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 Looking for First Win at Syracuse in 15 Years
The last time St. John’s beat Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, Bill Clinton was in the White House, Britney Spears topped the charts and Michael Jordan had just announced his second retirement.
That was Jan. 27, 1999 and D’Angelo Harrison was 5 years old.
“This will be a big win for us if we get it,” Harrison, St. John’s senior shooting guard, said Friday. “I’m looking forward to it.”
St. John’s (5-1) and Syracuse (5-2) — two former Big East rivals — will tangle Saturday afternoon (5:15 p.m., ESPN2).
Syracuse has won 55 consecutive out-of-conference games at the Carrier Dome, the second longest active streak in NCAA Division I.
“I have played there before and it is a tough place to play,” Harrison said. “They are in a stadium, it’s not like a regular basketball facility so you have to get used to it. Warm-ups will be key for us.”
Harrison has said it will be a “complete failure” if his team doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year and a win at Syracuse would surely help build their resume, even if the Orange are currently unranked.
The Johnnies beat Minnesota and then lost to No. 10 Gonzaga last week in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden.
Their next chance for a signature win comes when they take on Jahlil Okafor and No. 4 Duke on Jan. 25 at the Garden.
“Naturally, certain games on your schedule have more significance and are more meaningful because of history between programs,” Johnnies coach Steve Lavin said. “This group is looking forward to the challenge of playing against Syracuse in The Dome.”
If there is a year for St. John’s to get the win — their last victory over the Orange came in 2007 at the Garden — it is this year.
Syracuse has a freshman point guard in Kaleb Joseph and a relatively young team thanks to the departures of Tyler Ennis, Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair. The Orange are coming off a 68-65 loss at Michigan Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
St. John’s, meantime, has a solid group of seniors who are battle-tested.
“I like our personnel,” Lavin said. “I think we match up well with Syracuse, not because we have equal size, but because we present challenges that they are going to have to prepare for. Just like we have to prepare for their strengths. It will be a high-level basketball game on the road in a tough environment.”
ST. JOHN’S RECRUITING NOTES
St. John’s is looking to add three or four guards in the Class of 2015 and has one commitment from Philaelphia guard Samir Doughty. Assistant coach Tony Chiles watched Chicago point guard Marcus LoVett earlier this week. “It does sort of matter which coaches show up to watch,” LoVett told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It definitely shows that they are interested in me.”…Meantime, St. John’s is among the schools also looking at 6-7 small forward Nicola Akele, an Italian native playing for IMG Academy. “He is Moe Harkless or Ben McLemore,” IMG’s Dan Barto told SNY.tv. “Great feel for the game and instincts. Very crafty passer.” Miami, USF, Boston College, Oregon and Florida State are also in the mix, Barto said.
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.