St. John’s found themselves in a battle with Bucknell at Carnesecca Arena on Tuesday night.
This Bison came out firing. They made three of their first six 3-pointers and stretched their lead to eight late in the first half. They ended up taking a 35-32 lead into halftime after JaKarr Sampson and Jamal Branch made some nice jumpers in the final minutes to close the gap.
Settling for jumpers once again created lengthy scoring draughts for the Johnnies and many one-and-done possessions. Twelve of their first 15 shot attempts were jump shots, from either two or three point territory, which is why the Red Storm trailed for all but the first 48 seconds of the first half.
And the second half didn’t start very promising. This is the sequence for the first few possessions for St. John’s: missed jumper, turnover, turnover, missed jumper, missed jumper, offensive rebound, missed three point jumper and then another turnover. So in their first seven possessions of the second half they turned the ball over multiple times, only settled for jumpers, and had zero points almost four minutes into the period.
The quality of play for the Johnnies did get much better after that, getting easy buckets in transition, throwing down dunks and finally making some shots. But what really showed up in the second half was their defense. St. John’s will almost always be the most athletic team on the floor because of their size, length, speed and versatility. And they need to impose their will as often as possible.
Chris Obekpa, the sophomore shot blocking sensation, finished with seven blocked shots, many of which came in the final moments of a close game. Obekpa had the best shot blocking % in the country last year (15.8%), and already has 12 blocked shots in three games (right on average from last year). The versatile Orlando Sanchez also chipped in with four blocked shots of his own.
St. John’s isn’t a good jump shooting team. This was the case last year, and it seems to be the case this year. But for some reason they continue to settle for far too many of these types of shots. This team is too talented and athletic to pull up and jack low quality shots. The dribble drive and high low movement needs to become more prevalent. They should be exploiting teams with the mismatches they can create. But they aren’t.
It’s very early in the season and teams will no doubt improve as we progress through the schedule. But if St. John’s is to be a NCAA tournament team, which they very well should be, they need to become much more efficient on the offensive end.
St. John’s next game is at home this Friday night (Nov. 22) against Monmouth at 9 PM EST.