Owens and Simon Dunk Nebraska out of Gavitt Games
(Photo taken by Steve Ryan/St. John's University Athletics)
Jamaica, NY-- A lead for Nebraska that lasted a whopping 3:35 seconds to begin the game, ended in a dunking competition between select St. John's players after a loud Carnesecca Arena enabled this Red Storm (3-0) team to go wild on the Cornhuskers of Nebraska (2-1).
The Johnnies began with the same lineup as per usual, with Ponds, Simon, LoVett, Clark II, Ahmed. Those five starters, combined, landed 71 of the 79 points. A terrific effort from the starting five, but leads to a question about the teams bench, and potentially Kassoum Yakwe's regression into this season. More on that later.
Back into the game. The teams highly anticipated player in the offseason, was Arizona's Justin Simon, who put up a double double (13 pts, 12 boards, 4 steals). The Red Storm leader in points was Shamorie Ponds, who had 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. The defense was on cue tonight.
Head Coach Chris Mullin had good things to say about Tariq Owens, who has been kept off the scoreboard, but tonight, contributed six blocks against Nebraska. "Tariq is one one of our most-important players. The only reason I take him off the bench is because he can play any position. It doesn't matter if someone gets hurt or gets into foul trouble, he can go in and our lineup is fine. He's the anchor of our defense. He can do almost everything."
Nebraska shot a brutal 28.1% from the field, and even worse from downtown with 23.1%. Leading scorer was Jame Palmer, Jr. who had 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists in 27 minutes of playing time. The Johnnies shot 43.5% from the field, but shot poorly from beyond the arc at a whopping 29.4%. The largest lead for the Johnnies last night was 23, which obviously was the end result as the final score was 79-56.
Marcus LoVett spoke about the arena's atmosphere, "We knew coming into this game it was going to be a big one for our whole team and we wanted to come out with a lot of energy and I feel like we started and finished the game like that, but we have to appreciate our fans, they gave so much energy out there. To see the whole atmosphere of Carnesecca (Arena), it was beautiful to be in that environment and we plan on having more games like that."
The Kassoum Yakwe that we saw in his first two seasons as a Johnnie, has not been found yet this season. But its not looking too good, as he netted only a duo of points from the charity stripe only, and had issues boxing out and playing defense. He had five boards, but the effort was minimal for roughly three of those five. We will see what Yakwe has to offer throughout the season, as he is still considered in the rotation. With 9 players, he must contribute.
The 3-0 St. John's Red Storm play Division II opponent from Long Island, Molloy Lions at Carnesecca Arena at 6:30pm on FS1. The game can be heard on WSJU, with Anthony Tornatore and George Whitbread on the call.