What We Learned in St. John's Opening Game

No Steve Lavin, but a win for the Red Storm.

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011  |  Updated 6:38 AM EDT
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St. John's gets off to a winning start.

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The NBA lockout persists, but we finally have some basketball to watch in New York.

St. John's got their season underway in Queens on Tuesday night with a 74-59 victory over William & Mary. They are missing a lot -- Steve Lavin wasn't there as he battles prostate cancer, most key players from last year are gone and three recruits are ineligible -- but they came back from seven points down at halftime to pick up the win.

Hopes aren't particularly high for the Johnnies this season because of all those absent players and the difficulty of competing with such an inexperienced roster in the Big East. It's all the basketball we're going to have for a while, though, so let's get ourselves acquainted with the team that will give us our hoops fix for the foreseeable future.

1. The Johnnies like to run - The comeback in the second half was instigated by a move to a more aggressive pressure defense that led to a slew of turnovers and fastbreak points. Nurideen Lindsey, a junior college transfer, had 15 points after the break, most of which came on drives to the hoop that we were used to seeing from last year's group.

The question will be whether or not the Red Storm can keep up this pace with a seven-man rotation. Playing uptempo would seem to be their best shot at competing, but that's going to be hard with so few bodies to put such a system into practice.

2. Rebounding is going to be a problem - It's hard enough to rebound out of the matchup zone that the Johnnies like to run, but that issue will be exacerbated by the lack of size this season. Their rebounding rates were below last year's dismal totals on each end of the floor and that could get even worse when the competition gets better.

3. God's Gift Achiuwa is more than just a great name - Another JUCO transfer, Achiuwa grabbed nine boards and gave the team a low-post presence offensively that they will need this season. He also draws a lot of contact underneath, something that can help St. John's balance bigger teams they'll face down the road.

4. Sir'Dominic Porter has insanely long arms - The freshman should play a big role on the team defensively this season because it seems like his arms stretch from one end of the court to the other. With creating transition points looking like a big part of the attack, Porter could play a major role.

5. D'Angelo Harrison isn't Dwight Hardy - It's unfair to expect otherwise from a freshman, of course, but the Red Storm aren't going to be able to put the ball in the hands of their point guard and wait for good things to happen this season. Fellow freshman Moe Harkless looks like he'll be the go-to guy, such as it is, in a more balanced attack.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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