Fifth-Seeded St. John's Heads To No. 4 Saint Joseph's For NIT Opener :: Red Storm meets the Hawks for the first time since 1980 (ESPNU, Bloomberg Radio 1130-AM, Watch ESPN).
Fifth-Seeded St. John's Heads To No. 4 Saint Joseph's For NIT Opener
Red Storm meets the Hawks for the first time since 1980 (ESPNU, Bloomberg Radio 1130-AM, Watch ESPN).
March 18, 2013
QUEENS, N.Y. -
Head coach Steve Lavin and the Red Storm basketball team (16-15, 8-10 BIG EAST) -- a group comprised of four scholarship freshmen, four sophomores and one JUCO transfer -- makes its second postseason appearance in three years, playing as the No. 5 seed and meets No. 4 Saint Joseph's (18-13, 8-8 Atlantic 10) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the First Round of the 76th annual National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
St. John's record 28th appearance in the nation's oldest postseason tournament airs on ESPNU with announcers Mike Crispino and Bob Valvano. The contest can also be heard live on the official radio flagship of St. John's Basketball, Bloomberg Radio 1130-AM, and on RedStormSports.com (subscription), with announcers John Minko and Vin Parise.
Lavin is back in 2012-13 after posting a 2-2 record last season while making a full recovery from prostate cancer surgery (Oct. 6, 2011). Dr. Peter Scardino of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center placed Lavin on a modified schedule in 2011-12 that kept him off the sideline, enabling Lavin to better focus on a full recuperation, while simultaneously securing the No. 8 recruiting class in the nation per HoopScoop.com. St. John's 2012 rookie class is comprised of eight standout student-athletes representing five countries. The highly-acclaimed group followed a 2011 class ranked No. 3 nationally by ESPN. Lavin's record at St. John's is 39-27. St. John's underclassmen represent 95.9 pct. of the Red Storm's scoring on the season.
The Red Storm is 4-7 in away games overall, including a 3-6 mark on the road in the BIG EAST, having posted away wins at Rutgers (72-60, Jan. 23), DePaul (71-62, Jan. 19) and then-No. 14/15 Cincinnati (53-52, Jan. 5). STJ also won at Charleston, 64-53, on Nov. 15.
According to RPIRankings.com, St. John's owns the 31st-toughest schedule in the nation (12-5 home; 4-7 road; 0-3 neutral), which includes 15 matchups against 2013 NCAA and NIT Teams.
BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection, unanimous All-Rookie team member and seven-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week JaKarr Sampson leads all BIG EAST freshmen in scoring (14.9 ppg, 13th overall) and rebounding (6.7 rpg, 11th overall). His rejections per game (1.1, 10th), defensive rebounds (4.5, eighth) and offensive boards per contest (2.2, 13th) are listed among BIG EAST conference leaders. In league play, his 15.1 ppg finished ranked 12th among all players.
After averaging 7.6 ppg as a freshman, guard Phil Greene IV is scoring at a 9.8 ppg clip and showing his ability as a dynamic playmaker despite a hip injury. His 2.6 assists per game are in the top 20 among all BIG EAST players and his 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is ranked ninth. In the last 10 games he is averaging 12.3 ppg, 2.4 assists and is shooting .750 (15-of-20) from the line. He has committed only 18 turnovers in the last 17 games (564 minutes).
Sophomore swingman Amir Garrett spent the offseason in professional baseball as a left-handed pitcher within the Cincinnati Reds minor league system. He is averaging 5.4 ppg and 4.3 rebounds with an impressive .462 field goal percentage in 20.2 minutes per game in a reserve role.
Motor City sophomore Sir'Dominic Pointer averaged 7.8 ppg on a league-fifth 52.9 percent shooting mark, with 6.9 rpg (eighth) and 1.4 spg in BIG EAST play. STJ's toughest on-ball defender has been heating up, averaging 8.3 ppg on 51.1 percent shooting from the field (45-of-88) with 7.0 rebounds (28-of-112 offensive), 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals across his last 16 appearances.
A game-changing shotblocker, 6-9 Chris Obekpa -- the BIG EAST All-Rookie selection and National Defensive Player of the Year candidate with the 7-5 wingspan who is second in the nation in rejections with 128 -- swatted a school-record 11 shots in the victory vs. Fordham (Dec. 8). He tied the St. John's single-season record (76) in only 15 games, eclipsed it in 16, and is averaging 4.13 bpg, second in the NCAA. In conference play, he averaged a league-leading 3.3 swats and finished tied for 10th with 6.5 rebounds (2.3 offensive, 12th).
Texas A&M transfer point guard Jamal Branch has played in 15 games, drawing 11 starts. In BIG EAST play he averaged 6.8 ppg, hitting at a 40.7 percent clip from the field (37-of-91) with 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals. He scored a career-best 18 points at DePaul (Jan. 19), with career highs in rebounds (6) and assists (8) in the season finale against Marquette (March 9).
French sharpshooter Marc-Antoine Bourgault has made an impact in the last 10 games, which includes five starts. He is averaging 5.5 ppg during that stretch in 18.2 minutes.
The final member of Lavin's eight-man recruiting class, freshman Christian Jones was the surprise of the preseason. He has scored in 15-of-22 appearances on the year, saving his best for career-highs of 10 points and six rebounds against MU (March 9).
Athletic wing Felix Balamou will likely miss the Red Storm's NIT First Round game after suffering a sprained left ankle during St. John's BIG EAST Championship matchup with Villanova (March 13).
A Preseason All-BIG EAST Second Team selection, D'Angelo Harrison has been suspended for the rest of the season, head coach Steve Lavin announced on March 1. Harrison ranks third in the league in scoring with 17.8 points per game. The six-time BIG EAST Honor Roll member's 2.2 made 3-pointers per game rate seventh in the conference, he holds the team lead with 1.4 steals per game and his 35.0 minutes per game rank seventh as well.
JUCO transfer Orlando Sanchez will begin participation in 2013-14 as he was granted a Feb. 28 waiver from the NCAA. Harvard transfer Max Hooper is eligible for game participation in the 2013-14 season.
Senior big man God'sgift Achiuwa, who averaged 9.5 ppg and 5.6 rpg in his JUCO transfer year in 2011-12, is in the midst of a redshirt season. Achiuwa, a member of St. John's University's prestigious President's Society, could complete Master's degree requirements by the end of 2013-14.
Second Round NIT play takes place March 21-25 at campus sites. The NIT Semis and Championship are April 2-4 at The Garden.
St. John's In The Postseason NIT
The Red Storm makes its 28th (29th ***) all-time appearance in the NIT Postseason Tournament in 2013, and its first in four seasons. St. John's 28 NIT Tournament appearances are the most by any team in the national event's 76-year history.
St. John's made its last appearance in the NIT in 2010, a 73-71 loss at the buzzer in Memphis' FedEx Forum in what would be the final game of the Norm Roberts Era.
In 2003, the Red Storm posted a 1-13 (21-13 ***) record including a run through the Postseason NIT. St. John's defeated Boston University, 62-57, in the First Round before moving on to a 73-63 victory over Virginia in the Second Round. The Red Storm defeated Alabama-Birmingham, 79-71, in the Quarterfinals and Texas Tech, 64-63, in the Semifinals to reach the title game against Georgetown, where STJ overcame the BIG EAST Conference rival, 70-67 for the NIT championship.
The Red Storm is 40-26 (45-26 ***) all-time in the NIT and has advanced to the championship game nine (10 ***) times in 28 (29 ***) chances: 2003*** (champions), 1989 (champions), 1970, 1965 (champions), 1962, 1959 (champions), 1953, 1944 (champions) and 1943 (champions).
NIT Champions In 1943, 1944, 1959, 1965, 1989, 2003 ***
1943 -- On the way to its first NIT title, St. John's just got by its opening round matchup against Rice Institute of Houston, Texas. St. John's next edged Rice in the closing seconds, 51-49. Hy Gotkin's one-hander at the buzzer proved to be the game-winner. The team then faced local rival Fordham in the semifinals. St. John's defeated the Rams 69-43 and were led by Harry Boykoff's 22 points. St. John's defeated the University of Toledo, 48-27, to capture its first National Invitation Tournament. Boykoff was named Most Valuable Player of the Tournament, scoring 56 points in the three games.
1944 -- In the first victory en route to back-to-back NIT titles, St. John's defeated Bowling Green in the quarterfinals by a score of 44-40. St. John's was led by Bill Kotsores' 15 points. Kotsores scored 15 more points against Kentucky to help the team to a 48-45 victory. St. John's won its second consecutive title with a 47-39 victory over DePaul in the championship game. Ray Wertis led the team with 12 points. Kotsores was named MVP, scoring 40 points in three games.
1959 -- St. John's defeated Villanova in the first round by a score of 75-67. St. John's was led by Alan Seiden with 25 points and Lou Roethel added 21. Tony Jackson exploded for 27 points against third-seeded St. Bonaventure in the quarterfinals, leading the team to an 82-74 victory. Roethel scored 22 and Jackson added 20 in a 76-55 win over the Providence Friars in the semifinals. St. John's took its third NIT title by defeating top-seeded Bradley 76-71 in double overtime. Seiden scored 22 and Jackson had 21 points and 27 rebounds in the game. Jackson, who was named MVP of the tournament, totaled 81 points for the four games.
1965 -- St. John's had to play both seeded teams en route to the school's fourth NIT title. In the first round, the team faced Boston College, defeating BC handily by a score of 114-92. Ken McIntyre scored 42 in the game. In the quarterfinals, St. John's played second-seeded New Mexico. McIntyre again led the team to a 61-54 victory scoring 20 points in the game. St. John's took on Army in the semifinals, and won by seven points, 67-60. In the final the team took on top-seeded Villanova, and St. John's shocked the Wildcats, 55-51. The McIntyre brothers (Ken and Rob) and Lloyd "Sonny" Dove accounted for 48 of the team's 55 points. Ken McIntyre was named MVP of the tournament. He totaled 101 points in the four games.
1989 -- St. John's received a home game in the first round against Mississippi. The team defeated Mississippi 70-67 with Jayson Williams leading the way with 25 points. St. John's once again received a home bid in the second round against Oklahoma State. The team came back from a 32-30 halftime deficit to win 76-64. Williams led all scorers with 27. The squad was then sent to Ohio State for a third round meeting. That marked the second meeting between the two teams that season. The first meeting was in the final of the ECAC Holiday Festival, when the Buckeyes beat St. John's 77-72. Once again, St. John's came from behind, erasing a 17-point deficit to send the game into overtime. St. John's won the game in overtime without its star Williams (who fouled out late in regulation) by a score of 83-80. In the semifinals, St. John's took on the University of Alabama-Birmingham. St. John's won the game 76-65, as freshman Malik Sealy and Williams each scored 17 in the game. St. John's would then have to face St. Louis University, the last obstacle in its comeback season. St. John's defeated St. Louis 73-65 to capture the school's fifth NIT title and the first for head coach Lou Carnesecca. Jayson Williams was named MVP of the Tournament.
2003 *** -- The St. John's men's basketball team entered its March 2, 2003, game with perennial national power Duke with a 12-12 record. Things weren't looking bright for the Red Storm, but, St. John's pulled off the upset, topping the Blue Devils, 72-71. Senior Marcus Hatten sealed the win with a free throw with no time left. And that free throw carried the Red Storm to win nine of its last 10 games, capping the season off with a 70-67 win over Georgetown in the NIT Championship game. The Red Storm finished the season 21-13 overall, and made what would be a difficult finish an exciting ride. A loss to Boston College in the BIG EAST Tournament quarterfinals was diminished by a bid to the NIT, where the team reeled off three-straight wins behind a raucous student cheering section at Alumni Hall -- topping Boston University, Virginia and UAB -- and advancing to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals. Hatten scored 24 points and Elijah Ingram added 16 as St. John's took out Bob Knight and Texas Tech in the semifinals, advancing to face league rival Georgetown in the finals. In that game, Hatten had 22 points, Ingram added 19 and JUCO transfer Grady Reynolds -- a major player down the stretch -- scored 13 points and grabbed a career high 14 rebounds as St. John's won its sixth NIT Championship in program history.
*** -- Figure reduced due to St. John's 2003 NIT participation being vacated by the NCAA in 2006.
Scouting Saint Joseph's
No. 4 seed Saint Joseph's comes into Tuesday's NIT First Round matchup at 18-13 with an 8-8 mark in the Atlantic 10, finishing in a tie for eighth in the league. The Hawks have an impressive 11-3 mark at home. They are coming off a quarterfinal appearance in the A10 tournament, topping Xavier in the opening round before falling to conference runner-up VCU, 82-79.
Statistically, the Hawks are one of the top defensive teams in the A10, allowing just 64.7 points per game, allowing opponents to shoot just 41 percent from the field and a paltry 30 percent from 3-point range.
Individually, St. Joe's has four players averaging in double figures, led by senior guard Carl Jones (14.5 ppg) and junior backcourt mate Langston Galloway (13.7 ppg). Junior forward Ronald Roberts is the team's top rebounder, sitting sixth in the A10 at 8.7 boards per game on his way to a third team all-conference selection.
Head Coach Phil Martelli is in his 18th year at the helm in Philadelphia, and is the winningest coach in Saint Joseph's history. Martelli has seen plenty of postseason success, with a school-record 17 postseason wins, including a run to the 2005 NIT Championship game.
St. Joseph's and the Red Storm have played 55 times in a storied rivalry, with St. John's holding a 43-12 edge. This will be just the fourth meeting between the schools at Saint Joe's and the first since the 1927-28 season. The Red Storm has won seven in a row and 14 of the last 15 in the series, with the last meeting resulting in a 72-55 win for the Red Storm on Jan. 14, 1980 at Carnesecca Arena.