Tag Archives: st. john’s basketball

St. John’s women’s basketball falls short in Big East tourney final


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John’s Athletic Communications

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Despite a tremendous effort by St. John’s sophomore guard Aliyyah Handford, the Red Storm women’s basketball team lost to the DePaul Blue Demons, 65-57, in its first Big East Conference tournament championship game since 1988.

Handford, who is an All-Big East First Team selection, led the Johnnies with 13 points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists. Senior captain Briana Brown added 12 points and four rebounds.

“Obviously we’re disappointed to not be able to come away with a win,” St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella said. “To do something that our university hasn’t done in a long time, since 1988, says something. They know they want to get this opportunity again in the future.”

The Johnnies (22-10, 13-5 Big East) hung with the regular conference champions in the Blue Demons (27-6, 15-3 Big East) through most of the match, but couldn’t find the offensive down the stretch to win the game.

St. John’s will now wait for Selection Monday (March 17) to learn if they will make a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.

 

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Walk-on is only St. John’s men’s basketball player from Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

At the annual St. John’s men’s and women’s basketball media day event on Thursday, October 10, junior forward Khadim Ndiaye sat peacefully, watching.

He observed his teammates as they were being interviewed one on one or sometimes by a horde of reporters. Then he swiftly pulled out a glasses case and put on a pair of glossy plastic spectacles, similar to what basketball superstars Kevin Durant and LeBron James have worn during media interviews.

“I just wanted to look professional,” Ndiaye said.

Eventually a reporter from a local weekly came over to talk to Ndiaye. That was it. No ESPN, no New York Daily News, not even the student newspaper, the Torch, or student TV station, WRED, which was busy drooling over a limited chat with head coach Steve Lavin or sensational junior guard D’Angelo Harrison.

It’s expected for a walk-on player, such as Ndiaye. But on this global team, congested with mega recruits and future NBA players that hail from as far as Texas (Harrison), France (Marc-Antoine Bourgault), Nigeria (Chris Obekpa) and the Dominican Republic (Orlando Sanchez), that walk-on is the only player capable of calling Queens, New York City or even the tri-state area, home.

The days of local products such as Metta World Peace, the basketball player formerly known as Ron Artest, Erick Barkley and most recently Maurice Harkless, are gone for a break. It’s not like Lavin isn’t trying to draw local players. The fourth-year head coach made a push to acquire the services of Brooklyn’s Isaiah Whitehead, who was ranked 20th in the country by ESPNU. But the Lincoln High School star instead chose to play for conference rival Seton Hall University.

So now there’s just Ndiaye, a Queens native from Far Rockaway, who played on Christ the King High School, which is just a few miles to the west of St. John’s. He is following in the steps of past Johnnies, Barkley, Omar Cook and Malik Boothe, all of which played for the Royals.

After high school Ndiaye played Division II basketball at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, where he scored 8.5 points per game and grabbed 4.9 boards in 27 games, but he became homesick and transferred to St. John’s.

“I didn’t like the feel over there, in terms of being away from home,” Ndiaye said.

Nydia is soft spoken, but assertive. He won’t tell you that he’s beaten 2012-2013 Big East Rookie of the Year sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson in one-on-one games — although Sampson has the upper hand in total matches—but he’ll acknowledge they’ve played.

“Khadim is one of the best one-on-one players I’ve ever faced to be honest with you,” Sampson said. “The way he dribble the ball is awkward so it kind of throws you off.”

This season, like any other, Ndiaye’s goal is to help his team win. This ranges from cheerleading on the sidelines to practicing hard to increase his minutes on the floor, a daunting task that seems near impossible with the influx of top level recruits Lavin has made in the past few seasons.

 

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St. John’s men’s basketball team all grown up


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

St. John’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin once said it would take about “three or four” years to build back the Johnnies’ program.

Now in his fourth year as head coach, Lavin was optimistic at the annual St. John’s basketball media day on Thursday, October 10, because the Red Storm has a full set of returning players, plus new talents like never before.

“The last three-plus years was to put our program in position,” Lavin said. “We now feel we can be competitive, because we have the artillery and the firepower to be on more equal footing to the competition.”

After a spring of practicing and a summer playing basketball in Europe, the Johnnies, which were once the youngest team in school history, are all grown up. The Red Storm’s leading scorer junior guard D’Angelo Harrison’s behavior behind the scenes last season eventually got him kicked off the squad at an essential time. This time around, he said he’s changed his ways.

“Knowing how I used to act and the way I am today, now I can see,” Harrison said. “I can honestly say I thank Lavin for what he did.”

A whole cast of Johnnies who were prominent in last year’s National Invitational Tournament appearance will be returning, including the country’s leading shot blocker, sophomore center Chris Obekpa, reigning Big East Conference Rookie of the Year Jakarr Sampson, junior Sir’Dominic Pointer and combo guard Phil Greene IV.

A fresh set of players will also join them for this season, including senior Orlando Sanchez, a 6’9” forward from the Dominican Republic, who hopes to provide stability to the front court.

Sophomore transfer Max Hooper, a three-point specialist, will help the Red Storm from behind the arch, which they desperately needed last season. Also, after redshirting last season, forward God’sgift Achiuwa will return to the Red Storm, and said taking a year off actually improved his game.

“I was able to watch the game from the sideline,” Achiuwa said. “So now I have good perspective of a basketball game. I have an overview of what basketball is all about from every angle.” 

The team’s only true freshman, point guard Rysheed Jordan who was missing in action at the media event, is one of the nation’s top recruits, rated 17 in the country by ESPNU. Jordan hopes to help the back court with scoring.

With this armament of talent for the Johnnies, it seems like the only problem might be how to distribute minutes on the court.
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St. John’s basketball loses forward Amir Garrett


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

BY JON PEREZ

St. John’s sophomore Amir Garrett announced his intent to transfer from the men’s basketball program over Twitter on April 2.

“After a long thought process of speaking with my family, I will be leaving the St. John’s Basketball Program,” Garrett said. “It was a well thought-out decision that didn’t just pop out of nowhere. St. John’s will always have a special place in my heart.”

The 6’6” forward said in a release that he intended to transfer to another program, but that he will “always be a Johnny at heart.”

“We appreciate Amir’s contributions to the St. John’s basketball program and wish him well in all of his future endeavors,” head coach Steve Lavin said in a statement. “He played a valuable role in our rebuilding efforts and represented our program well as a student-athlete.”

Garrett averaged 6.4 points per game in 55 games during his two seasons with the Red Storm. He joined the team in December 2011 after being one of three players to be declared academically ineligible at the beginning of the 2011-12 academic year.

This season, Garrett saw his playing time decrease from 26.9 minutes per game to 20.4 as he averaged 5.5 points.
Garrett said over Twitter that he intended to continue to focus on his baseball career. He is currently a top 20 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization, with whom he signed a deal with a $1 million signing bonus. He can’t collect that bonus until he decides to stop playing NCAA basketball to preserve eligibility.

He began his minor league career last summer, where he made seven appearances and five starts, according to the St. John’s release. He held the opposition to a .255 average before being promoted from the AZL Reds of the rookie-level Arizona league to the Billings Mustangs of the Billings Mustangs. He made two starts there.

The forward’s transfer opens one scholarship spot on a roster that was at its limit of players before the departure. St. John’s is currently pursuing point guard Rysheed Jordan, who is ranked No. 22 on ESPN’s top 100 recruits list. His choices are down to St. John’s, Temple and UCLA and he will make a verbal offer on April 11.

 

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St. John’s falls to #11 Georgetown at MSG


| brennison@queenscourier.com

After jumping out to an early 13-5 lead, St. John’s struggled to find an offensive groove and fell to the 11th ranked Georgetown Hoyas 69-49.

The Johnnies (8-9, 2-4 Big East) scored just six points over the last 12 minutes of the first half after their quick start allowing the Hoyas a chance to get take a lead they never relinquished.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first half – each squad shot under 35 percent. The Johnnies shooting troubles continued in the second half – the team shot 8-27 after hitting only 9-27 shots in the first half.

Shooting has been an issue all year for St. John’s – they came into the game second to last in the conference in field goal percentage and dead last in 3-point field goal percentage.

The length of the Hoyas did not make the Johnnies shooting struggles any easier. Georgetown played six guys over 6-foot-8-inches tall; many times having four on the court at the same time.

“They were really long,” said Moe Harkless. “I think we didn’t do a great job of attacking their zone.”

Georgetown (14-3, 4-2) discovered their shooting stroke at half time, led by Hollis Thompson who made all seven of his shots in the second half, including five three pointers, after missing all six of his shots over the game’s first 20 minutes.

Twice in the second half the Johnnies were able to climb to within three, but each time saw the Hoyas immediately answer with a sustained run. After St. John’s made it 28-25, Georgetown scored nine straight points to stretch their lead to a dozen. The Red Storm were again within one possession of tying the game with 6:36 remaining in the game before Georgetown closed the game on a 21-4 run.

A majority of the Red Storm offense came from the Queens native Harkless. The freshman had nine of the team’s 17 field goals while scoring 21 points.

The team managed just one field goal over the last 5:15 following Harkless picking up his fifth and final foul.

Reigning Big East Rookie of the Week D’Angelo Harrison suffered through the worst game of his college career scoring only five points on 1-12 shooting and committing several key turnovers on fast breaks.

“I have to do a better job of slowing down and finding the open guy,” Harrison said after the game. “Like coach says find the path that’s open, not the one you want.”

The 19 points the Johnnies scored in the first half was their lowest scoring half of the season. The game also marked the first time St. John’s was held under 50 points. The Red Storm have lost all seven games played this year against ranked opponents after beating six last year.

St. John’s now travels to South Florida (10-8, 3-2) to face the Bulls on Wednesday, January 18.

D’Angelo Harrison named Big East Rookie of the Week


| brennison@queenscourier.com

After averaging more than 20 points and seven rebounds, St. John’s freshman phenom D’Angelo Harrison was named the Big East Rookie of the Week.

The guard led the Red Storm (8-7, 3-2 Big East)  in scoring in both the team’s games last week — a loss at MSG to No. 11/10 Louisville and a win at Cincinnati, snapping the Bearcats seven-game winning streak.  Harrison played in 79 of a possible 80 minutes during last week’s action.

For the week Harrison averaged 21 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals.

The Texas native leads all Big East freshmen in scoring — 16 ppg — and is 12th overall in the conference.

Harrison is the first player to earn this honor since Cardozo graduate Daryll Hill in February 2004.

The Johnnies next play at No. 25/24 Marquette (12-4, 1-2) on Wednesday, January 11 at 7 p.m.

Maurice Harkless named to Big East’s Honor Roll


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Harkless2w

One of the borough’s top hoops stars is continuing his athletic success under the bright lights of college basketball.

Maurice Harkless, a former star forward at Forest Hills High School, was named to the Big East Conference’s Weekly Honor Roll on January 2 for his high-flying efforts in St. John’s games against Providence and Connecticut.

The freshman swingman averaged 24.0 points per game and 9.5 rebounds during a 1-1 week in conference play for the Red Storm. Harkless shot 67.9 percent from the field (19-for-24), 50 percent from long range (3-for-6) and 87.5 percent from the free throw line (7-of-8) to go along with five assists, five steals and two blocks.

Harkless also entered the record books against Providence with a 32 point performance – the most ever by a freshman making his Big East debut. In the 91-67 victory, Harkless went 14-for-17 from the field, 2-for-3 from long range and had 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double in a five-game span. He also dished out four assists, picked four steals and blocked two shots.

In St. John’s game against UConn, Harkless contributed 16 points (5-of-11 field goals, 5-of-5 free throws) and grabbed six rebounds in a 83-69 loss on December 31.

Harkless’ team-best scoring average of 15.7 points per game ranks 14th among all Big East players, his team-leading 8.3 rebounds per game is tied for fifth, his 46.2 field goal percentage is 11th and his 1.6 blocked shots rates 10th in the league.

Becoming the first recruit of the Steve Lavin regime at St. John’s University, he committed to play for the Red Storm in 2011. Harkless had previously made a verbal commitment to play for the University of Connecticut (UConn), but later re-opened his recruiting.

After announcing that he had chosen UConn over Kentucky, he chose to re-examine his options after Lavin joined St. John’s. Programs throughout the country courted him, including the likes of Oregon, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Rutgers and Maryland.