Rust is normally associated with metals and bad weather and an indication that time hasn’t been kind to something. Rust in sports means that players and teams are out of synch with each other or just have been sitting around too long with nothing to do.
In the case of the St. John’s Red Storm last night, the rust from three weeks of sitting around due to Covid-19 cancelations (or postponements, if the Big East Conference can find a way to reschedule all these missed games) is finally getting a good dusting off. The conference start was a good sign for the Johnnies as they knocked off De Paul 89-84. More importantly, Julian Champagnie had a college career night and looks like his positive Covid testing back on December 12th hasn’t hurt his game. Nor has it hurt St. John’s at a time when they can certainly use some players to step up and lead this program during the conference play stretch.
The rest of the Red Storm did suffer from physical and mental fatigue or fog or whatever you want to call it. Athletes who sit around for prolonged periods of time are always susceptible to muscle and mind fatigue and since the enforced layoff since the ugly loss to Pitt, the Red Storm need a strong re-start to get the season going again and they found it last night. Despite the obvious fatigue shown on the court during the De Paul game at Carnesecca Arena and shooting a weak six of 66 at the rim in the first half, St. John’s was able to keep up with De Paul. Another factor of the fatigue issue was the fact that head coach Mike Anderson wasn’t able to keep up with pressing last night and had to fully move away from full-court attacks. The Red Storm did win the turnover battle as De Paul turned the ball over ten times to St. John’s only six and the Johnnies did convert their opponent’s turnovers into ten points. Montez Mathis was able to put in a defensive show with four rebounds and five points along with a steal and a shot block.
Offensively, Posh Alexander was able to find his outside shooting again and finished the game with 16 points (six for 15 FG) and hit three for six outside the arc. Julian Champagnie led the offensive charge last night and not a moment too soon as he turned in another career game with 34 points including 4/7 three-point shots and 16 rebounds. Along with a revitalized Champagnie, teammates Dylan Addae-Wusu and Posh Alexander added 17 and 16 points, respectively. The victory last night in conference play gives St. John’s a chance to restart their season just in time for road games against Providence and UConn coming up on the schedule.