It's Time to Start Paying Attention to St. John's

Return of the Red Storm has been a long time coming

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Dec 10, 2009  |  Updated 9:32 AM EDT
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It's Time to Start Paying Attention to St. John's

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Bobby Knight was calling Wednesday night's St. John's-Georgia game for ESPN and the old coach made it clear that he didn't know the first thing about the rosters of either team. He also made it clear that he's forgotten more about how to win in college basketball than any 10 people know combined, so it was quite fun for St. John's fans to hear him break down the game. 

Knight would say that the Red Storm needed to call a timeout, say, or drive the ball to the hoop at various points in the game. Moments later St. John's would do just that and they cruised to a 66-56 win at the Garden. If there had been a few more tirades and a player in a chokehold, it would have been like Knight himself was coaching the Johnnies, although you get the feeling that Norm Roberts would be willing to try anything to get his team over the hump this season.

So far, so good. Georgia's not a particularly good team, but beating a middling SEC team is just the kind of thing that they haven't been doing in the past decade. The win was even more notable because they played without starting forward Justin Burrell and because three other starters started the game on the bench after showing up late for the team bus to the game. 

They got double-digit scoring from replacement starters Justin Brownlee and Dwight Hardy, a representation of the depth that Roberts enjoys this season, and rode a strong, physical defensive performance to their seventh win of the season. Depth and defense have keyed their strong start, and those two things should serve them quite well once the Big East season gets underway.

That'll happen on New Year's Eve, when they'll be in D.C. for a date with Georgetown. For the first time in a long time, it looks like St. John's will be more than a speed bump for the conference's powerhouses and that should make for some good basketball in January and February.

Don't take my word for it, just ask Coach Knight and hope he responds with something other than a knee to the groin.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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