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 Looks to Avoid 0-2 League Start vs. Georgetown
St. John’s is already 0-1 in the Big East, and the Johnnies know all too well that an 0-2 start is entirely possible with Saturday’s date at Georgetown looming.
“We definitely don’t want to drop two straight, especially in the league,” junior wing Sir’Dominic Pointer said.
“It’s a tough league, and we definitely don’t want to lose to Georgetown. We’re going to go in and play hard and hopefully we get the win. We are going to go in and play our game. They’re going to play their game and hopefully we come out with a W.”
This will be the 100th meeting all-time between the Big East rivals, with St. John’s leading 53-46 in the series. Georgetown is 12-4 since the 2004-5 season.
“All of the games in your conference play end up being big for a variety of reasons,” Johnnies coach Steve Lavin said. “I would say Georgetown is a big game because of the history between the two schools and the feisty nature of the matchups.”
The Johnnies are 9-4 coming off a 70-60 loss to new Big East member Xavier, and must face No. 11 Villanova (11-1) a week from Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
If they lose both of those games, the Johnnies would have six losses by early January. Lose one and they would have five.
Not exactly the makings of an impressive NCAA Tournament resume.
“As a team, we look at our resume, but we don’t compare it to other teams at this point,” sophomore Max Hooper said.
“Internally in our basketball family there are certain standards and things that we establish as goals and expectations for ourselves so the things that are happening outside of our team aren’t important to us. Our focus is on our performance in the next game and our performance continued on. The other teams in our league, that will take care of itself.”
Georgetown, winners of eight of its last nine games, improved to 9-3 overall and 1-0 in league play with a 61-54 win over DePaul on New Year’s Eve.
Senior guard Markel Starks scored a game-high 21 points to lead Georgetown, while , sophomore guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Starks, who has scored in double figures 10 times this season, leads the team in scoring with 16.3 points per game and leads the team with 4.2 assists per game, which ranks second in the Big East.
Smith-Rivera is second on the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game, is shooting 45.7 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from three-point land.
Georgetown’s backcourt of Smith-Rivera and Starks are averaging 32.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 2.7 steals.
Junior center Joshua Smith is third on the team in scoring with 12.1 points per game, fourth on the team with 3.2 rebounds and leads the Big East in field goal percentage, connecting on 69.2 percent of his field goals.
“They have variations of their offense now because Josh Smith is such a dominant force,” Lavin said. “When he’s in the game they play through him more and when he comes out, they run more of a Princeton offense.”
Lavin added: “We need to improve in all aspects of play and the wins take care of themselves.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.