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 — Jahvon Quinerly helped give Jay Wright an early Christmas present on Saturday.
After riding the bench for much of his freshman season, Quinerly finally got an opportunity to play significant minutes with Collin Gillespie out with a concussion. Ironically, Quinerly’s arm hit Gillespie’s head during practice on Thursday, causing the concussion.
And under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, the freshman out of Hudson (N.J.) Catholic rewarded his coach. Quinerly played 25 minutes and went for career-highs in points (10), assists (4) and steals (1), helping to guide the Wildcats to an 81-58 beatdown of former Big East rival UConn. He shot 2-of-8 from the field and 1-of-5 from deep.
“It definitely felt good being back in New York, my family coming and seeing me play,” Quinerly said. “I just focused on my game. It was a big bounceback win for us. We lost at Kansas, so going into the Christmas break it’s a big win for us.”
Quinerly’s previous career-high in minutes was 18, and his previous career-high in points was 9. He went through four DNPs and five games where he played fewer than 10 minutes.
Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. native Eric Paschall led Villanova (9-4) with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, while Phil Booth tallied 18 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Joe Cremo added 11 points. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the defending national champs.
Kristaps Porzingis is on track for a mid-February reassessment of his ACL recovery, but the Knicks don’t know if he’ll play at all this season.
“No, we don’t know yet,” Knicks President Steve Mills told Alan Hahn of the MSG Network Friday night. “Kristaps has made good progress from a medical perspective. The MRI was a good MRI. Physically, he was examined by the doctors….And he’s making good progress so we feel good that he’s making steps.”
The 7-foot-3 Porzingis tore his left ACL on Feb. 6, so this Feburary will mark one year since the injury. Mills said he saw Porzingis on Thursday doing three-quarter court sprints, along with dunks and 3-point shots.
“He’s advanced to doing some work on the court with our coaching staff and we’ll do another series of tests sometime in mid-February,” Mills said.