Young Red Storm struggles

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No one said playing Big East basketball was going to be easy and the St. John’s Red Storm have found that out first-hand.

The team’s ongoing growing pains and struggles, which first appeared in the non-conference schedule, are abundant for everyone to see. The Georgetown Hoyas had no problem exploiting those weaknesses at Madison Square Garden Sunday in a 69-49 basketball victory.

Assistant Coach Mike Dunlap, who has been at the helm of St. John’s in all but four games for the recovering Steve Lavin, talked about what the team needs to improve on to be successful: turnovers, rebounding and defense of key shooters.

Despite the disappointing effort, he was pleased with the passion from his young team.

“We tried to climb up that hill one more time, but it was an incredible effort by our guys,” said Dunlap.

It’s not all bad for the Storm (2-4 Big East) if you look at the glass as half full. A group of young, talented players has come together and competed toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the conference.

Freshman Moe Harkless has been a bright spot all year and the Georgetown game was no exception. The Queens native scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds in 32 minutes of work before fouling out late in the second half.

Along with Harkless, freshman D’Angelo Harrison has stepped up as an offensive weapon, but was a poor 1-12 from the field with four turnovers. In a rotation that features just seven players, Harrison couldn’t afford to take the day off.

“I have to do a better job of slowing down and finding the open guy,” said Harrison.

God’sgift Achiuwa, St. John’s only real “big man,” was stymied by a physically superior Georgetown team that had 19 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points.

The difference this year for the Storm, however, hasn’t necessarily been a lack of size but a lack of depth. Foul trouble has plagued them, which is tough for any team but particularly debilitating for a team with no bench.

Not to mention that the same players are called upon every game to play considerable minutes without the hope of getting substantial rest.

Dunlap talked about his team’s difficulties of keeping up their intensity for 40 minutes.

“Some of the guys playing big minutes aren’t as quick …. I think our resources are a little shallow to keep that intensity up in the second half,” said Dunlap.

St. John’s went into halftime trailing by six points and got as close as three points with 6:36 to go in the game, but it seemed that Georgetown had a response for every run that the Storm made.

The good news is that the team seems to be getting better every week and with 12 Big East games remaining, anything can happen.

Posted 12:00 am, January 22, 2012
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