St. John’s couldn’t have asked much more from its season opener on Tuesday night.
Just as they did last season, Julian Champagnie was scoring from all over the floor and Posh Alexander was piling up the deflections and steals. Dylan Addae-Wusu, the other returning player, returned from minor ankle surgery and didn’t look like he’d lost a step. The wave of talented players who arrived via move appeared to be in synch with the returners, gave the team some new dimensions and seemed to have caught on to effort coach Mike Anderson’s demands. And high-ceiling freshmen Rafael Pinzon, out of Long Island Lutheran, and O’Mar Stanley played well when they saw action.
All in all, it additional up to a 119-61 rout of Mississippi Valley State before 4,749, including the Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley and former St. John’s star Boo Harvey at Carnesecca Arena.
Yes, the Delta Demons, 2-22 last season, may not be the best measuring stick. Bigger tests lie ahead including a Nov. 17 date at Indiana and a Dec. 3 matchup with Kansas at UBS Arena.
For the Red Storm fan who believes in good omens, the team appears to have addressed some serious weaknesses from last season.
St. John’s was outrebounded by an average of 3.3 boards last season, but dominated the glass Tuesday night behind 6-11 Fordham move Joel Soriano – who also showed a lot of offensive skill in the low post – and 6-9 Purdue move Aaron Wheeler.
And the Red Storm wasn’t a consistent shooting team last season but seems to have a lot more in its arsenal this time around. Six players made shots from behind the three-point arc. In addition to Alexander making four, Hofstra move Tareq Coburn had three, Champagnie and Addae-Wusu had two apiece and Rutgers move Montez Mathis and Pinzon each had one.
Overall St. John’s shot 69% and 52% on the threes.
Champagnie had 20 points and Alexander had 18 points, including four three-pointers, to go with seven assists and three steals to speed St. John’s. Coburn had 13 points including three three-pointers; Stanley had 14 points, Soriano had 11 points and 13 rebounds and Mathis had 11 points.
It was St. John’s highest scoring total since Nov. 24, 1990, when it beat CCSU, 135-92, behind Malik Sealy’s 43 points.
St. John’s scored the first five points and never looked back. There was a 21-4 run that included two three-pointers by Coburn and one by Alexander to establish a 26-7 rule. Later in the first half there was a 17-3 Storm run in which Mathis scored seven points, including four on dunks, that got the crowd rocking.
The Storm led 59-18 at halftime. The largest rule was 112-50 on an Alexander’s fourth three-pointer and came with 4:08 to play.
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