Positive Post-Game Prognosis: On the Road at St. John's


I'll be honest if ever there was a need for this column, It's now.

One game is an aberration but three games in a row of poor shooting is a full-on slump. Yup, we're officially in a slump, it happens. Better to get them out of the way now - it will pass.

(More Positivity After the Jump)

HoyaProspectus sums up the reaction to this game perfectly:

As a fan, watching a loss like this against a team that we perceive as inferior can be frustrating.  But in truth, this was a pick 'em game, one that didn't go the Hoyas way.

That's the bottom line.

We can quibble about the mistakes and who should have done what. We are obviously capable of playing better. But isn't that a good thing? I think it's still obvious that the true level of the team is a lot closer to the team that beat twelve good opponents than the team that lost to three good opponents.

This was a toss up game on an opponent's court, just like the Temple, ODU, and Missouri games. We pulled out the first two and fell just short these past two times. It happens. It's tough out there on the road.

We played in a hostile environment against a team that's playing at the top of it's game right now. We had a lot of things go wrong for us: a missed bunny here, a horrendous call there, and that's the difference in the game. A team that shoots 66% from FT on the year shot 78% from the line (I called this happening pregame they always seem to make their free throws against us). Jim Burr was horrendous as always. The charge call against Chris down 1 was a joke. That one call was enough to decide that call. They call a block instead of a charge we're up 2 assuming Chris hits his free throw. We make the correct plays we win despite the bad calls of which there were many others. But while it hurts more to lose in such a close fashion it certainly bodes better to lose close than it does to get blown out. We hung tough despite our shooting woes and Jim Burr (I had a sinking feeling as soon as his name flashed at the bottom of the screen).

Despite the dissapointing outcome there are a lot of positives to take out of this game:

  • It's a learning experience. I know some people don't believe there's anything you can learn from losing that you can't learn from winning a game like this. They're wrong. Losing this game will make us better. Others may argue that haven't these players done enough losing over there careers to learn the lessons that taking a lost can yield. I point to the team we just played St. John's. They've lost more than enough over their careers, but isn't it clear their losses to St. Bonaventure and Fordham have made them a better team? Not just the players, but coaches learn things from losses as well.This loss will make us a better team.
  • We out rebounded St. John's by 11 and had higher rebounding % numbers as well. We did a good job rebounding against a tough physical team. Remember mistakes and bad things always stand out in our minds more so than when things go right. I'm sure there has been much complaining about offensive rebounds by St. John's, which is understandable because there were some at critical times down the stretch, but for the game we did a fine job keeping them off the glass and did a good job crashing the offensive glass ourselves.
  • It's still early. We started out 1-2 in conference play in 06-07 also: A win at home over ND before dropping games to an unranked Nova at home and then @ a Top Ten Pitt. We then proceeded to rattle off eleven straight wins and only dropped two the rest of the year. And oh, we had already lost three games before conference play even started.
  • We have plenty of time to dig ourselves out of this minor hole. It's an 18 game conference season. There are 15 more games to play. I'd rather drop a few early and work out of it rather than be riding high and fade down the stretch. Let's be honest if we make it to the Sweet 16 is anyone going to remember we lost to St. John's in the first week of January? 
  • We got minimal contributions from our Big Three and still were one possession away from a win. Our guards have a normal game we win this game in a blow out.  We are a good talented team to have been able to be on the verge of winning this game despite the lack of production from the guards. Our Interior players carried us and almost beat a good big east team essentially by themselves.

Player Evaluations:

  • Hollis Thompson: Well people asked for a big game from Hollis before the game, and boy did he deliver. He led the team in points and rebounds! Simply amazing game for Hollis. He was our only consistent three-point shooter, but also scored on a variety of drives and midrange jumpers. He was also our best player defensively having the best defensive rating on the team.He also didn't turn over the ball and had a steal.
  • Julian Vaughn: 8 points 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. Julian was our second most productive player. He was also our second best defender. He continued his improved FT shooting. Would've had an even better game if not for the refs who called him for a bogus offensive foul( giving him an extra turnover) and over the back call (taking away an offensive rebound).
  • Chris Wright: 7 points could've had a couple more if not for the refs. Lead the team with 4 assists. He also had the highest offensive rating of player who saw serious minutes. Played tough despite tweaking his ankle in the second half.
  • Austin Freeman: Austin wasn't himself, but still managed 6 points and 4 rebounds and 2 assists. It's all down hill from here.  Definitely drew a couple more fouls than what was called.
  • Jason Clark: Still in a bit of a slump shooting, but managed to contribute in some other ways. He grabbed 7 rebounds and did a good job down the stretch of drawing fouls and hitting his free throws.
  • Henry Sims: Henry killed St. John's with his mid range jumper. He also had 3 rebounds 1 block and a steal.
  • Nate Lubick: Did a great job drawing fouls and then converting at the FT line. He also did a good job on the defensive end. He also had 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 0 turnovers. One of Nate's better games.
  • Vee Sanford: Had a nice mid range jumper in his limited minutes.
  • Jerrelle Benimon: Saw limited minutes.

Onto West Virginia.  We can take revenge on St. John's at Verizon in three weeks.

Stay Casual, my friends.

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