this might sounds like a big stretch, but try and be a believer with me here for a second. On February 3rd, we proved that we can beat anyone in this league when we beat down Villanova for the entire 40 minutes. IF (and this is a big if) we can string together a couple of performances like that one down the stretch, we can and we will make some noise this season.
Last night’s win marked Coach Anderson’s 400th career win as an NCAAM head coach. It also clinched yet another winning season for him, making it nineteen seasons straight. He is just one of four D-1 coaches with 15+ years of experience who can say this. Let’s take a look back at what was happening during Coach Anderson’s first career season as a head coach in 2002:
The first Spider-Man was released in theaters.
Eminem’s The Eminem Show was the biggest selling album of the year.
Apple released its second generation iPod.
Kelly Clarkson won the very first season of American Idol.
Nearly two decades of winning basketball at multiple high major programs is incredible. Congratulations again to Coach Anderson on making history.
Player of the Game
At this point it’s almost an automatic to choose Posh or Julian as player of the game on any given night. They could have been co-players of the game last night again, but someone else stuck out to me as a massive X-factor in this one.
Marcellus Earlington was a massive spark off of the bench for us last night. He scored 16 points and pulled down 9 rebounds (team high), coming up clutch all night long. To me, this team has two X-factors. Marcellus Earlington and Vince Cole. While Cole struggled last night, Marcellus more than made up for it. If Cellus can string a few games like this together, we are going to be in great shape for a tournament push.
You really can’t recap any game without dedicating an entire section of the article to our star freshman point guard, Posh Alexander. Last night Posh left it all on the floor (as he always does) and gave Xavier hell for forty minutes. In the midst of a huge victory it seemed like this got slept on last night:
I have no doubt that Posh will secure a triple-double at some point in his tenure at St. John’s. He did it all last night and not just offensively. To go along with his near triple-double performance, he also added three steals. He currently sits at seventh in that nation in that category.
It’s hard to talk about Posh without mentioning his partner in crime, Julian Champagnie. These two have developed unbreakable chemistry on the court and it is a special thing to watch. They connected for a pair of highlight alley oops last night that got everyone out of their seats.
Champagnie led the way in the scoring column last night. He tallied 21 points on a variety of shots and also went 7-7 from the free throw line. On the year, Julian is shooting 45% from the field, 42% from beyond the arc, and 87.5% from the free throw line. Outstanding numbers especially for someone who shoots at a high volume.
Okay, so the tournament seems to be all anyone is worried about this time of year. The way I understand it is, for us to find ourselves in the bracket we have to finish out the rest of the season 3-1 at the minimum. The only loss being to Villanova. The three must win games are DePaul, Providence, and Seton Hall. Essentially, we control our own destiny. In my eyes, if we win those 3 games and win one in the Big East tournament there is no way they can keep us out of the bracket.
Bet the Trend
St. John’s improves to 6-0 ATS in the last 6 games played at Carnesecca. Shoutout to anyone who tailed this pick.
Hopefully St. John’s can keep up their winning ways with a huge game on Saturday vs. DePaul.
At the beginning of 2021, St. John’s basketball was showing signs of regression in the Big East play as they dropped two winnable games to Marquette and Georgetown and were blown out twice by Creighton.
Now, St. John’s is on the cusp of being a ranked team with ranked wins over UConn and Villanova. St. John’s has been on a six game win streak with 5 of those wins coming over Big East opponents. In this time period St. John’s has moved from the 9th spot in the Big East which would mean playing on night one of the Big East Tournament, to having the third most Big East wins and the sixth highest winning percentage among teams. To quote the hit single off One Direction’s fourth studio album, Four:
The PC Friars got Smoked (then they came back to only get smoked again)
There is no better feeling in the world than seeing that stupid Providence Friar mascot sad. He is a top-5 creepiest mascot in college basketball and he has a face that will make your mother question what B-movie horror film you are watching whenever he comes on the TV.
The Johnnies came to play on Sunday in a big way. It is hard to remember a stronger start by the Johnnies in the Mike Anderson Era. The team was white hot from 3 to begin the game, hitting 6 of their first 7 threes before slowing down the tempo in the second half. The Red Storm went from scoring 75 on non-power five teams like St. Peter’s to the point where the offense is playing with fire and desire as they shoot 58% from the field and 52.6% from three.
Are these 3-point numbers sustainable over a longer period of time? Well no, BUT St. John’s has shown in the past two games that it has reached another level as numerous players are improving at making their own shot on the perimeter. Alexander, Dunn, Moore and Earlington have all stepped their game up in the dog days of Big East play and the team is winning because of it. Secondary scoring is crucial to this team’s success during the dog days of Big East play and Wusu, Moore, Cole, Dunn and Earlington have all had moments where they changed the momentum of the game.
The most impressive part of St. John’s performance was the ability to reset after a time-out once Providence took the lead early in the second half. Dunn showed tremendous leadership among the young group down the stretch as he did all of the little things correctly in order to secure the victory. He was the best player of the second half, as the senior from Brooklyn dished out ten assists to secure a double-double. This performance was obviously something I would love to see Rah build upon in the future and it reminded me of the promise the transfer showed last winter. Champagnie slowed down after a white hot start but secondary scoring was able to help secure the victory.
Walking Back A Bad Take
We released an article once with a bad headline. Have y’all heard about this? We compared some of the shortcomings this year’s early season to the lows of the Mullin Era. A lot of people may have misinterpreted the article as a call for Anderson’s removal as coach which was not the case for anyone who actually read the article. The article more or less was designed to evoke a question and discussion on whether the program was on the right track. Anderson answered the question with an emphatic yes through high level coaching over the past two weeks. This take came out way too soon and we wanted to just apologize for being overly critical of Iron Mike. I lived through the Mullin Era and it sucked and there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
Mike Anderson is like a father figure for this program and much like everyone’s real life father, it is easy to be reactionary and overly critical about the little things. The early season losses were like Poppa Anderson waking up at 6 AM before work and deciding to power wash the house which forces the family to wake up in a grumpy mood. He didn’t have bad intentions and was acting in the best interests of the family in the long run as a spotless clean house would be awesome. Now that the house is washed and everything is in order, Anderson is rewarding the SJUBB family with a resort trip to Cabo or taking us to Disney World which can be seen in our 6-game win streak. When things start going good, we are grateful for this trip and regret being mad about the little things. We love Iron Mike and are buying all the stock in $AndersonCoin but we just wanted to take a minute to walk back one of our worst takes.
40 Minutes of Hell
With that being said, Mike Anderson has transformed into being a dark horse candidate for Big East Coach of the Year. If Anderson is able to continue to coach the team at a .700 winning percentage down the stretch which is easily achievable, the team will finish top 4 in the Big East after a slow start. A narrative can even develop about Anderson utilizing the Covid stoppage in the season as a way to get back to basics and further instill his 40 minutes of hell style on players who were just entering his program for the first time like Cole, Wusu, Posh and Moore. Coach of the year does not always go to the coach of the best program, it is a narrative based award and Anderson can be rewarded for the low expectations set by college basketball writers at the beginning of the season.
Here is how the season would have to play out for Andererson to have a real shot at coach of the year:
W @ Butler
W vs Xavier
W @ Marquette
W vs Depaul
L @ Villanova
W vs Providence
W vs Seton Hall
W vs UConn ( if the make-up game happens)
This continuation of St. John’s winning form may seem unlikely but any combination of 5 or 6 of these 7 wins would elevate a team projected to finish bottom 4 in the Big East into the top 5 and a lot of the credit deserves to go to Anderson’s full court pressing scheme which has created a transition offence all season. The front runner should deservedly be Greg McDermott as his team has been an absolute weapon all season but Anderson’s case with a mostly new roster would be compelling to voters if this scenario plays out
Way Too Early: Should they stay or should they go?
Posh Alexander and Julian Champagnie look like players who have serious potential to ascend to the next level. Some people have begun to ask whether Champagnie, the leading scorer in the Big East, is ready for professional ball. I wanted to just take a second and address that both of these players would be better suited to stay an extra year at St. John’s based on the results from some of the past few Big East guards and forwards in the NBA. We will definitely come back and reassess closer to Draft time but the answer appears to be “Not Yet”.
Champagnie is dominant and his game. Julian will probably finish the year as an All-Big East First Team player and teams may see him as a value pick in the second round. Although there is still a ton of time left for Champagnie to improve his draft stock this season through a strong Big East Tournament performance, Julian should plan on staying another year with St. John’s program or entering the draft without an agent in order to feel out the NBA combine process. There are moments where Champagnie reminds me of Jason Tatum with his shotmaking ability but one more year of growth and development may allow him to enter the NBA as a rotational player rather than a long term developmental project. Bad NBA teams have a poor history of player development and moving on from previous projects to go chase the next big project in the NBA draft the next year. Champagnie would be better suited to go into the draft next year as a more finished product and two years of Big East dominance may establish him as a mid-late first round pick making much better money than a second rounder.
On the other end of the spectrum, Posh should not go into the draft this year even without an agent. Alexander was a diamond in the rough with tons of untapped potential. There is no need to go to the combine as a freshman when Alexander can come back next season bigger and stronger. Posh Alexander has grown from being a two way threat who’s offence primarily came from playmaking and the transition to a two way weapon with a solid three pointer. He reminds me a little bit of a slightly improved model of the last two years of Kris Dunn at Providence. We know what happened to Kris Dunn in the NBA albeit his high draft pick set expectations way too high. We’ve seen various Big East stud point guards struggle to find playing time in recent years be it Dunn, Ponds, Howard or Arcidiacono. It would be preferable for Posh.0 to focus on his physical development to make the All-Big East First team and potentially be an All-American next year than focus on the potential of glory in the NBA.
Preview/Drinking Game for Tonight against Butler:
On Saturday, I took a bullet for the #SJUBB community. I watched an entire Butler vs. DePaul basketball game. My reactions can be defined by the words YUCK and STINKY! Without three players, Butler struggled to find much offense outside Bryce Nze and Chuck Harris. If St. John’s can scheme around these players and force the rest of Butler to beat us, we have a solid shot at picking up a relatively relaxed victory tonight against this Butler group. Butler is favored right now at -3 but I would take the Johnnies to continue their run of form and win outright on the road.
Here is tonight’s Drinking Game for St. John’s vs Butler on FS1:
Take a sip once everytime Posh Alexander is referred to as Swanky P
Take two sips everytime Marcellus Earlington’s football background in mentioned
Take three sips if Posh and Wusu’s high school team is shown
Take four sips if St. John’s allows a run of 8 points or more when they have a lead
The boys are absolutely buzzing right now and there is no slowing us down. Posh Alexander led the charge last night, taking down #3 Villanova and putting St. John’s in the national headlines. What else is there to say besides, what a damn game!
Villanova runs like a machine. St. John’s overly aggressive style of defense last night proved to be a stick in the gear and they shut the machine down. Villanova averages just 8 turnovers a game. Last night, the Johnnies turned them over 17 times. Major credit to Mike Anderson for sticking with his style and continuing to prove that it can work against even the best teams in the country.
After beating #23 UConn back on January 18th Posh Alexander said in a post game press conference that, “I personally feel like we can beat anybody.” Boy was he right. The Johnnies continue to string together win after win, improving their winning streak to 5 games.
The most impressive thing about last night’s game was St. John’s ability to hold onto a lead throughout the entire game. For anyone watching you were probably expecting a big run from Villanova at some point in the 2nd half, but it never happened. The Johnnies pretty much held a steady 10-point advantage for the entire second half of this one. They kept hammering, never letting off the gas, and put the nail in the coffin for Jay Wright’s Wildcats. Dare I say…we dominated Villanova?
This win moved us up to 67 in the NET rankings. And it puts us in serious consideration for the NCAA tournament.
Posh Alexander – King of NY
This tweet just about sums it up. Last night Posh Alexander scored 16 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, tallied 4 assists, and stole the ball 3 times. Incredible numbers but that wasn’t even the most impressive part of his game. Posh was matched up on Collin Gillespie, a preseason second team All-American point guard for Villanova, and he outplayed him every second of the game. Posh held Gillespie to 4 points while shooting 2-12 from the field and 0-8 from beyond the arc. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Posh Alexander is the catalyst for this team. He is the motor.
Adding a 3-point shot to his game opened so much for him and you have to love the confidence he is playing with right now. He is the man on campus and it seems as if he is beginning to realize that. This team will go as for as he can take them.
It seems like there is a section about Julian in just about every post game article that we do. He is Mr. Consistent. After failing to score for the entire first half, he completely flipped the script in the second. He ended up with a double-double (14 PTS and 13 REB) and he also blocked 3 shots. He called his performance and “off day” on instagram (see above) and in a post game press conference. I wish my “off day” was a double-double against the third ranked team in the country. Julian hit a couple of vital 3’s down the stretch in this one and was a big help in preserving the lead in the second half.
After the game he did an interview with Andy Katz, host for @MarchMadness.
Dylan Addae-Wusu, The Spark We Needed
This young man has continually grown more and more on St. John’s fans since opening night this season. He came off the bench and scored 9 points last night including two 3-pointers, grabbed 4 boards and locked down whoever he was assigned to on the defensive end. His role on this team can not be overlooked and I think more people every game are seeing how important he is. He played incredible defense, has no hesitation on the floor, isn’t afraid to let it fly, and attacks the basket hard. Oh and did I mention he is only a freshmen? The kid is an absolute stud and is improving every game. We are a better team when Dylan is on the floor.
Following the 75-73 win at Marquette on Sunday, St. John’s has now pulled off four straight wins, and jumping teams in the Big East standings at an alarming pace. This sparked up some Twitter chatter about possible tournament hopes.
Now I don’t wanna sound like that guy who gets unnecessarily hyped after a win, because believe me, you know damn well that St. John’s could beat a high school varsity team and fans on Twitter would be like: “Huge win! This is the turning point! What do you think we need to do now to make the tournament?”
That said, I’m just gonna go out on a limb and say it:
I do think we’re going to make the tournament.
But before we get into that, I wanna dive into the actual Marquette game because it was a fun one.
St. John’s travelled to Milwaukee on Sunday to take on Marquette after their originally scheduled game vs UConn was postponed. (Seriously UConn, you guys gotta do better. That’s like your 15th Covid pause)
This game was huge for the Red Storm, who was seeking revenge from the last time the two teams met — which actually happens to be the last time the Johnnies have lost. As for Marquette, well, similar situation but flipped. Their last victory was against SJU, and have since been coming off two straight losses to DePaul and Providence.
Yes you read that right. Marquette lost to DePaul. At home. By seven. Haha couldn’t be us. Bums.
And with Georgetown holding serve at home against Providence on Saturday, a win for St. John’s would see them tied with the Friars for 6th place in the conference.
The Johnnies came out of the gates firing. The shots were falling. All was well.
Vince Cole, who started in place for the injured Greg Williams, was banging threes from deep and finished with ten points. His game has translated from JUCO to the Big East very nicely, similar to the likes of LJ Figueroa. The Red Storm started the game 6-9 from behind the arc, and at one point even pulled off a 28-8 run.
Marquette couldn’t get shit going. All momentum was leaning the right way. To close the half, Julian Champagnie drilled a three and just seconds later Posh Alexander got a steal and the and-one. Just like that, St. John’s had taken a 15-point lead into the locker room.
…And in classic fashion, St. John’s came out the second half flat and blew the lead in like 5 minutes. And that’s not an exaggeration. It took literally 5 minutes and 13 seconds to piss the lead away. You couldn’t write a more predictable script.
The rest of the game was pretty much St. John’s going on like a 6-0 run, Marquette cutting it to like two, and SJU trying to pull away again. Kudos to team for never allowing the Golden Eagles to grab the lead.
Rasheem Dunn played really well offensively to combat the constant runs by MU and while at first I was skeptical with the coaching decision to go combo and have Dunn and Posh start at the same time, the two play styles prove to compliment each other nicely.
As for Posh, he will probably go down as one of my favorite St. John’s players ever when all is said and done. You can’t not love his game. He had a clutch steal with around a minute and a half in which he stripped DJ Carton and finished at the rack.
The play of the game though came with around 45 seconds left: Dylan Addae-Wusu drove hard in the paint and finished with an acrobatic bucket. (Still shocked how that wasn’t also a foul, but whatever.)
A series of confusing and stressful events ensued, but to make a long story short, St. John’s managed to hang on for the 2-point victory by the grit of their teeth and everybody lived happily ever after.
Now, to the juicy stuff. You may be asking, “Barstool, what does this mean for St. John’s NCAA Tournament hopes?”
I have seen a lot on Twitter over the past few hours debating this topic. The timeline took a few hours to cool down. But honestly right now, I just want to enjoy the ride.
Backtrack for a minute: on January 9th, St. John’s lost to Creighton by 18 points and dropped to 1-5 in the Big East. We were tied with Georgetown for last place. The fact we’ve made it this far and are now ONE game out of a first-round bye in the conference tournament, is an incredible feat. I’m just happy we can play meaningful basketball in February.
Now, let’s speculate: At 11-7 overall and 5-6 in the conference, the Johnnies have a very interesting resume. We have road wins against #23 UConn and a Marquette squad who has beaten #4 Wisconsin and #9 Creighton. Our worst two losses are against BYU, who is projected to get an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament, and then on the road against Georgetown in OT.
For SJU, if you can improve your resume with some better wins, and your worst loss all year remains an overtime defeat on the road against Georgetown, I don’t see how the selection committee can keep you out.
A source close to us also spoke with John Fanta, who believes the Johnnies can still afford getting swept by Nova, if they can make up for that by going 6-3 or 5-4 down the stretch.
We are NOT in the tournament yet by any means. Still a ways off. And frankly, I think we are just grazing the surface of being on the bubble. There is A LOT of work that still needs to be done. But what I can say is that I am confident about the schedule. If we take advantage of what is in front of us and play it one game at a time, we will get in.
The reason I am so keen about racking up these wins is because of the uncertainty of the status of the Big East Tournament. Will it get played? Will it not? If there’s no Big East Tournament, thats one less path St. John’s will be able to take advantage of. Nonetheless, the Johnnies have a favorable 9 remaining regular season games:
vs. DePaul (rescheduled game)
vs. UConn (rescheduled game)
I say take care of business and the basketball gods will be in our favor. You don’t want to see us get hot. I’m feeling good. Way better than I probably should, but then again who would have thought that we’d miraculously pump life back into our once dead season.
Come back to me in a week or two when I’ll either want to delete this blog or I’ll want to collect my thanks from all of you for seeing the future.