A few members of the Orange came out of the locker room donning shirts that read, “New York’s College Team.” Apparently, they just happened to wear them to Madison Square Garden on the day they played St. John’s. Convenient. But the Orange backed up that kind of swagger and showed the Johnnies who’s still runs this town. They took this one, 76-59 to win their fifth straight against and 11th of 12 vs. St. John’s.
Before getting into the game, I want to bring up the St. John’s “student” section. I know there was a lot of snow last night (if you went to or are from Syracuse, change “a lot of snow” to “hardly a dusting of snow”), but at tip-off there couldn’t have been more than 100 students behind the basket. St. John’s was playing the fourth-best team in the nation, with a new nationally recognized coach and a team full of seniors wanting to take back their city and THAT’S the best you can do? Pathetic.
At the outset, the Orange looked even worse than it did against Seton Hall. St. John’s ran a trap in the backcourt, and somehow Syracuse couldn’t quite figure out how to break it. It’s this simple: Dribble to the middle, force the double-team and pass to one of the three people open down court. But this caused the team problems and resulted in a bunch of turnovers. Aside from the problems with the trap, the Orange was settling for jumpers, and Rick Jackson was getting doubled every time he touched the ball on the block. Syracuse struggled through the first 11 minutes of the game, but after a few adjustments it began to open this game up. Take a look at the stats in the first 11 minutes compared to the last 29:
When there was a TV timeout at the 10:30 mark and St. John’s was leading 12-7, the St. John’s fans were loud and proud. They got on their feet and cheered the Red Storm revival. But it would be short-lived. Syracuse trailed 15-7 before going on an 18-3 run. St. John’s would make a run of its own but Syracuse answered before the end of the half to take an 11-point lead into the break. After that rough start the Orange outscored the Red Storm 69 to 44.
The turnaround began on the defensive end. Syracuse put Jackson at the center position and brought in Southerland. This has been working great recently. Having Southerland’s length and athleticism has created havoc on opposing offense’s. St. John’s is an awful 3-point shooting team, and the defense was able to play the passing lanes to get some easy steals.
On the offensive end, ball movement created some open 3-pointers. It was as if St. John’s was a team full of Mookies [Jones] (that really sounds offensive…). The team was slow to react, and after a few passes Syracuse got some wide open looks. You’ve got to be getting open looks to hit nine of 14 3-pointers. St. John’s stuck with the decision to force Syracuse to shoot and it paid for it.
This was a good confidence boost for the Orange off of a poor performance against Seton Hall. It now get into the meat of its schedule playing a surprisingly good Cincinnati team at Syracuse followed by its first true road game (joking) against Pitt and then it takes on Villanova at home. This is probably the Orange’s toughest three-game stretch of the season. Let’s see what you got, “New York’s College Team.”
-Rick Jackson got his double-double! It was in doubt late in the game, but with a couple minutes left in the game he grabbed a defensive rebound for his 10th board of the night, rifled the ball out of bounds and promptly took a seat on the bench. It was as if he knew his job was done.
-Big props to the guy on the St. John’s dance team. That man was workin’ it. Expect his life story to be turned into a movie starring Zac Efron or someone from Glee.
-We tried getting our “We Want Mookie” chant going at about the five-minute mark, but it quickly ended when the crowd erupted on a Kris Joseph dunk.
-Since I was in attendance, I can’t be 100 percent sure about this, but I believe Jardine had a turnover on an alley-oop but, it didn’t look like a bad decision. It looked like Rick Jackson turned away too quickly before realizing Scoop was passing the ball.
Robbie Gillies is a Senior Columnist for The Juice Online. He is also an editor at Real Clear Sports. See more at http://www.realclearsports.com/