"I Will." Generally, this is not a difficult declaration to uphold, especially when it is made in reference to watching college basketball. However, on a night when New York was hit with pouring rain, a much anticipated trip across the Red Line became much more about the trip across The Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens via public transit to get to Carnesecca Arena from my apartment on the Fordham campus. Buoyed by the last minute addition of my friend Samantha as a travel partner and the promise of being able to type the name God'sgift Achiuwa, we headed into the storm (bad pun intended) to see St. John's host St. Francis (NY).
It was clear that few students had stuck around before the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, leaving the half empty gym lacking much energy beyond that of a PA system that was turned up far too high. A decent number of folks strolled in as tipoff approached, but most did not seem particularly concerned with what was happening on the court. They were ready to be entertained, but didn't seem all too ready for basketball.
And if it was in fact basketball that they were waiting for, that is hardly what they got. Several travelling calls, assorted turnovers and poor shooting left both teams struggling on the scoreboard. As the clock ticked under ten minutes remaining in the half and the score at 14-3 in favor of the Red Storm, Sam and I pondered whether we had ever seen two teams combine to shoot so poorly from the line or anybody held to single digit points at halftime (negative on both counts). The scoring picked up as the Terriers found ways to overcome St. John's major conference level athleticism, cutting a lead that had ballooned to 16 points to just nine as the buzzer sounded.
Throughout the evening, St. Francis showed an uncanny to make plays that kept the game from getting out of hand while simultaneously being unable to pull close enough to really bring any great measure of excitement into the gym. Mistakes had slowed, but they continued piling up on both sides. Achiuwa, the heralded JUCO transfer went from God'sgift going into the game, to "God'schild" in Sam's terminology sometime in the first half, and was called "Bigchild" for the final 15 minutes or so. His play was indeed uninspiring, as was that of much of the St. John's roster with the exception of leading scorers D'Angelo Harrison and Moe Harkless. The Terriers mistakes, combined with a poor shooting night, left them unable to capitalize, however.
By the time the final media timeout rolled around, the game was safely in the Johnnies' control, at which point they seemed to begin playing harder than at any point in the game. Though the idea of winning a game over a team on the bottom of the NEC totem pole hadn't energized them, the chance to make some spectacular plays and pad their stats seemed to do the trick. Sir'Dominic Pointer got himself on the Top Plays of the morning SportsCenter with a dunk against a defense that was resigned to its fate. A few other big dunks went down. It was truly disappointing that it took St. John's 36 minutes of game time to show the offensive purpose that would have made this a much better basketball game to watch. As it turned out, a big effort from the Terriers failed to be an adequate match for what may have been the Red Storm's worst, the scoreboard reading 63-48 as we returned to the storm and across the Red Line.
at SAINT JOHN'S 63, SAINT FRANCIS (NY) 48 11/22/2011
SAINT FRANCIS (NY) 0-4 (0-0) -- T. Nichols 4-16 1-2 9; S. Perunicic 5-9 0-0 13; D. Calloway 2-5 3-8 7; J. Newton 0-0 0-0 0; B. Mockford 2-7 0-0 5; A. Johnson 4-7 1-2 9; J. Cannon 1-4 0-2 2; K. Douglas 1-3 0-0 3; M. Milk 0-0 0-0 0; P. Santavenere 0-2 0-0 0; B. Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-53 5-14 48. SAINT JOHN'S 4-2 (0-0) -- M. Harkless 8-14 1-2 18; D. Harrison 6-10 5-6 21; N. Lindsey 3-4 0-3 6; P. Greene 2-4 0-1 4; S. Pointer 3-5 3-7 10; M. Stith 1-4 0-0 2; G. Achiuwa 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 24-46 9-19 63.
Three-point goals: SFNY 5-23 (S. Perunicic 3-7; B. Mockford 1-4; T. Nichols 0-8; P. Santavenere 0-2; K. Douglas 1-2), STJ 6-10 (M. Harkless 1-3; D. Harrison 4-5; S. Pointer 1-2); Rebounds: SFNY 27 (J. Cannon 7), STJ 34 (G. Achiuwa 7); Assists: SFNY 11 (D. Calloway 4), STJ 11 (N. Lindsey 4); Total Fouls -- SFNY 18, STJ 18; Fouled Out: SFNY-None; STJ-G. Achiuwa.