Well, third time is a charm, right? If that is the case, then the St. John’s Red Storm are in real trouble. For the third straight game, the Johnnies have played down to their underdog opponents and it despite a 5-1 record, they are showing signs of being in trouble early in the 2021-22 campaign.
In defense of NJIT, they played up and didn’t look like a 21.5-point underdog. In fact, The Highlanders looked like a conference opponent against St. John’s this past Saturday night. The Red Storm played uninspired basketball for most the regulation game and gave up a 16-point cushion late in the second half to allow NJIT back into this game and almost manufacture a big upset.
The biggest issues plaguing St. John’s in this game include turnovers (18), a lack of intensity at times on the court and shooting only 21.6% on three-point shots in the last three games. Now, the last three games have been against Fairleigh Dickinson, St. Francis (Brooklyn) and NJIT – not Xavier, Villanova or Seton Hall. If you are choking early in the non-conference season against low major opponents, what will happen when conference play arrives? Julian Champagnie needed 17 shots to make 14 points in this game and was six for 17 from the floor.
During the latter part of the second half, the Johnnies were starting to pull away and up by 16 after a 17-5 run. Esahia Nyiwe had the best game of his St. John’s career in his 15 minutes on the court and Posh Alexander returned after being absent against St. Francis to lead the charge, However, head coach Mike Anderson subbed out the top performers late in the second half and opened the door for NJIT to get back into this game. By 1:45 left in the game, the Highlanders went on a 15-2 tear and forced an overtime on St. John’s. In OT, the Red Storm finally woke up from their sleep walking and played inspired to pull this win off. In reality, the final score of 77-68 was probably more of a wake-up call to the Red Storm than anything else. St. John’s has been sleep walking through the last three games and these so-called tune-up games are showing that the Red Storm may be facing a rude awakening here real soon. Next up on the agenda for the Johnnies is no less than Kansas, not Eastern Kansas Tech or Southwestern Kansas State but the University of Kansas Jayhawks this Friday night. As coach Mike Anderson said, “We’ll be ready to play – we better be.” –Mike Anderson, November 27, 2021. Coach Anderson, you are not kidding.