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.
NEW YORK (AP) – St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin searched his memory banks but could not come up with a comparison.
He had spent the opening 20 minutes watching his veteran-laden team play as if they were complete strangers. Following a halftime speech in which he implored his team to play better, Lavin saw why his Red Storm squad is nationally ranked.
It was, Lavin said, “a tale of two halves” after D’Angelo Harrison scored 21 points and No. 20 St. John’s overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to rally past Saint Mary’s, 53-47, on Friday night in front of 4,645 fans at Carnesecca Arena.
“Tonight was as dramatic of ‘a tale of two halves’ as I can recall in my coaching career,” said Lavin. “As a result, we were fortunate to pull away with a win.”
Kentucky signee Charles Matthews and Chicago (IL) St. Rita took on city rival Chicago Simeon Friday night in a game televised on ESPN2.
With Kentucky head man John Calipari and assistants Barry “Slice” Rohrssen and Kenny Payne on hand, Matthews led St. Rita to a 51-46 upset over Simeon.
Matthews controlled the tempo, going for 17 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Simeon was led by Nebraska signee Ed Morrow, who had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Matthews was UK’s first commitment back in February and perhaps the least heralded recruit in a 2015 class which consists of top ranked players Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe, who opened his season Friday night with a win.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –– The highly anticipated Jahlil Okafor-Amida Brimah matchup never materialized as Duke handled UConn, 66-56, Thursday night at the IZOD Center.
Okafor, the presumed No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, went for 12 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists in the win. His night included a spin move on UConn’s Philip Nolan, a dunk and a staredown, as well as several nifty one-handed passes over the top out of the double-team.
Projected as the No. 10 pick in the 2016 Draft by DraftExpress.com, the 7-foot Brimah got into early foul trouble and was a complete non-factor in the game, finishing with no points and one rebound before fouling out. Brimah was coming off a 40-point, 12-rebound performance against Coppin State.
“Obviously, Okafor’s the best player in college basketball, it’s not even close,” one of the 39 NBA personnel in the building told SNY.tv. “And Brimah’s a long ways away. He’s really raw. Physically, he’s got a long ways to go. And then he has no offensive game, and he’s just a shot-blocker. He’s got a long ways to go as a player so they’re not even in the same class as players.”
His rookie season may be done after just 25 games, but at least the former Blue Devils star made a name for himself over that short span.
“The good thing for Jabari is, there’s been so many injuries with the rookies, but Jabari had 25 games or so where he established himself,” Krzyzewski said after the second-ranked Blue Devils defeated Connecticut, 66-56, at the IZOD Center. “In other words, no one wants that injury, but he has a reference point. His ownership, the league, his teammates, he knows he’s that good.”
“It’s sad because he was on his way to being Rookie of the Year of the league and the Bucks are doing so well.”