Red Storm fans had a lot to cheer for Monday night.
College basketball season is officially here. ESPNU showed its first game of the year tonight. The William & Mary Tribe visited St. John's to tip-off 2K Sports' Classic benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer. The Red Storm did everything they could to start this season off with excitement.
Early on, the Tribe appeared in control. They came out shooting, and looked as if they could shock the nation in their opener. Then, the second half struck. The shots stopped falling, and the talent disparity surfaced as St. John's pulled away 74-59.
Coach Tony Shaver's group came out gunning from downtown. The Tribe stretched a lead to as many as nine points in the first half. They would go on to finish the period with a seven point lead.
St. John's sat back defensively in a 2-3 zone for much of the first half. The team's intensity was clearly lacking, and the Tribe took advantage. On the night, William & Mary attempted 32 treys.
What we saw in the second half was a complete role reversal. The Storm lived up to their name. Coming out with a newly energized effort, St. John's attacked their overmatched opponents and forced a trackmeet.
With so many new faces, many were unsure what to expect from Steve Lavin's group. They are still waiting on several elite recruits to gain eligibility. They are even without their head coach. Lavin is still at home recovering from prostate cancer surgery.
Assistant coach Mike Dunlap led his squad tonight. Despite not seeing the energy necessary in the first half, Dunlap got things turned around.
How far can this St. John's team go?
Red Storm fans got a chance to see their new roster in action. The team's four leading scorers accounted for 67 of the team's 74 points. What's even more impressive? Those four players are all new to the team. Juco transfer's Nurideen Lindsey (19 points) , and God's Gift Achiuwa (17 points) led the team. Also joining the scoring barrage in the second half were a pair of freshmen Moe Harkless (17 points) and D'Angelo Harrison (14 points).
This team is very inexperience and undersized, but filled with talent. What could make this team even more dangerous are the new faces it could add before conference play starts.
What do we know at this moment? The Red Storm will be a handful for any team they play. They are quick defensively and will attack to create exciting transition scoring, which was evidenced by Lindsey's five steals tonight.
Coach Dunlap does have some talking points for his young group. The Storm managed to shoot just 48 percent from the charity stripe (12-25). This is a weakness that must be corrected before they see a power conference team.
For now, St. John's emerges with an opening day victory. The team will turn its attention to a matchup with Lehigh on Wednesday. William & Mary will face Hampton Saturday.