Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
St. John’s Loses by 32 to Division 2 St. Thomas Aquinas
Back at Chris Mullin’s introductory press conference, I swear some of those folks thought he would instantly turn the clock back to 1985.
But that’s tough to do when you turn over virtually the entire roster, lose two potential pros before graduation and bring in an entirely new coaching staff, including a head coach who has never coached a game before.
Well, those folks – and folks around the college basketball world – got a rude awakening Wednesday night when St. Johns lost to Division 2 St. Thomas Aquinas, 90-58, in an exhibition game at Carnesecca Arena.
That’s a 32-point loss at home to a D-2 team.
“You have to give the other team a lot of credit,” said Mullin, whose team played without freshman point guard Marcus LoVett and freshman forward Kassoum Yakwe, still not cleared by the NCAA. “They played hard, they played together and aggressive. This will be a tremendous teaching tool. A lot of our guys have not played in a college basketball game, and we tried to emulate that in practice and the scrimmage, but it’s different. We have to learn from this.”
The new-look Johnnies shot 37 percent on the night and committed 28 turnovers. Without LoVett, Italian guard Federico Mussini led the Red Storm with 16 points.
Justin Reyes, a 6-foot-4 redshirt sophomore guard, went off for a game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Spartans.
“I used what Coach (Lou) Carnesecca told our team when we were down against Georgetown 41-9 at half: ‘It’s embarrassing, but it’s also something you have to claim. It’s something we did together. There’s no time for pointing fingers,'” Mullin said. “I take the responsibility for that. I thought they were more prepared than we were, but we’ll get back to the details.”
“I thought we had a shot to play with them, considering we have a lot of experienced guys coming back,” Aquinas coach Tobin Anderson said. “We played them last year for most of the first half, but to play like we did, to shoot like we did was a credit to our guys. It’s hard because in these exhibitions we’re so fired up, and perhaps St. John’s is probably not as excited about playing us.”
When you consider St. John’s was picked 10th in the 10-team Big East, you have to wonder if Mullin’s ever been picked to finish last in anything in his life.
“I guess one thought is you could use it as bulletin-board material, but like I said it really wouldn’t change my practice plan for tomorrow,” Mullin said at media day.
Well, I’m guessing his practice plan on Thursday may change a bit.
It’s not 1985, folks.
Mullin may eventually get the Johnnies back to that level, but it’s clearly going to take a while.
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.