basketball

Johnnies Fail in Their Role As The Hunted

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

For the first time this season the hunters had become the hunted.

St. John’s had forced this transition after winning 6-of-7 and joining the NCAA Tournament chatter. Coach Mike Anderson knew how difficult this change of roles would be. The veteran coach had learned this when he turned faltering programs at Alabama-Birmingham, Missouri and Arkansas into winners. There always came a time when his program was perceived differently and opponents came with a fury.

That moment for his St. John’s squad came Saturday night in Carnesecca Arena. The Johnnies hosted a woeful DePaul program that had just one league win to its credit. The Blue Demons had no postseason possibilities to play for, just a chance to play, which is beautiful gift this season.

“I warned our guys,” Anderson said after a brutal 88-83 loss that leaves St. John’s with only one route to the NCAA Tournament.

“They don’t control their own fate short of winning the league,” CBS Sports Bracketologist Jerry Palm told TheNYExtra.com before the Johnnies suffered their worst loss of the season. “Winning out the regular season could be enough but ask me again when they get closer.”

The Red Storm (14-9 overall, 8-8 in the Big East) is farther away from March Madness than it was before tipoff.

 And they will be the hunted in three remaining regular season games. St. John’s hosts Providence (11-11, 7-9), which sits below the Johnnies, plays at Villanova (14-3, 9-2), which will be looking to avenge a 70-59 loss, and hosts Seton Hall (13-9, 10-6) which would like nothing more than to kick their cross-Hudson River rivals into the bottom of the standings where they once were at 1-5.

But that stretch also gives Anderson a chance to see if his players learned a painful lesson in his second season.

“My job as a coach is to try and keep them in the moment,” said Anderson. “But they are human, they are kids, and sometimes you read the clippings, but then people show up to play you. St. John’s, with how we are playing, people are going to come at you a little harder.”

DePaul played harder and tougher, two of the traits Anderson has instilled in this team.

“I’m so impressed with that team,” ESPN’s premier college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said of St. John’s. “They play hard.”

On this night, they did not play hard enough. On this night, DePaul (4-10, 2-10) took the Johnnies inside and pounded them 58-18, a stat so glaring it looks like a misprint. On this night, they allowed the Blue Demons to shoot a season-high 63-percent from the field.

“Our toughness, that is what it comes down to,” said St. John’s star Julian Champagnie, who had 29 points and seven rebounds. “There is no real explanation for it. They came out and they played harder, they wanted it more.”  

The hunters also do.

By Lenn Robbins

For the first time this season the hunters had become the hunted.

St. John’s had forced this transition after winning 6-of-7 and joining the NCAA Tournament chatter. Coach Mike Anderson knew how difficult this change of roles would be. The veteran coach had learned this when he turned faltering programs at Alabama-Birmingham, Missouri and Arkansas into winners. There always came a time when his program was perceived differently and opponents came with a fury.

That moment for his St. John’s squad came Saturday night in Carnesecca Arena. The Johnnies hosted a woeful DePaul program that had just one league win to its credit. The Blue Demons had no postseason possibilities to play for, just a chance to play, which is beautiful gift this season.

“I warned our guys,” Anderson said after a brutal 88-83 loss that leaves St. John’s with only one route to the NCAA Tournament.

“They don’t control their own fate short of winning the league,” CBS Sports Bracketologist Jerry Palm told TheNYExtra.com before the Johnnies suffered their worst loss of the season. “Winning out the regular season could be enough but ask me again when they get closer.”

The Red Storm (14-9 overall, 8-8 in the Big East) is farther away from March Madness than it was before tipoff.

 And they will be the hunted in three remaining regular season games. St. John’s hosts Providence (11-11, 7-9), which sits below the Johnnies, plays at Villanova (14-3, 9-2), which will be looking to avenge a 70-59 loss, and hosts Seton Hall (13-9, 10-6) which would like nothing more than to kick their cross-Hudson River rivals into the bottom of the standings where they once were at 1-5.

But that stretch also gives Anderson a chance to see if his players learned a painful lesson in his second season.

“My job as a coach is to try and keep them in the moment,” said Anderson. “But they are human, they are kids, and sometimes you read the clippings, but then people show up to play you. St. John’s, with how we are playing, people are going to come at you a little harder.”

DePaul played harder and tougher, two of the traits Anderson has instilled in this team.

“I’m so impressed with that team,” ESPN’s premier college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said of St. John’s. “They play hard.”

On this night, they did not play hard enough. On this night, DePaul (4-10, 2-10) took the Johnnies inside and pounded them 58-18, a stat so glaring it looks like a misprint. On this night, they allowed the Blue Demons to shoot a season-high 63-percent from the field.

“Our toughness, that is what it comes down to,” said St. John’s star Julian Champagnie, who had 29 points and seven rebounds. “There is no real explanation for it. They came out and they played harder, they wanted it more.”  

The hunters also do.

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